Mcleodganj is a strange place. People go there to find inner peace but because there are so many people looking for inner peace, Mcleodganj can get overcrowded and the last thing you can hope to find there is peace.
Drive up from Dharamsala through either of the ways, (Khada danda or via Forsythganj), and you are sure to get stuck in stop and go traffic. Reach the main square of Mcleodganj during peak hours, (which are all the hours from 8am to 10pm), and you'll wish you had stayed home in your "peaceful" city.
But then you wake up next day and see a view like this:
And that's where the strangeness comes in. Despite all the people accumulated there, like silt at the bottom of a water tank, the essence of the place still remains peaceful. You can still find peace in Mcleodganj, if you know where to look. And when to look for it. Early mornings are great. Late nights too maybe.
The Wrong Time The Right Place
Our choice of timing to visit Mcleodganj couldn't have been worse. We went there just as the worst week of the monsoon rains hit the Dauladhars and then we returned on the first day that the skies cleared up.
The rains did mean one thing, it was nice and peaceful in our hotel room. Especially when we shifted to the quieter Shiv Shakti Guest House in Dharamkot.
Quick Tip: Go walking to Dharamkot from Mcleodganj and on the way you'll find the cheapest guest houses in the place. Why waste money on a fancy hotel when you can use it to get drunk!
What Else Could We Do?
Literally. There was nothing else to do. So I blame the weather. Not our decision to go at the worst time. Neither do I blame our total inability to tolerate each other's company in sobriety. It was the weather!
So on most days, we woke up late, had breakfast in the guest house, waited for the rain to slow down, went out and had lunch, and began preparing for the night's "program".
We did eat some good stuff. At some good places. Kaffe Nirvana on Temple Road is a decent place. Nice music. Sometimes a bit loud. Great views. And amazing food.
We also visited Jimmy's Italian Kitchen which I remembered as being pretty good but this time around it was only pretty okay.
We ordered a tandoori chicken from a guy who was pissed off at his sue chef for taking too long on his lunch break and so he took a long time to undercook our chicken.
We had some awesome Thukpa at the German Bakery in Bhagsunag. And we drank some coffee at some cafe's. And ate the delicious cakes at Lhamo's.
On three nights we drank whiskey in the guest house and ordered pizza from Pizza Hut. And on three nights we sat in Kailash restaurant and bar and drank beer and ate steamed momos. It turns out I didn't take any pictures in the places where I actually enjoyed the food! Except for this hurriedly taken snap of the awesome momos at Kailash.
Before you judge us for doing nothing but drinking, let me tell you that it was always raining. And yet we did manage to do some sightseeing.
We saw the church of St. John's in the Wilderness, which is the coolest church name I've ever heard.
We actually contemplated death, and life, and understood the meaning of life in that place. So don't think of us as just some drunkards. We are enlightened drunkards!
Then one day we walked to Dal lake and back. A good adventure in the rain. Had some tea in a stall. The guy in the shop was alternating between watching an Amitabh Bachchan movie and the WWE.
Ravi did fall asleep there. But this happens in the rains. Look at this man and his best friend catching a nap.
We did do some other things. I went for a run from Mcleodganj to Tanglewood and back. I tried to get a tattoo from an artist who didn't want to make one. In the end he won. I took this artistic abstract picture.
We saw a local drunk street performer and in solidarity to him as drunkards, gave him some money. (Of course, only after he cursed at us for making a video without giving him money.)
As is customary, I bought some stuff.