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Enigmatic India

This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lost in Transit

Crowds, traffic, pollution and noise are synonymous with travel in India. Tourists are usually overwhelmed when they encounter these. So, it was, even to us city dwellers, a pleasant surprise when we came across these signposts and traveled through these villages. Can there really be a place that has only 22 or, for that matter, 80 people?
Kurith and Shichling are tucked away in the Himachal mountains. Both these places are very far from any airport, train station, bus stand or a cross road - you really cannot ask for directions as there are no people on the road to these remote places. On our journey, we did not encounter a single person for more than 70 kilometers. It was broad daylight but it was eerie to be on a nice, flat, newly laid metal road and not find people for such a long distance in India.

True to the sign post, 22 people live here. There is a school, a post office, a BSNL outpost and a few houses. 6 months of the year, they are blocked and cut away from the rest of the country due to extreme weather and the blocking of roads. People are hardworking, donkeys are a great asset (often defining the worthiness of a groom) and Potato (Pahadi Aalu) is grown here.

The most prized possessions that are hoarded here are matchboxes and portions of salt. Both are key assets to prepare for the harsh winter when the region is cut off. There is not really any trade here so the existence of the nice flat road surprised us. People were very friendly but could not speak our language. In broken Hindi, we figured that many foreigners often wander into these mountains and camp here. The numbers have been slowly increasing in the past years. The place is not very far from the border and there has been increasing army movement in the area (that explains the road) and the importance of a telephone booth.

The people of Shichling are a little larger population (comparatively :-)). Surprisingly, the women are engaged to clear the roads of small stones that keep rolling down the mountains during landslides. For centuries and for generations, these women have picked stones from the main pathway and set them aside along the road making a nice-looking wall formation. When it snows, these become picturesque and these spots are often used for shooting movies. During summer, the landscape is barren. The weather conditions are unforgiving and the difference of temperature between the shade and the sun can be up to 30 degrees. If you were standing in the sun at 20 degrees centigrade, you could feel the harsh sun burning your eyes, if you went to the shade, the minus ten degrees will urge you to move to the sun. Its an interesting disparity often confusing us, ignorant tourists, on how to dress for the occasion.

The mountains are serene, the air is crisp and still. The sight in the morning is overwhelming.
During winter, the landscape is covered in a sheet of white. The people in these mountains deserve praise to live here, to greatly enjoy the community and survive through the unforgiving weather, often huddling for warmth during the extreme winter and coming together to clear roads for wanderers during summer. Our experience was enigmatic, we were blessed to be here and it was with a mixed sigh of sadness and relief that we left Kurith.

#latebloomer for Enigmatic India.

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