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...