Actually, this ride wasn’t bad at all. On the first day, we sat behind Arju, a 20 year old Indian student who was unjustly cast from his enviable window seat by a young mother who had a hair trigger on her “I’ve got ovaries, give me what I want” guns and the chivalrous mob of clerical workers who came to her aid. Apart from sharing some fairly misguided ideas about the world with us, he told us about Aghori Sadhus (truly horrific link 1 and 2) a sect of cannibalistic holy men who you can witness publicly eating corpses in an attempt to purge themselves of “disgust” for Lord Shiva.
He also had a bottle of rum on him, which we started helping him polish off, chasing it with a tall extra-strong beer of our own, at 5:30 AM.
We rode through imposing 15,000-foot-plus passes and skidded around roads stubbornly paved into places where roads shouldn’t exist. Nothing really momentous happened for the rest of the day, except that Devon prompted a pretentious, condescending philosophy student from London named Jack to forcefully declare, “I don’t think there’s anyone more uncultured than Americans, man!”
For context, this was all because, for several hours as Jack maliciously debated Arju (as in, used obscure English expressions to trip him up and told him bluntly several times, “You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about”) then conspicuously read “War and Peace”. Armed with some expressions of his own, Deputy Devon farted continuously in his direction as a bold expression of his disdain for Jack’s personality.
The next day we ran into a landslide, and yet another case of the “Oops, the Indian Government forgot to build a road here!” on 13,051-foot Rohtang Pass. (Rohtang, incidentally, means in Tibetan “pile of frozen corpses”.) After about a million cycles of starts, move five feet, stop, repeat we rounded up some worthy whiteys, abandoned the bus and hiked down the entire thing to the riverside chai tents below.
Two hours later, when the bus caught up with us (nearly soaring past us), we found our seats, as well as Devon’s pillow were stolen by a Nepalese woman with large and unyielding hindquarters. But we ended up in Manali. And we saw some good sights.
Then Steve got sick again, thought it was still Giardia, bought more intestine-cleansing antibiotics, and inadvertently killed all the probiotic bacteria in his body, thus ensuring the extension of his emaciated appearance, and the prolonged pronouncement of his pelvis bones. Devon started coughing up blood.
(Ample) photographic evidence follows below: