It took me a bit of time to adjust to being in the little community of Thanedar of Himachal Pradesh, but yesterday felt like a turning point. I went on such a lovely trek in the countryside (to a Christian church in a neighbouring village), accompanied by some really nice guests who are currently staying at the lodge where I am volunteering (teaching photography). Funnily enough, although I was the guide, it was the guests that led the way and they also told me about the area and some of its customs. As a result I began to fall in love with the place – with its pleasant climate, nice landscape and gentle, friendly people – and to understand why people come back year after year, even from as far as Mumbai.
Actually, maybe the transition started on the previous evening’s solitary stroll, which culminated with a cup of milky chai in the village cafe. Here I photographed some of the local gentlemen and one friendly man chatted to me, in near fluent English, about the area and insisted on paying for my tea when I reluctantly had to leave. At that point I began to realise that the locals were a bit shy (especially compared to the people of Varanasi) but generally friendly and they didn’t mind chatting to me, or letting me take their photograph.
This notion was reinforced today when some lovely locals, including the lady pictured, quite happily posed for photographs.
So, I am now starting to enjoy the local village and countryside as much as I enjoy spending time at the lodge with the nice guests and staff. I just wish I wasn’t already nearly halfway through my stay here; if it grows on me any more I will be very sad to leave!