The rest of Tawang
Bum-La (or Bumla) was a favoured destination, simply because it had China on the other side. Madhuri Lake was a suggested destination because Madhuri Dixit had graced it with her presence for Koyla. Ani Gonpa was a desired destination as it would complete the Monastery connection for us.
We saw none of these places.
At the War Memorial, we met a south Indian set of army men: a Kannadiga from Gulbarga, a Tamilian and a Keralite. Among them they opined that there should be no problem in us going to Bum-La, only that we had to get our own vehicle. We decided that it might not be worth the trouble given that there had been snowfall around Bum-La recently.
The War Memorial, it must be said, is well-maintained. It is a tribute to the Indo-China war heroes. Some of the black-and-white pictures displayed there are evocative of those days of conflict.
On our way back, there was a Rajasthani guard at the gates of the army base. He started talking to us. He and his uncle had a shop in Bangalore and from what we could gather, that job at the gates of the base was very lonely. Postings in such places come with a higher salary, for good reason, and it was preferred purely for the money. As we were talking to him, a senior official admonished the guard for talking to us. Rattled, the guard asked us to stand on the other side of the road. As we stood there, this guy left his post, chasing some grazing cattle. We thought he might return, since he was the one who stopped us to chat. He just didn’t return, and what started as an instinctive shouldering of responsibility, turned into a self-indulgent siesta. The cows had long gone, but he followed them. It soon became clear that it wasn’t the cattle; he just wanted to take a stroll down the road. We left.
In the room, Sreesanth had performed a dance routine against Andre Nel and it was fodder for news channels all over. India looked like winning a Test in South Africa and soon every true follower of the sport would be asking himself, “Where was I when India won her first ever Test in South Africa?” We weren’t sure where we’d be. But the next morning, after getting to know that there was a bus, direct to Tezpur, we couldn’t resist the temptation of avoiding Tata Sumos. It cost us less as well, at Rs. 250 per head, we got two good seats in Potala Travels. The lady at the counter wrote our names down and I was slightly surprised to see that we were among just 7-8 people in the bus. That was the first sign I missed.
For the sheer torture of it, I’ll never forget the “Potala Express”.