When was the last time you read a story or watched a movie, and after some time you experienced something exactly like that? In other words, when was the last time you had a feeling of Déjà vu?
And so it happened, that I was travelling from Shimla to Manali in the winters of 2010. Shimla is a beautiful hill-station in India, similar to Manali. In fact, it is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh. And hence, it attracts lots of tourists, and you can find the hustle-bustle of the city almost throughout the year. Also, the Englishmen who ruled India during the British rule, made Shimla their summer capital. That’s a reason you will find many ancient cottages and houses of British architecture. But, let’s not talk about Shimla now, because if I start expressing the beauty and colours of this pristine land, am pretty sure the Sun would already be shining again, and Neil Armstrong would have made his second attempt on the Moon 😀
In order to reach Manali, we had to take the Indian National Highway – 21 (NH-21). It is my personal preference to normally travel by road or rail because, you get to meet a lot of people in your journey, and that gives you some good opportunities to know the culture better and also to see a lot many things of the locals. True to that, that an air travel is much faster, but that is what it is. Moreover, its costlier too, man! My suggestion to you if you are travelling in India will be to either travel by train or the road (for short distances.) Am pretty sure, you would love to see so many new things. Also, cultures in India change around every 500 kilometers, so it will be that you won’t even have had the time to soak-in a new culture, that another will await you the next 5 minutes 😉 So, while on my road journey, which was about 273 kilometers (170 miles approx.), I came across so many different cultures. It was really hard to soak in all at one time. Somewhere, the women would have these big-big nose-rings, with a heavily coloured cloth on their head, and then only after a 5-minute drive, the rings would exchange places to the ears 😀 I was lucky enough that the car driver kept reiterating all the stories of these locales. Suddenly, after about half an hour of round and round travel through those narrow mountainous roads, I came across this BIG flock of sheep.
It was almost sunset, the Sun was sinking and there was a bit of dust in the air, and guess what …. the car was surrounded by a huge flock of sheep. All that I could hear was the “Baaaa…..baaaa…baaa” …. sheeps bleating all around the car. We were covered all around. Seemed to me that probably the sheeps were telling the car-driver to get out, so that they could drive and give Michael Schumacher a run for his money 😀 Hehe, finally I spotted the shepherd a few metres away, and he helped the sheep move back away from the car. As our car stopped, I turned around. Wow! What a view!! It was as if the World stopped in front of me!
The Sun shone high, once again. All that I could think at that moment was of Santiago. All of you who must have read Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist‘ will surely know what I am talking about. I went towards the shepherd, smiled and said a soft hello. We conversed for about 5 minutes. I asked him, where his home was. Everything of what he said, seemed exactly as what I had read in the book. The feeling of Déjà vu. He had no home. He had only one purpose in his life. Travel. Travelling was all that he knew, and these sheep were all that he had. Maybe he was following his dream. Or, maybe seeking an unearthly treasure. He didn’t talk much, but occasionally smiled. Finally, it was time for me to leave. I waved and said good bye. “Wow!! That surely was an amazing feeling“, I thought to myself. I had met the alchemist. While returning to the car, I saw this wild dog and clicked a few shots.
Back in the car, the driver told me that these wild dogs are even meaner than wolves. They know only their masters and their only purpose is to protect the sheep and not let them get away. And that they got threatened when any stranger would come near them. “Thank God, I am in one-piece”, I thought 😀 I had gone way too close to take a shot. But anyway, c’mon it doesn’t look like a Tiger, ehh? Finally, as the dusk was falling, we sped fast to reach Manali, and in all that time thinking only about one thing — I had met The Alchemist.