Self ditched her group in Bir. All she could tell Mrinalini was: I just realized, I want to be alone!
Mrinalini said, “You only found out TODAY?”
Self got a driver to take her to Dharamsala. She kept making the driver stop at cell phone stores they passed along the way, so she could buy a phone. But no one would take dollars. So, she arrived in Dharamsala, all by her lonesome, with nothing but crap Verizon phone (on which she has already placed two expensive phone calls to the husband, who is completely unconcerned, who figures she will just show up back in Redwood City one of these days)
Last night was cold. As in, FREEZING HER BUTT OFF cold! The hotel people were nice, but could do nothing about self’s extreme sensitivity. So self slept in three pairs of pants, five sweaters, and two pairs of socks. Never mind showering.
This morning, she awoke at 4 a.m. The sun did not come over the lip of the mountains until almost three hours later. But when self looked out the window, oh what a sight! Her hotel, Snow Crest Inn, is just down the road from a school. And, after the school, the road ends. And after that, mountains. Snowy peaks. Great, mighty mountains!
Unfortunately, the hotel has no internet. Self is at an internet cafe next to a sacred lake. A family of French tourists passed her as she was meandering (She asked for a taxi, but there were apparently none forthcoming, perhaps all taken by richer — Japanese or American — tourists). She doesn’t have a way to transfer the pictures from her camera. Those will have to wait until she gets back to a more wired place.
Here there are monks (Surprisingly tall monks, even an American woman who was dressed in monk’s clothes and had a shaved head). Also, dogs. Also, Japanese and Korean tourists. Also, Chinese restaurants. And mountains of trash. And snow drifts. And self’s mind is going in all directions at once. This morning, she began writing a story and got to five pages (She’ll call it “Searching” for now — BWAH HA HA!).
She also began reading a story by Benjamin Solomon in ONE STORY, Issue Number 154: “Who Cycles Into Our Valley.” A grown son is visiting his father, who he is apparently not close to. Here’s an excerpt from p. 3:
“The son, who is visiting his father for a week before flying to the States, is an English teacher in India. He chose India because it was the furthest place from home that he could imagine, although having been there now for two years and settled into a life with a woman, he understands that actually he is closer to home in India than he ever was in the States, and that in fact home becomes inevitable when you arrive in a place lonely and decide to stay there. He tries now to construct his girlfriend’s face in his memory but it refuses to assemble, and he can only think that she was unhealthily skinny when he left, and that she was angry at his leaving, and her anger made her look wasted and ill …
Then, father and son think of a trip they took “long ago”:
“… of the hostel they stayed at in Madrid where the son got nosebleeds on the pillowcases both nights, and how worried and attentive the proprietress was, bringing cold washcloths and suggesting herbal remedies that the father didn’t trust. The hotel doubled as a hospice for the very old, and at dinner the father and son would listen to the sound of an ancient woman at the table next to them breathing as if repeatedly answering in the affirmative — mm-hmm! — “
And now self must stop, for her tour guide/companion is sitting right behind her, and she fears he has something better to do than hang around with her in an internet cafe all afternoon!
Another thing self has learned from this trip? That it is absolutely essential for a woman in her position — traveling alone, not knowing the language — to have a really, really top-notch driver.
Self, why do you always end up doing the craziest, most foolhardy things?
Because she is a writer. A writer.
Stay tuned for more adventures, dear blog readers.