Being an Indian, we follow the old rituals and superstitions. One of them is "girls are not allowed to travel alone and roam around by there own will".
No matter how much we talk about feminism, 90% of our society is still orthodox and conventional. There is always a series of "What If ", what if something happens, what if u got bad company, what if your driver is not good, what if the hotel u booked turns up bad choice, what if you cant manage it all alone... and many others!!
Well talking about it, I have two big orthodox super caring families. Nitin, on the contrary, is super chilled and heterodox. He believes in the concept of Independent Women and free soul. So, we have this understanding that every year both of us will take one individual trip along with our buddies and small 2-3 holidays together as a couple. Last year janab went to a road trip with 2 of his buddies and had a great 5 days holiday. But unfortunately, I couldn't plan one. And this year as well he went on a solo trip to Leh for Vipassana for 12 days. (I know it was damn hard to be here alone) But in return I wanted to go to Manali with my girlfriends, but as you know the orthodox families can never digest the holidays of their bahu/beti's without their husbands/bodyguards!!! But this time Tintin jain made sure that no one could stop me 💕
We planned a 5 day trip including 48 hours journey back and forth. Neha, my childhood bestie cum sister, and Abha on the other hand, my latest friend whom I met just before my marriage, actually she was Neha's school friend but we hardly had any communication earlier.On one hand, we had Tintin Jain supporting us and on the other Kishan Birla (Neha's husband).
p.s indeed we are lucky that we got these two life partners who support all our madness!
So, the plan was to go Chandigarh via train and then to take the bus for Manali and we started our journey on the 29th night via Garib Rath. Both of our darling husbands came to see off or should I say to make sure that they are actually free now for their bachelorhood of 5 days 😛 Neha's parents were too super excited and Abha's parents were total surprise as it was her first trip individually, she hardly even do night out's at our place. And on the other side my family had mixed reaction, 2 of my brothers were excited but my eldest brother was so concerned about me, he almost made me think with all those "what if's" that indeed I should not go as its not safe for girls to go on a trip alone with any bodyguard! And same was my dad's reaction (my super caring duo). He wanted me to stay and handle things at home, I almost canceled my plan but Tintin Jain was all set to enjoy his 5 days of freedom 😉 and thus we started!
We met an overexcited Punjabi kid named "google" on the train. It was amazing to listen to him and super difficult to put him to sleep when we all got tired of his nonstop stories! We reached Chandigarh and boarded our Volvo to Manali about which we all were scared as both Abha and me suffer from motion sickness i.e we can sit in closed moving objects. anyways we started by taking a few medicines. The journey to Manali is very beautiful as we travel through the hills and so peaceful and breathtaking, especially in the rainy season. And with luck in our favors, the monsoon came 4 days early! Unfortunately, the bus got delayed and we went to our rooms directly to rest and to call it the day. We planned to go to Rohtang early morning the next day so we ate and slept.
Next day started at 3 am, we got ready and started for Rohtang - Snow Point, with hopes to see snow all around but little did we know that there was no snow at all! Well, it was super chilly and foggy so the visibility was near to zero and the way to Rohtang was again into the hills. The road was just broad enough to stand two small cars at a time and our dabang driver Mr. Ishu was driving nonstop into that fog. I got super scared but after a few turns, we got to know that the driver bhaiya is super trained and he generally comes 4-5 times a week on this route so it's sure that we won't die today!with the same thought we drove and found an Indian oil truck hanging into the steep valley. Apparently, due to fog the driver turned the wrong way and the right front tire was hanging in the valley and he jumped in the Khai and saved his life. And due to him, the traffic was stuck. Our being the small alto we managed to move further and finally reached to the snow point in 2-3 hours. Driver bhaiya told us that there is hardly any snow left due to rains, but still, we can enjoy the view and the feel of freedom on that top. We suited up in our rented winter clothes and started to trek to the snow point.
Whenever u travel to any place people around you give u so much of fokat ka gyaan who have been there or even not, their list of to do and not to do's is always ready! Some of those gyani people told us about the point above the snow point for which we have to trek a bit more further. We decided that we will go there but when we started to have fun in the dirty snow we got super tired and due to lack of oxygen we were not able to breathe as well! We did a tire ride, slipped about 4-5 times in the snow and took around 100 - 150 photos! Mission Accomplished!! There was nothing new for us and we hardly had any strength left to explore that top point. We headed back to our cars and I got sick!! After 10 mins of vomiting, I got into my senses and we headed back to Solang - the adventure point.
