Early in the morning Eva and I said goodbye and she set off to Ladakh. Not many travellers take this route at this time of day and she had a shared taxi to herself. And so she left me all alone. But I was lucky and didn’t stay alone for long but set off in the afternoon to meet Mr. Sharma. He had been the director of the SECPAD school in Zanskar for many years., where I did the Kamerakidz-Project. He lives in Duwara, a place between Kullu and Manali, where I have also been in the past. In the meantime, he is the director of a government school in a village around the corner in the mountains, where he always goes on his moped. At the moment, however, he attends a state-organised further education on more creative teaching/learning methods. Anyway, we had a lot to talk about.
Small side note: Those who follow my blogs may remember the sick boy of the Kamerakidz – see here and here. Mr. Sharma was also very fond of him. And recently the news reached me that he has passed away. So sad!
I went to Himachal Pradesh to explore more travel ideas and see what else there is to see that isn’t at the top of the sightseeing lists. Mr. Sharma recommended Jana – a large picturesque village with great old houses and a waterfall at the end of a road on the opposite side of the river. So I had to go! I joined several people at the local bus stop and drove a few km to Patlikuhl.
At Patlikuhl, a bus could have gone across the river and up to Naggar or to the turnoff there, but none came. I just started walking anyway.
And after the bridge, I decided to take the footpath shortcut to the road and had to climb relatively high. In the process, I passed all kinds of houses etc.
And I could (finally) listen to the podcast again, which I love to do when I walk/hike. And this time I was amazed: The Delhi podcast (my favourite, german only) was about the difficulties between Canada and India. You can read about it in the news. Or my little teaser summary: In June, a Sikh (Hardeep Singh Nijjar) who was an activist for an independent Khalistan and a Canadian citizen was murdered. Now Canada thinks that agents of the Indian government are behind it. The government is outraged. And it’s all rather tricky.You have to listen or read! I visited the Sikh temple in Delhi, the Bangla Sahib Hemkund in Uttarakhand last year and the Golden Temple in Amritsar years ago. Every now and then you meet Sikhs in India (rather in the northwest) and their history is not uninteresting, especially since Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the plane crash by bomb in 1985. Enough teasers?
The road to Jana is an 11.5 km junction and I was maybe at km 9. That was still quite a distance, but Mr. Sharma was very confident that there were lots of cars that could give me a lift. The cars were also going – but only in the opposite direction. And apple cars on short stretches. After a few more kilometres, however, I was lucky and a very fancy car came and stopped. Inside was a young man who looked like business, not mountains. He was on his way to Jana to pick up his grandpa for a wedding somewhere else. Jana is his homevillage, but he had to leave it for a job. He had studied and was now working for a Japanese company manufacturing medical equipment in Delhi. Of course he would rather live here in the mountains, but he liked the job too much.
The road had mighty steep slopes, but the young man drove brilliantly and then we were already at the entrance to the village. The road is above the village and on the slope below are the truly large homesteads and a temple clinging to the mountainside. 1,500-2,000 people live there and here are some pictures of Jana:
From the village, I walked a little further and came to the Jana waterfall. It was not really exciting, but the dhaba next door was. A resourceful villager, Mani Ram, offered thalis with local food. Thalis are tin plates with various different dishes and side dishes, which are always rich, cheap and tasty. Here is a report about Mani Ram. And here are photos from waterfall and Thali.
Here, too, the tourist lull was noticeable: hardly anyone there. And because of the low number of vehicles, I asked the Indian couple at the waterfall if they would take me down. They did! They were from Tamil Nadu, he works for Vistara Airlines and they tried to get to know all the places in India with 2-3 holidays a year. After that, they were to go out into the wide world.
To cut a long story short, I got back without much further wallking. There, Mrs. Sharma greeted me with a request. She is a teacher in a big government school around the corner. And the next day was World Tourism Day. And at her school the older children are also introduced to professions – for example in the hotel and tourism sector. She told the teacher about me and they thought it would be a good idea if I came the following day and told the children about my experiences. This also seemed interesting to me and so I went to the school with Mrs. Sharma the next day.
In the classroom, the blackboard was decorated and the room was rearranged a bit.
I had a little chat with the teacher Rohit and was shown around the school and then went into the big assembly room where I was welcomed and given a local cap and got very excited.
And then I told a bit about how I did a hotel apprenticeship after school, how I travelled to India for the first time in 1992 and even went to Manali, and how I led my first tour group in 1997 and started my travel agency in 2000, and this and that, and how great and not at all boring the hospitality tourism sector was and how important they were as future workers in it because of the experiences that the travellers would then take back home. Then the gentleman on the right (a person with a degree in tourism) summarised my story in Hindi and stressed the importance of communication. The other gentleman was an English teacher, he said nothing. Then a boy stood up and also said a few words and that he was now very inspired.
Then we had to hurry to the classroom where we, i.e. also the entire teaching staff were welcomed and we were served a delicious meal like in a restaurant.
And then – tata tata – there was even a report in the paper the next day!
After this exciting morning and noon, I went for a walk up the mountain where I had beautiful light:
And so in the evening I was again very satisfied with my experiences. The next day I went to the Tirthan Valley and had booked a small trekking tour from there into the Great Himalayan National Park, where I was to carry my luggage myself without sleeping bag and tent, and just now I received a call that the guide had probably seen me and was now very doubtful that I would be able to carry the pack myself….. But stubbornly I’m sticking to it!