Monday, September 17, 2007

The Shakes

One thing I forgot to mention about Shimla is that it is the quintessential middle class Indian tourist town. And all the thousands of middle class Indian tourists do is walk up and down The Mall, about a half mile strip of shops and tourist crap strung along the top of the Shimla ridge.

And the other thing to mention is the monkeys. Hundreds of them live right in and among Shimla, and troops are forever climbing up and down the sides of buildings, over rooftops, from there to trees, and back again. They're not the most attractive of monkeys, almost baboon like, but they come in all sizes from ridiculously cute babies clinging to mother to teenagers to big old males. The Indians totally ignore them, but it's hard for us not to be entranced.

But that was about all there was to Shimla, so we got ready to leave on Thursday night. I was so knocked out by our hotel's hot water that morning that I decided to take another shower right before bedtime. Bad idea. When I went to dry myself off the night cold got to me, and my body got a case of the shakes. Maureen threw a bunch of stuff over me and it calmed down.

The bus Friday morning was supposed to be 'deluxe', but it had cramped, barely cushioned seats. For 10 hours we crawled down and around endless curves, finally ending up in Manali, which is supposed to be more of an alpine type resort, around 5:30.

It isn't. Rather it's another crowded, somewhat annoying Indian town surrounded by pine covered hills at the head of a valley. We found a hotel, then went across the street to a restaurant, which had high priced but decent food.

By now I was feeling quite exhausted, having gamely put up with the vicissitudes of the past week. Now, as we walked in the night back across to the hotel, I started getting the shakes again.

And they didn't go away once I was under the covers.

Saturday was basically spent in bed with a fever of about 100. Fortunately, I wasn't showing any other signs of disease. And by Sunday morning the fever was gone. By Sunday evening I had enough energy to walk around a bit.

Meanwhile we were figuring out how to get out of here. A Super Deluxe bus back to Delhi probably would be, but Delhi is 100 degrees, and the places we were going from there are 105. A taxi to Ladakh would be cool, and I was negotiating for one, but it turns out that they don't have heaters and go up over 17,000 feet, and we don't have winter clothes with us.

So it looks like we're taking the Deluxe bus to Dharmsala, the home to the Delai Lama and a bunch of Israeli hippies, tonight. Supposedly this Deluxe is going to better than the last one, although like the bus to Delhi, it only goes at night...


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