Monsoon traveling and a whole lot of pics

There are many things i love about India and then of course there are the many that drive me insanely mad (these are for another blog). 

The various shades of green in the Himalayas i had only seen in pictures, and wow what a difference in person! 

The many nuance of yellow mangos together with ripe bananas, and tiny juicy red apples from Himachal Pradesh neatly arranged on the make-shift carts, covered by a beach umbrella, because the heat and rain. The lotions and potions of the improvised barber at the side of dusty alleys. The colorful silky sarees gently undulating, barely covering the adorned feet of Indian women. The many shades of bangles making their unique "bangling" sound, like tiny pieces of glass dancing together.

I left Rishikesh at the beginning of monsoon season for a road trip_ on a Vespa_ to Nepal (400+km) and Himachal Pradesh (1200+km). 

Of course there is no direct way to go from Nepal to HP because the roads aren't made like that... the only possibility is to come more than half way back and start again in the other direction. 

The roads... the Indian roads... they call some of them highways, but they look more like dirt tracks_holes, unexpected bumps, puddles, covered in debris from land slides that literally tear off part of the mountain, tree branches here and there ..._  i imagine motocross  people would love to do their motocrossing loving thing on these muddy, slimy highways.   

Yes, it's true, everywhere there are signs "work in progress". It's written in English, i assume for more people than just Hindi speaking ones to understand that at some point these roadways will look "normal" (safe, drivable, reliable) any day now... ho sakta hai... 

There are many many workers _ men, women, and children_ who transport stones, bricks and everything else needed to fix the roads on top of their heads or on their backs. There are the many animals that cross the way, chickens, pigs, free horses and working mules, cows, elephants, even a camel i saw. i stopped counting the many dead dogs  when it became too painful (after the first one). And then there are the nice humans_ yes, they still exist_  who on top of the freezing mountain at the border with China that is Rohtang, fill up your scooter tank using their own fuel (here called "petrol") from a water bottle, considering the nearest gas station is 20km on top of the hill and there is no way the Vespa can make it (do they make ice tires for scooters?). There are the many villagers who have hardly ever seen a videshi and look bewildered and surprised at the sight of one.

There are the many butta (ear corn) wallas who stand at the side of the road no matter what the condition of it or the weather, fanning their little thing to make the fire going and roasting the vegetable to order.

The many families of 4/5 on motorcycles with children, bags, dogs, goats, boxes, pieces of furniture; the woman always sitting sideways (how does she not lose her balance?) without helmet. You gotta have faith... And the rain... SO MUCH RAIN! And to think i used to get annoyed and not venture out when a couple of drops were falling...

And what about the search for a hotel? I mean a clean one. A safe one. One that accepts videshi (me)... Yes, that is at times the problem... Foreigners are not always allowed/wanted. Some hotels claim to not have the "C form" i don't know what is, but apparently without it a foreigner is not permitted. Others have signs outside that read "no foreigners" . Ok, i get it. Booking online is more often than not NOT an option, as some of the places are not even on the map, let alone on Trip Advisor.

Then of course there is the issue of the "non signal" on the road. Let me explain, let's say you want to go from point A to point B and after you have figured out how to get there (perhaps, you are lucky enough to have some kind of wifi and you can look at google maps _assuming there is a map for where you want to go_) then you start looking for road signs to confirm you are actually going in the right direction. Guess what? There aren't any. So you end up flagging people down as you are drive, asking, "Hello bhai jee, blah blah jane ke lye accha rasta hai?" (Hello sir... to go ... blah blah, is this the right way?) So basically you rely on the person's knowledge and sense of direction... and it doesn't always work...

So, how do i finish summarizing 15+ days on the road on a Vespa during monsoon season from Rishikesh to Nepal back to Rishikesh, to Himachal Pradesh and then back again? 

I'm going to let the rest of the pictures do the talking.


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