Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MacLeodganj Trip: Day 4: MacL

Woke up at, in spite of all expectations, 7 AM. Put clothes on assorted rocks to dry and sat in the sun. Ahhhh warrrm sun mmmm.

Finally start moving an hour later, head up to the prayersite. There are dead trees completely covered with prayer flags; the effect is disturbingly like an overdressed Blair Witch Project, in spite of the sun and the brightness. Maybe it was the silence, and the emptiness. The backpackers had left and the tourists hadn't yet arrived, so it was just us, and the three chai shops. I want to spend more time here. I want to live here for a while. If this is what Triund is like, what must Tibet be? I know why they call it 'Roof of the World'; now I'm beginning to feel why, as well.

Long, hot tired walk back. Very quiet, nobody was really in much of a mood to talk. Walked down through Dharamkot, and realized the place is full of backpackers who've permanently settled. Lotus Cafe. Hans' Cafe. Claus'. Posters advertising all the stuff people come for - Meditation, Yoga, Reiki, Enfield rentals... and the stuff that they discover - Tibetan cooking classes, learning to speak Hindi / Tibetan... and the stuff they didn't expect which is therefore in hot demand, like European hairdressers.

Headed straight for the 3rd German Bakery where I ate the best lasagna carbonara of my life. Hunger might make beans taste sweeter but I swear this was the best tasting dish I've ever eaten, period. Everything else has been Italian for the Indians. This was Italian for the Italians.

Again, part of the unique nature of this place asserted itself as usual; while we ate, 2 sadhus came and changed their earnings into notes. They also blessed the owner, the waiters, the restaurant, the customers, and random passer-by's. This involved a lot of muttering, psychotic glares, waving of hands and peackock feathers, and at least four languages.
Zonk out in the hotel for an hour, then leisurely walk around Bhagsu. Leisurely because anything above an octegenarian walk makes parts of my body scream like Neve Campbell doing her debut. There were Gore-Tex jackets at 2.5K. INR. Not bad, huh? I just hope they were genuine. Would be worth going back just for that.
Om Hotel. Hot ginger lemon honey tea and chocolate pancakes. And the Lonely Planet-recommended cookies. 3 monks sitting with deadly serious expressions at a table, with a Coke, a Pepsi, and a Fanta in front of them, lost in silent grim contemplation. It's now 9:30 and most of the eateries are closed; Lung-Ta, a Japanese restaurant is supposed to be open till 11 but apparently isn't. But we do find another new place called Dokebi further downhill; this is a private house that's been converted to a restaurant, so there's books on the walls (actually, a lot of restaurants here have bookshelves), boardgames on the sideboard, a giant fireplace, rock collections, a largescreen TV (thankfully switched off) and a beautiful DVD and CD collection. It's a Korean restaurant; it's also the first place in Bhagsu-MacLeodganj that has a queue to get in, and boy it's worth it. The ambience was amazing and the food was even better. My first taste of Korean food and it rocks. Never imagined seaweed could taste this great. This was also, incidentally, the first complete meal I ate with chopsticks, including the rice. A complete Discovery Travel & Living experience.

Incidentally, another Movie Moment - M caught a fly with her chopsticks. Haven't seen that happen anywhere outside Karate Kid II.

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