Nothing bad about British Airways; it's not their fault that by the end of a 9-hour flight the condition of on-board toilets gave new meaning to the expression "full of shit". Dull flight, even the captain was bored as each half hour he made a laconic announcement: "Only five more hours to go... only two and a half hours to go... only half an hour more to go." Anyway, upon arrival in Delhi passengers were screened with heat cameras and serious-looking doctors wearing face masks, all tryng to find out if we carry H1N1 into the polluted stink of Delhi, which was overwhelming me with its ooze and humid heat even at midnight. This time however I could escape this weapon of mass destruction soon enough as the team from my car rental company, Rajasthan 4wheel Drive was already waiting for me. With a bunch of flowers, since they presumed I'll arrive with my wife. I don't know if it was me who was more embarrassed, me or their Delhi manager when I took the flowers and assured him that I love him too. Anyway, enter Soni the Driver with his prized possession, a shiny white Mahindra Scorpio SUV. Next day in Delhi, trying to cope with the heat and familiarizing myself with the 5DMkII-580EXII combo.
Flight from Delhi to Shimla. I didn't miss the 12-hour train ride at all. Listening during the short flight to State of Bengal's IC408 was fun.
All went well until late evening when it began to rain, getting colder and heavier with every drop. And this rain was to last long. We waited one day in vain to see it stop. Next day we had to leave though. Enter the Big Rampur Downpour.
We managed to sail on stormy sea to Rampur, 164 klicks away. Hoped to make it further but ran into a massive landslide which proved already impossible to cross. We retreated into a place called Sip'n'Drive, the only place around Rampur having two free rooms....
...in a building above the road on a hillside. In sunshine, it must be like heaven. Walking up in the slippery mud to the rooms in total darkness, with my 30 kg gear on my back, it felt more like being in a C-category Vietnam war movie. Anyway, we hoped to make it across the landslide next day or return to Shimla and try an alternative road up north, when the hotel guy told us...
By the end of the day, we drove 130 klicks in 8 hours up and down from one landslide to the other, hoping that at least ONE of them will be cleared. Of course it didn't happen. Rain, rain, rain. But Soni was happy because he had television in his room.
Managed to cross the northern landslide in the early afternoon:
General Paulus must have felt like we did, had he ever managed to break out from Stalingrad. I even managed to take some people shots this day.
Anyway, we made it to Sarahan with its famous Bhimakali temple, which I was about to visit when I realised I'm sick. Spent the dreadfully cold night half-awake, only kept alive by Neocitran, Jack Daniel's and honey tea. At least I had the chance to admire the temple's beauty in the morning fog from my room, sneezing, coughing and cursing the rain.