September 7th 9am - Part 2 Manali to Leh = Snowstorm

Our caravan continued with the persistence of telemarketers.
The two-wheel-drive Traveler Jeeps persevered through the three-foot snow until they slid from the road like vehicles on ice skates. Once the glide generated, the automobile reversed until the wheels wedded with the snow-covered concrete cleared minutes before. The three vehicles trailing reversed in a four-car retreat that resembled ducks doddering backwards.
One man materialized like Harry Potter and with a Neanderthal shovel, spaded the snow from the path until the jeep found a foothold. The jeep drove for six feet before spilling from the street again. Harry Potter would reappear, shovel and disappear, only to manifest five minutes later. His shovel doubled the prized possession of a caveman and looked like the metal had been fastened to the wooden shaft with string.
In two hours we progressed two hundred meters. The Indians were apparently under the impression that a bulldozer and chains were unnecessary. Our passage over the 16,020 foot Baralacha Pass made as much sense as Slyvester Stallone naming his son Sage Moonblood.
Although my sheer pants provided as much warmth as an icicle, I adjudicated that as I wasn't afflicted with explosive diarrhea or barking bloody feces, I was as happy as an orphan adopted by Oprah Winfrey. The other passengers didn't share my enthusiasm.
The French remained immersed in their blanket, the Brit was reduced to an infantile state, and the Aussies were so assured of our impending death that one of them deemed it logical to smoke a joint in the snow to tranquilize himself into a soothed state. Instead, as we skidded over the snow towards the edge of the cliff, he assumed the cracked character of one with Paranoid Personality Disorder.

When our driver desisted driving at eight o'clock at night, I asked what was happening. Earlier, while we had sat like perplexed dung beetles, he had exited the vehicle for twenty minutes to have a conversation and for ten minutes to relieve himself. He replied that we were staying the night at this tent community.
"Excuse me, but can we please get our bags down from the roof? A few of us have sleeping bags," the French female requested.
"Ya, I actually have a shirt with sleeves in my bag," I said.
"No, bags stay on roof," he said and then stalked off like Hitler.
The Brit cried.
We crept into what looked like a circus tent to discover a stove and sleeping areas.
"Blanket," the Brit said and thrust money at the owner. He burrito-wrapped himself and then pronounced, "Chai," between shivering lips. The rest of us relapsed in conversation while he curled into the fetal position.
The next day the snow shifted to desert and our progression was impeded by road blockades and detours instead of arctic conditions more suitable for polar bears than Westerners. Our journey, originally supposed to last seventeen hours, endured for thirty-two.
We later learned that the pass closed as we were on it.

Weeks later, on the return ride from Leh to Manali, the Brit self-medicated himself into a semi-comatose state with a deluge of drugs, including Valium and Ketamin, a horse tranquilizer.

* Published on in October 2009

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