Never in my life have I travelled so much like this year. My present designation as the Education consultant or rather specialist of Tibetan Fund entitled me to make frequent visits to neighboring Tibetan schools in connection with the ongoing Teacher Professional Development project. So, on Friday after my short 3 hours session at Sarah with the 6 new Religious teachers on Teacher Professional Development, I made my way to Tibetan Homes School Mussoorie in Dehradun.
Earlier, whenever I got any engagement that needed me to undertake night journey, I used to go a day in advance because if I didn’t do that I would always feel weak and sick. Lately due to these frequent journeys, I realized that I needed to force myself into sleep no matter what. And I did that and it worked. I no longer felt weak and sick. I realized that the reason why I felt weak and sick earlier was my mistake of staying awake looking through the windows and playing with my mobile. So, these days, the moment I got into bus, except for few minutes settling down here and there, I always forced myself into sleep and kept counting the hours I slept to make sure that I got enough sleep to keep me fit the next day.
Due to the acute shortage of passengers going towards Dehradun lately, the regular deluxe buses plying from Mcleod ganj was reduced to either Tempo Traveler or Tata Sumo. So, I preferred taking the regular government bus service. The bus left exactly at 5:30 in the evening and dropped us around same time the next morning; me and my colleague at Dehradun bus stand. It was still early when I reached Rajpur, my colleague’s home and my transit.
After my ablution and petty engagement at THF Rajpur school, I left for Mussoorie in the car my team mate owned. We were lucky to arrive there right on time as when we arrived the teachers there were carrying on their discussions about their PGP (Professional Growth Plan) to which we were supposed to be attending. The program started at 1:30 and went till 4 pm. We used that wonderful opportunity to talk to the teachers there once again about the TPD and its importance.
Returning the same day, worse than Dharamsala scenario, there wasn’t a single bus going to Dharamsala from Dekyiling that very day I was to return home. Luckily my team mate Gen Tashi Dhoundup la dropped me till Dehradun bus stand. I had to change two buses before reaching here. The bus I boarded at Chandigarh was half filled. And one could well imagine how it would be inside the bus especially when half filled that too in the night of cold November month. The bus was ordinary and thus windows remained half opened irrespective of how many times one closed the window!
I was wearing the same formal dress that I wore during the presentation; the pant and the blazer and the cold breeze was killing me softly. I occasionally took out my changes one after the other and stack it up on my body! In the wee hour of morning when the bus stopped at some tea stall, I got down from the bus and looked at my clothes. Lo! I was wearing the blazer covered with another coat with thermal casual trouser below. I looked fully blown which reminded me of an English movie I watched long time back; the Nutty Professor! Thank God despite that funny attire, it gave me great relief in keeping me warm throughout my journey after all.
I went straight toward the chaiwala and he gave me a hot nice tea, I could enjoy each and every sip when it went down through my throat. There was a left over charcoal fire from the previous night bornfire. I squatted around the faint fire which was more than enough to give me some heat. When the chaiwala was done with the tea serving, he came near me and joined the fire. He too looked cold and showed me his stack of clothes. I said to myself wow! I was not the only one after all! As usual I started the conversation like since when he started serving the tea and how many buses had already left and how many more to come. He was kind of amiable person and started his long lecture as if he finally got someone to whom he could share his expertise on this field. He said he stayed 24 hours. I was surprised when he said there were around 15 to 16 buses going to Delhi alone and the same number coming from Delhi around this time! Such number of people travelling every night that too towards Delhi and from Delhi alone! Then he started telling me even about the schedule of each and every deluxe and ordinary bus and the travel agencies too. While fully immersed in his interesting and informative talk, I completed two cups of tea. By then I gained much heat although the fire we were enjoying gradually got diminished. Suddenly, the driver started the engine and I entered the bus waving my hand to that chaiwala promising him for another visit soon.
Next three hours, I had a sound sleep. When I opened my eyes I was at the Dharamsala bus stand. Since it was government run bus, it had taken us straight into the bus stand otherwise those private buses would drop us in the center of the Dharamsala market. Anyway, it was still early; the sun was nowhere to be seen. So, I walked all the way upto my room. The whole town was wrapped in deathly silence except for the occasional barking of the dogs and the shrieking noises of the baboons and monkeys who were so early yet jobless.