Neha Rathi is the most adventurous daring person I know! (Tintin jain as well, jija saali Ek saman and Birla Ji and me both fattus). We saw a zip line point and Neha stopped the car, and I began to shout, "I m not doing this." The thing was they will tie you to a liver pulley on the rope above the big steep valley and push you towards the other end. Neha got dressed and went with the ZNMD dialogue she always says to me "Let it all go, Dude"! And before Abha could move forward, I jumped and said if I have to do it I will do it before you! The manager tied me up and I kept asking him what if it stops in the middle, what if it de-buckles and I fell, and a few more what if's. The manager took me and said "madam ji desh ki Abadi baht hi zyada ho gai h Mujhe Kuch Kum karke desh bakhti karne do" and pushed me into the valley! I was so scared and angry that he did not give me enough time to be ready, as if I could ever be ready for this. My concept of not doing adventurous sports is that how can u suicide knowing that these are machines and anything can happen plus have seen Final Destination many times. It was around a 2 min journey to reach to the other side. I was just trying to hold myself together and when I looked downwards I actually thought what if all my what if's become reality and then I switched back to the other side where Neha was standing shooting me and saying to leave the hands open in the air for a good photo. I thought no way! But decided to give it a try and put my right hand in the open sky just in a split second it came back holding the belt tightly. Finally, I reached to end and somehow people managed to stop me and unbuckled me. What a relief it was but after a split second I thought I was being stupid and was scared without any reason, it was so good I could have opened my arms and enjoyed the ride 😛 Anyways what could have happened, many people try this daily at least my photo would have been better but as quoted "ab patchaye hot kya jab chidiya jug gayi khet"!
We finished it and moved towards paragliding which was Neha's dream! There were two options - jump from a small height and jump from the high valley. We could see some parachutes flying above us, indeed it was super cool to see them up in the air and to feel the freedom of being a bird. but then all the what if's came back! I was convincing Neha that let's try from a smaller height first and then if its worth we will go up! But Neha stood firm that Jayenge to bade wale jump se hi, I want to experience the best! We came to the counter and they made us fill a Waver's form saying its all our responsibility. as usual, I started my question gun of "what if's" on to them! my simple logic was if ur trainer is flying with me and he has all the controls then why should I be responsible, he should be! :P Well it wasn't the matter of discussion anymore when Neha gave me her horror stare, I simply said let's go! We sat in the ropeway with two other men holding parachutes. We three were discussing the heights, fear and my what if series. What if these trainers are not trained enough? are they even certified? What if it starts to rain? What if the parachute doesn't blow up? what if we cant land properly? And so on, then the guy in front of us asked where are u three from? Is this your first ride? I answered with another question is this safe? do u know the trainers, are they good enough? And there comes to his reply that doesn't worry they are govt certified well trained and when the ride will start u won't even come down. U are gonna love it up there.
Then he classified us three Neha as the most daring person, Abha as a normal person who is not that scared and me as fattu. I replied super fattu! Neha then asked that are u our trainers which will accompany us on the flight? He in return said Yes and I was like sahi sahi batao to hum ache se makhan mare aapko dekho bhaiya baht chote h gira mat dena! "I have 20 years experience madam", the aged uncle said "and he here is the youngest trainer we have", pointing towards the other person. I immediately said, "then I m going with you only!!" Finally, we reached and the youngest trainer was allotted to me, he shouted fattu tu idhar aa mere saath! This is the way they talk in Manali, it feels like u already know that person from long. He asked my name and added fattu to it, Divya Fattu! I looked back to see Neha and Abha, who was taken to top point and the moment I turned back my trainer put the helmet onto me forcefully and started instructing me that when I say you have to start running with me. And he was all set to jump. And I stopped him saying dude whats your name and explain in detail what all I have to do? "He said I am Mr. X (forgot his name as I m very bad at recalling them). And all you have to do is sit here like you are sitting on a chair". "That's it. I can do this, I said to myself!"
And before I could breathe he started running, I already thought that I am not going to join him, he will do everything on his own. All thanks to Bhaiya and other friends who told many accident stories while taking off in paragliding. I said shree ganeshaya namay and there we were out in the sky. Trees, sky all around and me flying like a free bird. In the starting, I shouted a bit and my x told me to stop shouting and start enjoying. So, when we were stable flying I got relaxed and started to enjoy the view, road on a side, whole big ground like a small ball, and I could the whole rohtang from above. It was just like watching a scene shot from a drone, just that it was real, I was watching from my naked eyes. As I began to enjoy and settle Mr x started to show his tricks, he suddenly turned our parachute into 180 angles and started swinging around, it took my breath away and again I started shouting Mumma, Mumma. It's strange why we always shout for moms, he asked. "tumhare papa ki yaad nai aa rahi tumko. Sirf Mummy?" I replied "cause I love her more and she calls me twice a day to check whether I am good or not, and I just spoke to her before. But it doesn't mean I don't love my dad. he' is the best, he takes care of me as a princess." He started laughing. We chatted some more and he told me to straighten my legs when we land and as a precautionary measure, I did that just after he told me 😛 which ruined most of the photographs and videos we got later :P. Finally, we landed and almost killed a person. But it was awesome. I thanked Mr. X and told him that he is the best, he engaged me to talk and inspired to enjoy it.
