It was my second time at the weird but wonderful Chandigarh Rock Garden. It’s like being lost in a wonderland, it must be seen to be believed. I enjoy it far more than the overrated Taj Mahal.

Nek Chand Saini began collecting materials from demolition sites around the city in 1957. He began constructing his maze of rock art and waterfalls on Government conservation land undisturbed for 18 years until the Government finally caught him. By that time the Rock Garden was already a work of art.

After getting the public on his side, the Government gave him a job and 50 labours to keep working on this unique public space. Now, it’s one of the most visited, and memorable, places in India.

Now it starts getting strange

Swings, Chandigarh Rock Garden. Photo © Karl Rock.
Swings, Chandigarh Rock Garden. Photo © Karl Rock.

So there I was, sitting next to the massive swings Saini built letting the sunlight warm me up on a cold December day. When one of the weirdest things happened to me

Two guys in their 20s came up to me and the one in the brown jacket and slicked back hair shows me his phone.

Meeting my friends from Kashmir for a second time. Photo © Karl Rock.
Photo © Karl Rock.

On his phone is a photo of me! It’s a scene I remember. But why does he have a photo of me on his phone?

The photo on his phone. Photo © Karl Rock.
The photo on his phone. Photo © Karl Rock.

My friend had totalled his bike on a piece of slippery road on our ride to Srinagar, Kashmir, so he was travelling separately on a bus to Jammu. The bus went the correct way to Jammu, and I went the wrong way. First I ended up riding 50 km to the end of a beautiful road.

Then I took another wrong turn and ended up taking the unused centuries-old route from Srinagar to Jammu! That added an extra 8 hours of riding with nobody around and no petrol stations to fill up at. At one point I was sure I was going to run out of petrol.

After hours of riding, I decided to stop in the middle of nowhere for a drink. The shopkeepers were surprised to see a foreigner riding in the area. I walked into this store and bought a Limca (Indian lemonade like 7-up) for the energy to keep riding. The shop owner, his friends, and a local cop were all sitting and relaxing outside the store.

We chatted and before I left they asked me for a photo. It was that photo the guy at the Rock Garden’s was showing me. He’d taken the picture for them on his phone. He was a relative of the shop owner and from that remote area of Kashmir. And now we’d crossed paths a second time!

My mind was blown after I realised he was the guy I met in some remote part of Kashmir. What are the chances?

Me and some locals in Kashmir. Photo © Karl Rock, all rights reserved.
My photo from my camera that the guy in the brown jacket took for me. Photo © Karl Rock.

It’s happened before too

This isn’t the first time I’ve had deja vu in India though. I once went to the Anandpur Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) on the border of Himichal Pradesh and Punjab. It’s a very small but famous place for Sikhs.

I returned back to Delhi, and a random shopkeeper in the area I was living asked me, “Were you in Anandpur last weekend?” It turned out he’d also visited the same day as me and seen me there. What are the chances?

Even in a country of a billion people, the world is not so big.

One Comment

  1. Not a lot of Westerners on bikes, I bet. My brother was on a crowded subway platform in Tokyo. He’s quite tall and he suddenly heard his named being yelled out from way down the other end of the platform. Turns out it was a Japanese person he knew from Sydney.

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