|After the course at Tushita, Vib (Aussie) and I gradually re-entered the real world starting with a coffee and poached eggs at Moon Peak the great Tibetan coffee shop. We were sad to learn that the wonderful puppy Maggie who we had enjoyed had been knocked down outside the shop and had broken both of her back legs. We were told that a Dutch couple was looking after her and that they were planning on bringing her to Europe with them.
Vib and I had a couple of days in Mcleod Ganj and then we caught a bus to Chandigarh, India's only planned city. The bus journey was rapid and restless, I often felt like I was doing a headstand against the side as I napped. I think it was often cornering on two wheels and I was glad it was dark so I couldn't see down the cliff edge as we hurtled around. We arrived late and as we hadn't managed to book a hotel started the gradual taxi crawl from place to place to try and find somewhere to lay our heads. Chandigarh is like no where else I have been in India. There are no cows. The roads are wide boulevards with roundabouts. There are banks everywhere. There was an eerie ghost town feel when we arrived. The only budget options listed in the Lonely Planet were full so we started asking at swankier places and were shocked at how expensive the prices were. Finally at the sixth "We are Full", our exasperated rickshaw driver took us to a place out by the railway station. This was seven km from town. We went in and a row of slightly high, overweight men looked us up and down. They undressed us with their eyes. We asked to see a room. They laughed a bit and then showed us the scummiest, most down-trodden place I have seen so far. The price was outrageous but it was either there or the back of the rickshaw so we checked into Hotel Scumbag (not the name on the card but if the glove fits...).
The next day we wandered about the city and checked out the rock garden which was quite incredible. The city itself is bizarre and seems to have been made by someone with shares in concrete. It is back to back buildings that are in the 1950s blocky, soviet sort of style. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I suppose. It was interesting to see such a clean, planned out city amid the hustle and chaos that is usually India. I have to say though I missed the cows, stray dogs, and general mayhem and felt odd to be surrounded by sterile greyness.
Tomorrow we are off to Jaipur and I will meet up with Mike again!