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Miserable day

by FarEasterner Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 12:30:14 PM EST

Quick personal photodiary on how I spent this day.

Chorten in the middle of McLeod Ganj today.

After spending January with my sister and niece in Goa I am back in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh in North India. It's lively place where Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetans reside. There are also many expats from all over the world but don't think it's not Indian town - very much Indian, for both locals Himachalis and Indians from other parts of the country (first of all Kashmiri traders) and even many Nepalis have come here for business and work. They were attracted by newly found prosperity and development.

After three days of cold, miserable and unstoppable rain today's morning promised to be different - even through steamy window I recognized the change from yesterday - it was snowing through the night. There was no electricity but hardly a surprise - in my home (in Far Eastern Russian) power blackout happens very rarely, once in many years, here it's routine, happens several times every day.

Because of the rain I did not go out lately so today I decided to go and bring newspapers and recharge my mobile. I can do these things in McLeod Ganj, 2 km away. (Dalai Lama's residence, temple and most Tibetans live in McLeod Ganj).

At this time of the year there are no so many tourists so I could not see any autorickshaws on the chowk but I met monkey on the way to McLeod.

Monkey was going down to the vegetable market apparently to steal and eat some fruits.

Near fruit stall

Vegetable market

The deserted road runs along the wooden slope, limited from one side by deep gully.

It looks beautiful now, for I cannot see on the roadside piles of rubbish left by hordes of Indian tourists.

The place to stock with newspapers is in Nowrojee house right in the centre of McLeod.

It's a very old establishment, till last year it was run by an old gentleman Mr Nowrojee, Parsi by religion. When his family moved to India I don't know but in Dharamsala his father settled probably right after disastrous earthquake in 1905. Before his death last autumn Mr Nowrojee invited me inside to show old family albums filled with yellowed photographs of his family, the father in expensive suits on horseback or with beautiful wife on holiday in Kashmir, or with children (Mr Nowrojee and his younger brother).

Mr Nowrojee's relatives left for other countries and places long ago (I think they live in Delhi, Mumbai and in the West) and in last years his newspaper business was helped by Mr Joginder Singh (he was orphan and grown up in Nowrojee's family) and Bunty, local boy from Punjab. After Nowrjoee's death they continue to work as usual.

Mr Joginder greets policeman.

I talked with Mr Joginder about article on Dharamsala in recent edition of The Week (one of the main Indian magazines). The journalist met 98-year old local Buta Ram Runchan, who recalled that when Dalai Lama and Tibetans came here there were only five houses - his, Nowrojee's and three others which were deserted by Muslims in 1947. Also in article I found that "The Nowrojee's store is in dilapidated state and under litigation, but some of its old products are still in glass cases - among them, a newspaper with the news of the conquest of Mt Everest and coronation of queen Elizabeth". I asked Mr Joginder about litigation, he did not know what to tell as he did not talk to reporter.

All share the narrow roads.

After stocking with reading I usually proceed down the road towards the Dalai Lama's temple. There are many street cafes on this road, providing travelers with Wi-Fi and cups of hot cappuccino.

In my favourite Mandala Wi-Fi Coffee House I found only staff and worker from neighbouring Ali Baba's Treasures shop. The worker was from Kashmir and due to cold weather was wrapped in ferein (traditional male Kashmiri's woolen dress). We talked a bit about Kashmir, yesterday's tragedy (snow avalanche buried 17 Indian armymen in Kashmir, it is the main news in local newspapers) and about snow.

Kashmiri trader.

Last time it was snowing in McLeod Ganj three years ago and the snow had melted a couple of hours later. This time it seems to last longer - the intermittent rain turns snow then hail and back. Both locals and visitors have been enjoying such a natural wonder with gusto, there were improvised snow battles on streets, and children were embarrassing pedestrians with sudden snow blows. I was no exception, was hit heavily twice.

Second part of the day turned miserable for me, on return I found that I lost my phone. It was a gift of my sister, Ericsson with good graphical games, radio, music, photo and videocamera. Such a pity. I had to return to McLeod but did not find the phone, attempts to locate it failed as the thief quickly threw out sim-card.

I had another phone, old one with problem of recharging it, and on my third trip to McLeod I purchased new sim-card. However when I tried to recharge this mobile its cord fell apart and I had to go to McLeod for the fourth time, to buy new mobile, cheap and best Nokia.

Between the trips I had a word with manager of my guesthouse, Mr Suri. I asked him how does he think the thief is feeling. Is he feeling shame? Absolutely not, he replied, for the thief it was a very good day. But not for the victim.

The only way to cope with loss I think is to think of it as a sacrifice or maybe token of future return. When mine another sister visited India last summer we went to another paradise-like spot, Kochi in Kerala. Once she wanted to buy a can of juice and in the process she lost expensive Sony camera. The only consolation - she thinks she will return to India one day. As I am preparing to leave India for good next month I tend to think the same.  

I lead seminomadic life so recently I changed my working gear, from heavy laptop with 1 kg adapter to light Acer netbook, external DVD-drive and harddisk plus UBS scanner. And feel happy.

That is such horribly chilling snow. Just seeing it makes my feet cold, knowing how it sticks and then immediately melts into ice-cold water that eventually makes it way threw all possible footwear.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 06:12:47 PM EST
Excellent pictures! It does look pretty cold, that's for sure.

Why is the lady carrying an umbrella?

And how much equipment do you carry with you?


by asdf on Tue Feb 9th, 2010 at 08:52:16 PM EST
thanks for comment. The lady is carrying umbrella because it is a unpleasant mix of rain and snow.
In the last picture you can see all my equipment except Sony camera. I feel comfortable with all but scanner - it is supposed to be at least A4 size but is vital for me, as I scan all books which I buy and sometimes articles from magazines and newspapers.
by FarEasterner on Wed Feb 10th, 2010 at 01:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by FarEasterner on Wed Feb 10th, 2010 at 08:28:12 AM EST
I love these pics.  I have this naive picture of Dharamsala being 'ashram like' and cosy.  Nice to see the reality.  
by ElaineinNM on Thu Feb 11th, 2010 at 10:32:02 AM EST
Great diary. Glad your loss was no greater. Wonderful photos. Dharamsala looks like a great place to visit, especially in the Summer, especially when the Dalai Lama is not in residence.

I am aware that there are kinetic chargers that you wind and small solar panels that you can use to charge batteries. Given the haunts which you frequent such a device might be handy. I always enjoy your travel diaries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 11th, 2010 at 08:48:44 PM EST

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