Nako Tabo and Khaza – Burning Tracks On The NH22

The entire Spiti Valley is a mountainous icy cold area of Himachal Pradesh with a heavy Buddhist influence. With Monasteries like Kay, it is also a special place for the Dalai Lama as he visits key monasteries in the region. The NH22 runs through this rugged and stony terrain as it connects villages like Nako Tabo and Khaza together and is the main road one will travel through.

The main region has a very brown and dusty look about it as nomads and sheep herders stay in houses made out of mud and stone that have their own peculiar looks and architectural edge. The ice glaciers melt during the rainy season causing streams that gush downwards cutting through stones and boulders. The subsequent slush that is formed blocks the path for the vehicles to go and also cause land slide. As if by luck or bad fortune, my SUV got stuck in one of these landslides. That’s it, more than 60 vehicles stuck along with me. Lucky for us, there were three dhabas stocked with food nearby and as luck would have it, there were also tents and blankets for us to sleep in case the holdup was more than one night. So it proved to be, I realised that I would be spending the night under the stars. I took the nature’s call in nature and then ate at the dhaba a dinner of paratha and subzi. The dhaba had a warm fire in the middle and generally the atmosphere was very cosy. I had struck a friendship with a few army guys who were also held up for the night and they invited me into one of their tents which I shared. This was a great experience as the cool air ran through and across our tent but with sleeping bags and blankets, there was enough protection.

With no phone and no mode of communication available, I was unable to call my friends and grandmother. I had not written and uploaded any photos for six days. Man, I was getting restless! I then bumped into an old acquaintance and gave the obligatory selfie with her as you know that I am a celebrity of some sort, well at least, a small time Bollywood actor. While sipping cups of tea, I chatted with a young couple about the meaning of life and how to fight your inner demons which was all spiritual and philosophical gyaan. Now you know that I have this problem. At times, I talk to myself and at times even loudly so that others can see it. Well, I must have said the word “Rape” to some kid unintentionally. The dad came up to me and said “What rape rape are you saying to me? Move away from me or I will break your face.” I quickly realised that I have to get hold of my constant self-talk and slowly moved away from the angry man. But the experience of being stuck was great as I had nowhere to go, no agendas or deadlines, or an office desk waiting. I was the most relaxed of the lot as some people decided to trek the distance through while others panicked about getting home. I chatted away with my driver about our next stop – the Rohtang Pass and further into Manali.

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