20.10.2010 - 22.10.2010 30 °C
"Charras? Mushroom? Opium? Sony camcorder? You want hire motorbike? Indian girls?"
A motley group of thin, shivering young men huddle outside around the flames of something insubstantial in a tin wok. Gleaming Enfield motorbikes in front. A humble concrete workshop behind.
Another 'man from del monte' moment as me, with my technical cycling jacket and black umbrella, join the group for momentary respite from the encouragable rain.
He wants my iPhone. I think he'd happily sell his soul for it. But never steal - less and less could that happen in India.
Several attempts to disengage, I finally manage to get away to continue my walk, refreshingly alone, to Old Manali.
An auto-rickshaw pulls in front; pushing the wet curtain aside, he waves. Whatever, I get in. At least I won't pay tourist fare.
Now in central Manali, I sit watching the high street. I've taken myself up the Khyber which, beyond the Carry On connotations, in Manali is a bar. With beer. Beer!
The rain presses down. Not found at the backpacker hotel. Not found in the hippie cafes of Vaashisht. Not found in the temples with their hot, so hot, mountain springs. Finally, amongst these foothills of the Himalaya: peace. It's starting to snow.