“And all your fears regarding Jay, you must know he loves you as a brother,” said Tanya while listening to my story of Mcleodganj during our Tarot reading session in June.
The drizzle outside was slowly transforming into a heavy downpour, while we stayed huddled inside that cafe, fighting the cold.
Nikhil couldn’t stop ordering ginger lemon honey, while me and Jay kept munching on our Pizza while Pallavi took another drag off her joint and asked us to start playing since Jay was carrying his guitar.
We sat surrounded by many, who were engaged in conversations, while an Israeli girl just across our table kept smiling at Jay, and this ex-army man from Delhi, whom Chavvi introduced us to a few hours ago, kept bragging about his son’s business.
Rain kept getting heavier, as Jay slowly strummed his guitar, nudging me to sing the first song as Pallavi rolled another joint and Chavvi screamed in excitement. Conversations around us finally succumbed to the tunes that echoed through main street of Dharamkot that night, midst the pitter-patter of rain drops.
Day before, while saving ourselves from bad weather in a restaurant, Chavvi arrived with a lady to our table, who seemed to be in her late 20s. That’s how we met Pallavi for the first time, engaged in conversations over the bowls of steaming hot thukpas, as she told us about her ordeals in Parvati Valley.
We hit off in the first meeting, and next morning she had shifted next to our guest house in Dharamkot offering to cook lunch for us, to which we readily agreed. It all lead to five of us, we three, Chavvi and Pallavi, to hangout regularly, including that stormy musical night in Dharamkot’s cafe.
That night we sang till our throats were sore, and later as Jay strummed, the others joined in, turning it into a moment of ecstasy, which set the pace of coming days in Dharamkot when we regularly performed at different locations.
However, that wasn’t all we did during our first few days in Mcleodganj. We were meeting all sorts of people, interviewing them. While one evening we met an Israeli traveller, who told us about his journeys across India, the other evening we were sitting with a Nepali flutist who narrated his life’s story to us, and then one evening, Jay and Chavvi found themselves being hilariously carried around by a crazy dancer, who went by the name of Snow Lion; and then, while returning to our place one night, we found a Japanese musician, walking down the streets, busking.
Mcleodganj was slowly embracing us in all its realms, as we learned to keep up with its pace. And midst all this frenzy, we did a trek to triund, thinking we would strategize in a better way at a place cut off from the civilization.
All we did was sitting down at the edge of a mountain, watching whole Dhauladhar range lit up on a full moon night and singing songs. Next morning Nikhil left early for Mcleodganj, while we were planning to venture ahead, to the higher parts of mountains.
Jay and I continued with our journey, finding our way midst boulders and mule shit lying on our trail. We were straining our legs, taking longer strides since we had to return before dark, and slippery conditions did make me a bit nervous, prompting us to sing songs to cheer ourselves while staring at rising snow capped peaks, which inspired as much as they scared us.
Completely unprepared, we walked over snow using our umbrellas as snow sticks, while our feet were getting stuck in the melting snow. It made me wonder if it was the right decision to continue with our journey. There were birds on the trees, chirping, trying to mock me as I faltered about while walking in snow, and Jay did his best to calm me down.
He slowed down ensuring he was always a few steps away from me, trying to keep my fears at bay while he himself struggled through the snow. Those were the first signs, but Jay’s care towards me was evident in that trek to snowline, when he ensured that I completed the trek to a cafe buried in 15 ft of snow.
I stood there at snow line cafe, staring at peaks in front of me. They shone with valor, like soldiers braving cold winds, protecting us from an oncoming storm. I stared at Jay, who was standing by my side with a bowl of maggi in his hands, he was like one of those soldiers, protecting me.
All through our trek, I thought about moments when I was slipping in the snow, and Jay was around to ensure I was safe. I wondered whether these two guys, Nikhil and Jay, would save our project as well, if I slipped somewhere. Slowly, I was getting dependent on them, wondering if they too dreamt my dream, in the way I did. But another musical evening on our return made me leave my fears for another day.
In the coming days, we went to a few more places, exploring the region, performing at different locations and then one evening, we were jamming on our guest house’s roof.
It was then when we met those two French girls, accompanied by an Indian guy. They were musicians as well, who invited us for dinner with them, and plan was to jam over dinner.
While Jay played and garnered all the attention, I sat quietly in a corner, feeling jealous of him. I didn’t feel great, as I tried to make myself at ease, but every word of praise thrown at him made me even more uncomfortable. It was when the rift first appeared in my head, which kept increasing in the coming days.
While Nikhil and Jay enjoyed with our newly found friends that night, I felt irritated. And then, one of the French girls started singing in the most melodious voice I had ever heard while I was stepping out of the restaurant.
Her voice kept haunting me, as I walked through the forest on my way back listening to her sing from far away, while Jay’s guitar accompanied her voice, and my misery.
Chavvi and Pallavi departed soon after that; while Pallavi promised to see us soon, Chavvi was on the verge of breaking our door ’cause of some misunderstanding, as Nikhil finally snapped and I had to take matters in my hand, to ensure that she departed without any further troubles.
Midst all this, I received a message from Nivedita; an online friend from Mumbai, she was coming to Mcleodganj for a month.
And we never anticipated, how times were about to change with her arrival…