Monday 8 September 2014

Days 142-144: Manali to Delhi - A tranquil bus ride?

Colourful doors at the monastery
In monsoon-hit Manali, we drank lots of lemon tea then paid a visit to a Buddhist monastery.  Outside, a big poster showed the Dalai Lama thanking India for fifty years of refuge, while an inscription detailed the persecution of Buddhist monks in Tibet.  We won't be making it to MacLeod Ganj on this trip, current home of the Dalai Lama, but there will be plenty of Tibetan monasteries to visit in Nepal instead.

From asceticism to consumerism, we went for a brief clothes shopping session, where we tried to be 'down with the kids' but failed to buy anything tie-died.  Then it was time to board the bus for Delhi.  As veterans of some epic bus journeys in South America, a fifteen-hour overnighter sounded like a brief trip.  And after our bus ride from Chittru to Manali, it would also be a safe and easy one.  Wouldn't it?

Barring lengthy and inexplicable stops during the first few hours of the ride, this hypothesis seemed correct.  At first.  Then, at 2:30am, we were all told to get off the bus and move to a different one as ours had a fault.  While inconvenient, this didn't seem like much of a problem until we saw the state of the new, 'non-faulty' bus.

"You know Susan, I think they intend to drive it Delhi like this"
The windscreen was so badly smashed that it leaned into the bus at about sixty degrees.  Huge spears of glass jutted out, pointing towards the passengers.  And in a burst of good fortune, we were in the front seats of the bus ie. first in line for decapitation.  Guy wandered down the aisle to see if any other places were free but alas the bus was full.

After driving tentatively for a few hundred metres the driver clearly decided that, hot as it was, he didn't fancy a glass shower that night, so he decided to kick out the windscreen completely.  After a few minutes work with knives and hands, he had reduced it to a glass carcass lying in the road while we drove off into the night.  Now for the 250km ride to Delhi without a windscreen!

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