Travel Diary : the PERFECT marriage, the hippies and their hippie God

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Shivratri
I think it’s called.
I read it somewhere some time back in probably some cosmic place.
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“And why am I thinking all this now?” you inquire after much contemplation if you should ask. And how do I know this? Well, you spot a deep frown on your forehead, my friend.

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As I recall vaguely, Shiva and Parvati set up house in the Himalayas and since Shiva is unpredictable (so I’ve been informed, but truly this cannot be verified) and can turn everything into ashes in just a blink of his third eye, Shivratri, which is probably (from my limited understanding) today’s modern day equivalent of a wedding anniversary, is celebrated to appease him. Shiva, that is.

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As seductive as his powerful third eye is, what did Parvati see in his asceticism?
His snakes!
His smoking pipes.
And his ashes …

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Trust me. I looked hard. Very hard. Eye burrowing holes into backs type of hard in the Himalayas (sort of) recently at the handful of Shiva devotees from the West that I had chanced upon which I presume were there to worship him. To pay tribute to him.

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Penniless foreigners with matted yellow hair, cheap beaded jewelry sit Shiva like by the riverside and immersed themselves in hot springs, staring into nothingness.

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What a strange bunch of people!
What a strange juxtaposition!
I thought.

Had they been in and about Luna Park (or even strolling along St. Kilda), Melbourne or Camden Town, London, I would have not given a second glance. They would have been labeled ‘hippies’. And boy, do they stink to high heavens?!?

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But, here? In Manali?
We would be foolish to carelessly label them hippies. Though, well, yeah, they look no different from their hippie god. And given that he’s god, but more importantly the ever powerful third eye Shiva god, who’s to judge?
Who dares, really?

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Only days later, via a short message that went along the lines of the message sender witnessing a hippie being zipped up in front of an ancient sacred temple in a black body bag while I was standing knee-deep in a field that stretches as far as the eyes would permit of ‘wild plants’ did I realise two things:

ONE
duuuhhhHHH

I am in a wild hash/marijuana field.

Take cover! No. no NO!!! Run, Penny run…
Wait. F@#$ What do I do? What do I do? Damn. Now I will see M16 and AK47 yielding people for real – those that I don’t see in my shooting club environs.

I don’t wanna die. Not here. Not in this godawful freaking place … and can you imagine the tongues wag when the paper publishes that I stayed in a USD 17 bucks place called V (censored) Palace {what did I tell you about grandiose names attached to hotels? It translates to c-r-a-p.}

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.Photo © Penelope Haque – All Rights Reserved
. Charas / Hash plant growing wild in Manali, Kullu Valley – 2009
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TWO

They are indeed hippies!
They are white hippies who comes to the hills to smoke hash, wander around with loin cloths, spotting vacuous drugged eyes. They may be fans of the hippie god, but certainly are only interested in copying his bad habits.
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And much later, as I was sitting in a badly ventilated eatery along The Mall, calming my nerves down – having survived the self-inflicted ordeal, angst and wild imaginations of 1.5 kgs M16s and AK47s – while fishing out almost microscopic ‘flakes’ out of my rancid tasting hot chocolate did I discover that (1) the ‘flakes’ were baby roaches (yucks!!!), but more importantly that (2) those white hippies weren’t Shiva devotees and they didn’t come for Shivratri simply because it’s (not yet) winter.
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Shivratri is held in winter.

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Well then, you, my dear friend, have to forgive my occasional naive ways here. After all, only Parvati could recognise Shiva under all the ashes and snakes… no ordinary mortal can see the Lord. And I am after all an ordinary mortal in Manali – the Valley of Gods. 

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Link HERE for photo story on Hashish Children of Kullu Valley

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6 thoughts on “Travel Diary : the PERFECT marriage, the hippies and their hippie God

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