3 December 2004
10 hours on a loud bouncey horn blasting bus from Shimla to Dharamsala Cost a mere 190Rs. I haven't had any stomach problems, though the other night I felt a little storm brewing and thought "here we go..." Everyone says I will get sick at some point. Its guaranteed. The bugs build up in your stomach and then one toke over the line sweet jesus... But it passes quite quickly. I fight a hint of a cold (no heating in the Shimla YMCA, a popular big old colonial institution).
But I've been eating at very untouristy Dhabas. Some old guy usually smiles and grabs me and puts me in a seat and soon I'm eating delicious simple Channa (chickpea) Masala with coriander and curd. This is north india, so its lots of breads like Parantha (on the grill or puffed in the tandoor). And always Chai (tea), every couple of hours or so I stop somewhere and get a Chai. The guys who hang out around the chai stalls often want to talk, practice the english, find out where I'm from. This is always the first question. Then I explain that we hate George Bush too. And that I've never met anyone who supported him. This makes everybody happy to hear. The whole planet is worried about the US gov't.
For breakfast, prantha with potato and veg chopped into the batter, grilled and served with fresh curd. I talk about cricket and photography. I don't know much about cricket, but I've seen the movie Lagaan, which gets me plenty of cred.
So anyway, I decide to be a bit more careful about what I'm eating. If you are a local, you have more strength in the stomatch, and I need to build up a bit more. In Shimla I stop to look at a chicken who is sitting on top of a pile of chicken feet. He hasn't figured it out yet. The chicken stall owner keeps me in conversation for a half hour, insists on treating me to chai and some veg thing with a simple bun. I've eaten no meat since I've been here, and no alcohol. And not felt the need for either. I'll drink Chang (millet beer) or toddy (naturally occuring coconut liquor) when I find it. No rules, just haven't drank anything since NYC.
I do eat nuts, slow roasted, mixed with red onion, chopped up raw green chilis, masala and lime juice. served in a banana leaf for 5 Rs. Really really good.
And I wait until dharamsala for some tibetan food.
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