IT rained cats and dogs in Himachal Pradesh earlier this month. Thousands of locals and tourists were stranded across the state, particularly in the Kullu-Manali area. The authorities were inundated with SOS calls.
This reminded me of my experience of being stranded. I was posted as SDM at Pangi, a remote, land-locked valley. I was to leave for my home in Hamirpur to attend to my wife, who was in the family way. According to doctors, August 7 was the probable date of delivery. I took the shorter route via Lahaul. It was a rainy day on July 31, 1988. The narrow paths carved through rocks had turned slippery and the prospect of shooting stones was another threat.
The rain that was coming down in trickles now became torrential. After an arduous journey of 50 km, I, along with two fellow pedestrians, reached Tindi, where we hoped to catch a bus. But our hopes were dashed. Buses had stopped plying due to rain-induced landslips. There was a possibility that we could get a means of transport at Udaipur, 20 km away. We were tired, but plodded on with weary steps to make it to Dhandal, only to face another ordeal. The stream flowing by Dhandal was in spate. We made a human chain to cross it, but its fast currents scuttled our efforts.
Dhabas across the stream were so near and yet so far from us. Where do we stay? Whom do we contact and how do we do it? Such questions reverberated in our minds.
In this hour of distress, our eyes suddenly fell on a truck of the state electricity board. Desperately, we shouted ‘hello, hello.’ The driver and the cleaner came out. Despite being stranded for two days, they graciously accommodated us and we sat huddled on the front seat, waiting for the morning to dawn.
The stream had ebbed a bit in the morning, but it was still challenging to cross. We braved the currents and finally landed on the other side. The extremely cold water had benumbed our legs.
We resumed our journey after breakfast and reached Udaipur in the evening. We checked into a hotel. It was shocking to learn that the road up to Keylong was in disrepair. It was a journey of over 50 km to Keylong and our patience had already given way.
I met the Udaipur SDM and, through him, contacted the Deputy Commissioner at Keylong. I was assured of being picked up in a jeep midway between Udaipur and Keylong. With this hope, we set out on our journey, but it was only near Tholang village that we got a ride.
The Deputy Commissioner was kind enough to arrange transport from Rohtang to Manali the next day. I reached home on the eighth day after suffering acute mental agony and physical fatigue. But all this pain went away soon, as we were blessed with a son on August 15.
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