DAY 2 : Bhagsu
Where we we? Ah, slow moving death towards chronic heartbreak halted unceremoniously by a trip to the hills. Loosely translated, I was hiding in the hills avoiding an inevitable heart explosion that was waiting for me back home. And while hiding, I was eating my emotions. Literally
If you’re also looking to tap your inner escape artist, I suggest a weekend to your nearest hill station. You can read about my first day in Mcleodganj here. Its a great read about playing chicken with your destiny. Even if you’re vegetarian.
See everyone has their own recipe to deal with heartbreak. Like a hangover. Or a cold. Mine is to get fresh air (away from a carbs friendly weekend in the city) take in a lot of vitamin D (sunshine) and reaffirm my being by doing what I do best – eat.
So after spending 24 hours in the company of my three friends – appetizer, main course and dessert, I was on the road to a whole hearted recovery.
In the high literary words of EL James, my subconscious was doing a happy dance. And my next meal was going to be the hula skirt. (Yes you know these lines from the book. And yes, you’ve read the book)
I wake up to a sunny Sunday morning with a happy heart and a hungry stomach (mountain air can do wonders to both) Israeli friends from the previous day had invited me to Bhagsu for ‘the best museli ever’ Healthy and fresh sounded like a great Sunday morning headline and the trek to the village promised to earn me my meal.
But you don’t tempt fate, cause it wafts up to your nose in the form of fresh steamed momos that will distract you. This is the fault of Norling Cafe, one you’re likely to encounter up Jogiwara road. Damn.
Juicy succulent diet defying chicken steamed momos. Pre Breakfast porn
My last trip to Bhagsu was 5 years ago. To be honest, even then Bhagsu was on my ‘give it a pass’ list. Too narrow, too many overhead cables, too many tourists, far too many fakes. I had no idea the surprise I was in for.
The path to ‘world’s best museli’ was paved with a million steps. All uphill. Tucked away in a corner. A far corner. One that was way up a hill. Alright I can’t stress enough on how many stairs I has to climb. Po the Panda’s famous words come to mind “Ah…my old enemy…Stairs!” (Ok these weren’t that high up, but somehow I feel the need to explain my terrible stamina)
Sansu is every bit run of the mill. High up hilly view, lounging patrons who’ve probably been there since yesterday, family run guesthouse attached..everything seemed….ordinary.
Until, ofcourse the museli arrives. Which wasn’t normal. It was a small bowl that could fit an entire universe of food. God promise.
Oats, fruits, dessicated coconut and a host of nuts piled up on what looks like a mini mountain.
What is it about food that nourishes the soul? While I champion the cause of pancakes laden with butter bacon and syrup to be the perfect blues chaser, I am surprised the effect this big bowl has on me. Happy healthy bliss.
Here’s a secret I discovered to forget your own mind : Spend it in the company of strangers. You know cause there’s never a lull in conversation for your mind to trap you into thinking of your aching heart. Sit back and enjoy the newness of the banter.
I spend the next few hours enjoying honey lemon ginger tea, watching the clouds roll in as more people joined our table. Bhagsu was still very narrow, the cables overhead had dramatically increased but in all the din, it was calmer and a million miles away from the mess that is McLeodganj. There was peace. The kind I’d come looking for.
And then suddenly, someone yelled ‘Bhagsu cake’ which meant a mad scramble for more dessert. That brings us to ‘Singh’s corner’ who claim to be the original Bhagsu cake inventors. It looks like a tray bake with a crusty (possibly cookie) base topped with what tasted like a version of dulce de leche and a final layer of chocolate.
I urge you to trust your instinct and the man taking your order and go for as many Bhagsu cake combinations as possible – peanut butter, white & dark chocolate, Hail to the King & Hail to the Queen. We went bananas. Literally.
I run back to catch my bus (sugar rush + late for a bus = Indian Flash Gordon) clearing my mind on the way. Lets talk conclusions, shall we? About love, life and the role of dessert in forging relationships:
– Friends can be found anywhere and everywhere. Never hesitate to turn your chair around and start talking. Cake makes for the best ice breaker and eating together creates the strongest bonds. Isn’t that what we do with family? Got you thinking…?
– Traveling with an open mind is tricky. You arrive with expectations of what a place is or should be. Rarely will you be satiated. That kind of pressure will kill your vacation. Try the more cliched approach – Go with the flow.
– Has the place really changed or have I?
– Heartbreaks are messy, so are popular tourist destinations in India. Both are disappointing, unsightly and cliched. Too much can cause mental, physical and ecological damage. But I have faith that someday, not too far in the future, we will find a way to preserve and even celebrate the character of such places, responsibly and lovingly. Just the way I have faith that someday, not too far in the future, my heart will (in Celine Dion’s words) go on…
I believe one must end a journey with something sweet, as a universal thanks for a safe and happy stay. I manage to stop by the Crepe Pancake Hut for my happy ending pancakes. Fresh, homemade and so comforting. I fully recommend the pancakes with apricot sauce for a sweet goodbye
So here we are, at the end of my journey. Wiser, calmer and lot less heartbroken. And if there’s only one piece of advise I can leave you is this:
Heartbreaks come and go. Pancakes are forever.
(All Images by Ishita Thakur)