21 August 2009

last day in dharamsala

okay, it's been hard to decide what to do next, and to leave this place. it's been very comfortable (although the town is starting to feel very small, same walks by the same shops and sights every day), there's so much coffee in town, and the inertia is hitting us hard. maybe there's more inertia at higher altitudes, i don't know.
but i think we're set to leave tomorrow. another couple days of crazy travel, with paradise waiting at the end (if the fates allow...).
we're going to take a public bus up to Jammu, a 5 hour, relatively flat ride, from what i'm told, then we take a shared cab up to Srinigar in Kashmir. We've got leads on 2 houseboats. one is farooq, brother of bashir, whom we met here in dharamsala. he owns a shop here, i started talking to him, and he's got a houseboat on dal lake. he called his brother and they're ready for us, they even have flowers for our room because they know we're on our honeymoon. and as a backup, baba, our hotel manager from the Ladies' Venture, has family with a houseboat up there too, and i've got his number. (it's great having a phone here.) i think baba's place will be cheaper than farooq's, but farooq's is still relatively inexpensive and relatively more luxurious, so we'll probably start there. plus his brother bash was so nice, i know they'll make us feel like family. these houseboats stays are very homey, eating with the family, which sounds very nice.
kashmir is pretty much 100% muslim, they say it feels like iran or afghanistan as far as that goes, which i'm very much looking forward to. all the kashmiris i've met so far have been super sweet and hospitable. plus, ramadan starts tomorrow, which is a great time to go, festival time, with feasts after sunset every night. should be a very different experience, another adventure. i've always wanted to go to kashmir and finally it's safe to do so.
we're going to enjoy one last day here in dharamsala and then head up, stay there about a week, and then figure out how to get back down, and make our way to mumbai to start my work there.
by the way, the dogs here have been quite a challenge. dharamsala is where i was bit by a rabid dog 14 years ago, and while i'm skittish about dogs everywhere in india, especially so here. the first night we were out late they were running around wildly, there are so many street dogs, it really freaked me out. i think i may have hid behind heather once or twice (not exactly throwing her to the wolves but instinctually not far off). plus the streets are steep and narrow, especially if there's a car or motorcycle passing, so there's sometimes no place to hide from them. but a group of european veterinarians just arrived here to spay and neuter the dogs and take care of the sick ones, and the dogs do look a little healthier than last time. i cringe when i see tourists bending down to pet them, but it's been okay, and i guess it's helping me deal with the fear a bit.
okay that's all for now. see you in the kashmir valley! i'll take pix there, for sure...

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