Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shimlalaya Express

Yay! Another round of India photos are ready, lookie here. After having been burnt and boiled thoroughly in Rajasthan during the first two weeks of the trip, the time had come to travel up into the mountains and cool down a bit. So I did, through one of the most dirty and depressing main bus terminals I know, Kashmiri Gate in New Delhi. You really have to look after your mind there, or you might well lose it.

Fortunately everything went fine there, and five hours later I was in Chandigarh, possibly the one and only well organized city in India. Even I can look like an ant if I'm far enough away from the observer. Indians, however, can look like ants even when you have them right next to you. They're experts at swarming and teeming about, creating an apparent chaos, but still getting things done in their very special way. And if you annoy them, they will pee on you. Or at least that's what the smell in many Indian cities hints of, I believe. But not in Chandi!

In Chandigarh everything is in perfect working order, chiefly because the city was planned and designed by the architect Le Corbusier, much like Brasilia. Even the garbage in the city has been used to build a park. 50 men have worked for 20 years to create art in many forms out of rocks, broken plates and toilets, power outlets and wires and bottle caps. Rumour has it that it's the second most visited tourist attraction in India, after Taj Mahal. This of course sounds crazy, but then again, apart from Taj Mahal, which major Indian tourist attractions can you name?

Anyway, I quickly moved on from Chandigarh and further up the mountains. Shimla was my goal. Partially because Shimla is a name to fall in love with, and secondly because on the buses taking you there, Hill Sickness Bag are distributed to the passengers. So now my travel sickness bag collection has been extended.

It's difficul to be completely prepared for arriving in Shimla. It probably looks different from all cities you've been to before. The central part of the city is located on the ridge of a mountain, many places with room for buildings on only one side of the street. Many places the city looks like it's full of skyscrapers where every floor has its own look, but when you look closer, you see that the terrain is just crazy steep, and the skyscrapers you saw at first, turn into houses with different designs just being located very close to each other horizontally, but often far from each other vertically.

I don't think I've ever seen a city of this large size with so many houses and so few streets. It's just not possible to fit in normal streets between many of the houses in Chandigarh. Yet there's lots and lots to see when walking around there, including real mountain monkeys. For more details, please see the captions I've given the photos.

So, now that I've finished India, can I rest? Not at all! Everything's ready for my next project, which is to run the semi-marathon here in Oslo on September 26. I'm not in a really good shape right now, but that's fine, except the next thing on my schedule is to get up really early on September 27 to get on the plane to Bordeaux, from where I'll get on a train to a place where I can walk almost 800 kilometres to get to Santiago de Compostela on the west coast of Spain...

Sometimes even I, myself, don't really understand how I'm thinking. But that's what it's been like for a long time, and it usually works out well. I'm sure that applies this time as well.

In the meantime, take care! #8D)