McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Does the name sound like an Indian town? The name of this city represents both British and Persian. When India was ruled by the British Govt, McLeod was the British Governor of Punjab. Ganj refers to the Persian word “neighborhood.” The city is 5577 feet above sea level, which is also called Mini Tibet of India. The city has a rich history of Tibetan culture, and you will find beautiful monasteries, old cafes, Tibetan crafts, and beautiful landscapes. Besides, you can enjoy waterfalls, museums, and beautiful lakes. It has also been called the home of the Dalai Lama since China exiled this gentleman.
We had no plans to visit to this city, but we still went there. We did not see any attractions there. I have some memories of this city. Altaf and I visited this city in the middle of the night without any plan. Once, he had heard about this city from his colleague when he traveled to another state with his colleague.
Okay, someone is right at this point, “You’re both idiots.” I am not sure if we were stupid or courageous or felt safe in each other’s company. There are many common things between us. We were courageous. We never did anything according to plan. We loved taking risks. That day, I was exhausted, and my mind was filled with fog after working a 12-hour-long night shift, then a 14–15-hour-long flight from west to east. Instead of boarding the plane, we started driving from New Delhi towards JK. We were risk-takers, so there were no bodyguards or weapons with us.
On our way, we enjoyed Punjabi food (Puri and Channa) at Haveli in the Jalandhar district of Punjab. Bubby, do you still remember Channa and Puri, which you loved a lot? Our stomach was full, and now we needed place to crash. I can not drive in India. In India, only Indians can drive because nobody follows the rules being stubborn Indians. Take your own responsibility or risk if you decide to drive in India.
India is known for new technology and innovation but please never trust the GPS system. While passing by McLeod Ganj, he suddenly remembers the good review of this town so we decided to spend the night there. He is a perfect driver, and night did not stop him from driving. However, I was also worried about him because he was driving for more than 15 hrs now. We followed the GPS direction, which took us through the country road. I love the countryside, but we didn’t see anything because of the fog and darkness. We passed through strange places, and there was hardly anybody around the road except us. Suddenly I saw a marriage palace and a dance party was in progress. I told Altaf to crash the party. He just smiled at my idea.
The city is located on the top of a mountain. We reached the city after driving for at least 2 hours on the mountain. Not to mention, GPS took us to weird routes. I can guarantee the views would be very beautiful, but unfortunately, we didn’t see anything. The road was also not very straight, and there were so many unexpected turns. But we reached our unplanned destination.
As soon as we got there, he did not think it was safe to stay there. He sensed some unknown threat. He told me about his concern. I felt safe in his presence all the time. So it didn’t matter if we were on the battlefield or were driving in JK’s streets without security or weapons. He was my love and protector. Therefore, I never worried about myself. I knew he was with me, and no one could hurt me in his presence. I don’t know whether I trusted him or my love. But his safety was my number priority, so we decided to leave the city right away. We were tired and very sleepy. But we decided to go back to the main road. While driving back, the local cops stopped us, but after checking his ID and my USA passport, they allowed us to leave. Finally, we stopped at hotel 17 at Jammu to get some rest and sleep because there was a long journey ahead of us in the morning.
I knew he was with me, and no one could have dared to hurt me in his presence. Can I say or think like that today? No, I can’t say or think about this today. Everything has changed. Later on, we talked about our unplanned visit to McLeod Ganj many times. Today, I remember on behalf of both of us.