May 15-17, 2014
Solan, a town of about 100,000, eight hours north of Delhi, is tucked away in the Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Terrace farms abound and blooming jacarandas and bottlebrush trees line the narrow roads. We stopped at one of many dhabas lining the highway for a traditional lunch of dal, bread, and vegetable. The buttered naan was comforting, as always, and the gravy for the regional mushroom masala (Solan is “the mushroom city” of India) was near perfectly spiced. Later on that night, we tried some vegetable momos from a lahri that were quite underwhelming: bland and doughy. One would be hard-pressed to find livestock ranging more freely: cows lying outside of shops downtown, chickens clucking alongside pedestrian walks. Fresh fruit and vegetable stands are common as are small shops selling Coke, salty snacks, and sweets. The area remains largely agrarian; indeed, several participants mentioned being busy with the wheat harvest that is underway. Recent rainstorms may have caused crop damage not far from here.