Why do we take holidays? There are different reasons for this. The working people take a holiday to come out of their day to day grind and to rejuvenate. Sometimes, we take holidays to visit relatives, to attend family functions. Other times we take a holiday to visit places, see things. But sometimes, we should take a holiday only for the sake of taking a holiday. But is it necessary that every time we travel, we should do something, see some places, perform some activity? Well, at least we took a ” do nothing holiday” for the first time and it was fun. One thing that is my favourite on any holiday is to watch human interactions along with nature!
We were planning for a holiday in the Himalayas. We were trying the eastern part of India and but in the end, somehow, we finalized on Manali. We booked the vacation for a week and had decided to take it easy. Except for arranging the travel logistics, we did not bother to find details about Manali, except for weather details. This was essential, as in the mountains the weather can be fickle, and it can become cold. We geared us with woollens; our planning was on the dot as the weather turned out to be the same as what we had encountered in the Alps last September, rainy and cold, at least for a few days.
During this holiday, we had decided not to do much of the research so that we could get some surprises when we reached the destination. We had some information about Manali. Our knowledge about Kullu Manali was 30 years old when our son Sachin had come here for trekking, while he was in school. As we landed at Kullu airport, it was a pleasant-looking small airport surrounded by mountains.
When we came out with our baggage, we were surprised to see only 5/6 cars that had come to pick up travelers, around 30 of us. How others were going to move further was a mystery. The driver said that the distance to our destination was about 45 km. In his inimitable way, he said, that it will take 1 ½ hrs. We took two hrs. Courtesy, very narrow and bad, bad roads. The same distance was covered in one hour and twenty minutes on return journey though the driver was not as brisk. This was because we started our journey at 5.30 am
Manali in April presented us with snow-clad peaks, cold weather, sunshine, and rain to our surprise. Of course, it also gave us local Puri Bhaji and Parathas. When it was not cloudy, weather was divine though we had to wrap ourselves in caps, mufflers, and jackets. Our main plan was sitting on the lawns and soaking in the sun and nature. We did take a few photos and a couple of videos, but the main agenda was to absorb the sights and whatever we could absorb from nature. What more do we want in life when you get beautiful nature, lovely weather and surroundings, birds chirping; add to this our usual reading stuff!
Please keep volume high to hear the birds chirping!
We knew that Manali is famous for trekking, white water rafting, skiing, paragliding, and snow. We found another adventure activity there. At Solan Valley, we saw a couple of hundred three-wheel cross country bikes. People take cross country rides on these bikes, with a driver. Behind the driver, there is a two-seater bench where parents and kids sit to enjoy the ride! We were also lucky to see the light snowfall. The flowers in bloom at our resort were beautiful.
Besides the surprises of Manali, we enjoyed our human interaction. We met a doctor couple from Mumbai. Young folks with their 6/7-year old child and their mother, who needed support even to climb down the stairs. But their enthusiasm was to be seen to believed. They had driven down from Mumbai, and the total driving distance was going to be about 4000 km. Driving this distance with their mother, who had physical difficulty in moving around, must be tough. The mother would stay in the hotel all the time when the gang went for trekking and other activities!
We met a couple from Pune, our age group, with their developmentally disabled daughter, who must have been about 40 years of age. They were on a circuitous tour from Delhi to Dharamsala to Manali and back. An arduous journey by road for anybody. But their enthusiasm and the way they handled their daughter’s needs was amazing.
The best interaction with people happened at Pune Airport when we came back. We hired an Ola Cab. When we sat in the cab, the driver said that it was his first trip. I asked him why he started so late during the day; we hired the Cab at 6.30 pm. He said that it was his first trip with Ola! We both gave congratulations to him and wished him great business in the future! He was so naïve that he was unaware of basic things. When the trip started, I gave him the OTP I had received from Ola. He asked me what to do with the OTP. I said that he had to key it in. Did he ask me where to punch the OTP? I naturally did not know. Then I suggested to ask him to check with another Ola driver. It was finally done. He was very helpful, and at home, he put our bags in the lift for us; in fact, he forced us to wait on the side!
We had the pleasure of meeting one couple from Nasik. The husband was an engineer, and his wife a painter. We naturally found some common friends. We had a lovely time with each other. A couple of times, we had a local lunch together.
As planned, did we not do anything? We did a lot of things which we should be doing. We interacted a lot with people. We did not rush into things. Manali “activities” were anyway not suitable for our age group. We soaked into nature, enjoyed the surroundings. Eating and purchasing were only incidental, but trying local stuff was the main aim. One so-called activity we did was going to the Spa! That 90-minute activity was very relaxing, but so was our “not doing anything”! The 90 minutes in Spa gave me deep insight into Manali, local life and surroundings, from my masseur! This “not doing anything” bug has caught up with us, and I am sure our next holiday will also be similar.