Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Misty Mountains and the Road


The weather was rainy. Air cool, it must be raining somewhere. Raindrops, not so frequently, hit the windscreen and became water..

Traffic slowed down to a crawl and then stopped completely. During some stretches of the highway, this road becomes a one way narrow lane ploughed in the mountain range.

The vehicle stopped, it's going to take some time for the traffic to get going again. The driver jumped out. All the people in the bus got talking, shared some old stories and some domestic gossip. The truck drivers of this route seen to have a peculiar habit. If the spot be right, they make it a point to park the truck right parallel to the edge of the gorge. Those big fat tyres sit just  inches away for the plunging depth of hundreds or thousands of feet - it makes no difference to them if it's hundreds or thousands, they just park their truck and get out of the other door. Is this a fool proof method to protect the truck from truckjackers? Or is it their institutionalized method of maximizing the road surface area so that other vehicles can still pass by while their truck just sits on the corner of the narrow road. I don't know.
Time passed, the traffic snarled back to life. But our driver was nowhere to be seen. From the window we looked for him in every direction. Minuted passed, a plastic ghee dibba in hand, our driver came walking down a nearby mountain pathway looking calm and content. Jangal pani. He got into the vehicle and put the dibba back at its place, under the seat. I don't think he washed his hands.

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The area around Banihal looks kind of strange. Some things here seem to suggest it is culturally closer Kashmir and some things that make it  look like part of Jammu district. A masjid seemed to be designed like those in Kashmir, particularly like charar-e-sharif.

The dhabbas lining the road make it a point to tell you that they are offer 100% pure Hindu vegetarian Vaishnav food, and the dhabba right next to it advertises 100% pure Muslim Non-vegetarian 'Waazwan'.

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