This was the second thing which I never imagined I could do by myself! Wondering about the first thing? Well, we are three girls from orthodox families alone on a trip to Manali, who can imagine this! Neha has told her in-laws that she is on a business trip, Abha has finally for the first time in her life has got permission to go alone and me, well I had my wings given by my husband. Indeed I had too much pressure from Kishan and Abha's family that is the most sensible one I have to take care of both of them! Well, I forgot this when later in the evening we started the bottoms up the competition! I was the four times winner in a row, in just 5 secs I could gulp the whole glass of vodka into me in one breathe! Well, it doesn't matter how you put it in eventually it has to go inside! We had to finish two bottles yaar! That night we danced and danced and I puked as well twice! "but I am all in my senses" that what I kept repeating :P Eventually I fall asleep and then Neha and Abha pampered and took care of me 😛
Next morning I woke up at 5 and Abha was awake all night, spending her quality time in loo :P She had Constipation due to change of weather and food habits! I went outside to get some air and it was raining and was so beautiful. That was the first time we saw the view from our hotel as we were wandering in dark until now. I woke both of them and we went for a stroll near by. It was seriously beautiful walking in the nature with mountains and trees on one side and valley, clouds and fog on the other. With our umbrella's in our hand we enjoyed the morning! We sat on a stone, the area was covered for rains on the side of the road. i guess some body built that to sell fruits, we saw many people on the side roads with that. We came back and decided to roam around manali that day. Went to watch Sanju, another classic from Raj kumar hirani, Indeed a great film. Later as it was raining a lot we had lunch and came back to the hotel. We just sat there whole evening talking and lying on the side of the window with the breath taking view. This was the most peaceful time we had in ages and for which we came all that long! We had dinner and slept.
The next morning we were to leave for kullu manikaran. We checked out and began our road trip. Kullu was three hours away and it was drizzling all our way. It was indeed one of my best drives and as u know we had the best driver who was super skilled and was superman. He just drove smoothly in the hills. This time I sat in the front and neha tried to sleep in the back which she couldn't :P I put on my seat belt and gave stare to the driver on a steep turn he made where i almost thought we would hit the coming truck but we were so alive and he was smiling back at me! We checked in a hotel at kullu and got dressed for manikaran. Again the beautiful drive was disturbed by another accident which turned into a traffic jam later. a bus hit an innova and this one was bad. But our driver was an expert and he along with some sardar's cleared the traffic jam and we started again! The journey was great and we finally reached to Manikaran. Technically its a gurudwara and the speciallity here is the natural hot water kund's. There was a whole story of how it formed and there were all kinds of god deites there. Ram Mandir, Shiv Mandir, Gurudwara, Kali Mata, Hanuman Ji and many others. At that top, a whole market is there, while driving we couldn't imagine it would be so proper and functional. There was langer going on. And the Shiv mandir was the most beautiful. Cold breezes from the river flowing near by and hot steams from the kund. The temp was so balanced that u wont feel too hot nor too cold and this was the moment of the trip for me. The Kudrat ka karishma in neha's words :P She kept saying this on and on till we were in manikaran for 2 hrs! We headed back after having the delicious samosa. In between, we bought some manali fruits from Bhantar, famous for its fruit mandi.
And finally said goodbye to our driver bhaiya and rested in our hotel for some time. In the night went to the domino's outlet on the ground floor of the hotel. Actually, I could never understand the orientation of the hotel it was on a steep. So, the reception was on the third floor from where we entered and all the rooms were on the first and second floor :P Well the hotel was too good and so was dominos pizza. Ironically, all the days we ate pizza as one of our meal :P (Something which we cant do with our anti pizza husband's :P )finally, we came to our hotel room and sat on the open terrace playing antakshri till we were super sleepy and both me and Abha had to use loo's. Remember our stomach issues :P
In the morning we had breakfast and headed towards Chandigarh. Again the bus was delayed by two-three hours and we reached station just in time for our train. This time the train was full of kids like google and it was so difficult to make them sleep even for their parents, so after a few scoldings from Neha and Abha everyone went to sleep and we four played cards for a while. fourth was Lokesh who was traveling from Chandigarh to Jaipur in the same compartment and somehow how gave us the decent guy vibe so we gelled up shushing the "wat if...'s" in the mind.
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