The room was familiar. Last year, on my runaway trip to Manali, this guest house was my escape & the same Room No 205 was my haven. When I woke up next morning, it felt as if I never moved out of that room. That I never went back to Delhi. That I have always been there. That I always belonged to that bed & that cozy smell of wet woods. Never felt so secured & safe as I did rolling under those white sheets & velvet blankets.
But then to taste the adventure, one must leave all sources of comfort & simply plunge into the stream of impossibilities which then turn true. I was as fresh as I was when we started from Delhi. No pain, no tiredness, I had started tasting adventure. My friend wanted me to rest that day as it was my first long route experience. But I was getting impatient. I had seen Manali several times but this time I wanted to go beyond & see more.
We carried an extra can of petrol & started for Rohtang at noon. It was bright, warm & sunny. As we moved up, the clouds became very heavy. Rohtang has never been fair to me. Previous two experiences had been deadly but this time I had to win. There were fresh landslides at different places. Mud till the knee & sometimes even above it. Dangerous narrow roads. Traffic on both the sides was still, yet all bikers were somehow moving. I had to walk several meters with the luggage as the bike had to appear lighter to cross the swamp. Those few meters made me so tired, exhausted & breathless as if I had been walking since Delhi. The clouds had settled on the ground. Zero visibility & killing chill & there I encountered snow for the first time. I have been to many hill stations but could never see snow. On one side of the road, there was a huge chunk of snow, black & white. I touched it, kicked it. It was exactly same as the snow in the frost freezer. Or like the ones “Chuskis” are made of. We had crossed Rohtang & those dense clouds too. Two of my dreams were already fulfilled.
The terrain had entirely changed. There were only rocky mountains around & almost no habitat. We had no idea about our next stoppage. The landslide at Rohtang road had taken up a lot of time. It was going to get dark soon. We stopped at Khokhsar to sip a cup of tea & get an idea about the road ahead. The ladhakhi guy at the tea stall advised us to go to Tandi. It had camping sites & an Army Transit Camp as well. It was almost dark when we began to see a well constructed colony from a distance. White lights & shelters made of plastic & tin. It was a transit camp. With few approaches we got a permission to spend the night at the transit camp. So we night stayed with almost 600 soldiers from three regiments in a transit camp. And what a camp it was…………………….