Posts Tagged ‘Leh – Ladakh’

Hit The Road

Posted: August 20, 2019 in I Got Leh'd, Motion Picture
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Lonely Roads

Posted: July 22, 2019 in Motion Picture
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Quick tea with onion Pakoda

We were lucky when we were in Nubra Valley because we could be part of their Desert Festival

I had been accumulating my basket of leaves, and saving every possible penny from Swiggy and Zomato for a few months now,  with high hopes of spending them in the best possible way, among the mountains, in Nepal. Well, at least that was the plan, but you know what they say, Life’s what happens while you’re busy making other plans. This time, Nature had something else in store for me, the Nepal trek which I had been looking forward to for so long, had to be called off because of the bad weather conditions. Of course there’s rational way of looking at all these unexpected changes, but we are hardly ever rational when a holiday is cancelled, not even when it is concerned with being alive. I was no different, all I wanted to do was to dig up a hole, jump in it and to die of frustration and disappointment. One more day without a break in this corporate world and my brain would turn into one like Einstein, developing a new formula for Energy that has nothing to do with mass or whatever  the crap C stands for, Energy=wine*food*sleep I would have been proving this formula.

Of course, to my surprise I decided against digging up a hole, instead made a few phone calls, couple of online payments and with tons of assurance, I was in for my first solo trek. This wasn’t planned, was definitely not a holiday picturized with fancy clothes and straw hats, this was just me taking a chance at letting my soul be where it truly wants to be.

“Are you crazy SnL, why do you want to go on a solo trip at this age” Loly started questioning my decision.

“I will get married by this year and before that I want to do a solo trek”.

“What! You finally found a guy?”.

“Nooo”

“Then whom are you marrying?”

“Well, I don’t know, I just wanna do this solo trek”

No questions were asked then

With its rich culture, great big mountains, and the warm-hearted people, the place couldn’t be more perfect. I couldn’t wait to get there.  And, that’s how Leh-Ladhak happened and I am so glad it did.

I didn’t make big fuss this time(third time to be precise) about the changes in my leave plan, not after the last time, when I showed up in office, the actual day when my leave was about to begin. And my team members were like “What happened to your leave plan”, it is frustrating to have your plans cancelled and having to explain it to everybody else only adds to your misery.

On my ride to the airport, I was still reciting my rosary for my safety. “Do whatever you want to” the encouraging words from my mom gave me the well needed kick in my gut and I set off. Now, if you ask about my dad, Turrr, while I was on my solo adventure, he still thought or at least my loyal mom and sister made him think, his little daughter is in Bangalore working her ass off through the weekdays and  attending masses on Sunday. He is a bit strict and protective, and this can come across as boring, but I understand, he is just being a father. He almost caught me but mom handled it so smartly, I owe her a big time.

As I lifted my crazy -heavy rucksack I almost peed in my pants. With my trekking gear, clothes, wipes, snacks and more clothes, made me wonder if I was carrying a living human in there. I got my boarding pass without any annoying conversation; instead there were warm smiles from the ground staff.  I patted my back for bagging window seat. I don’t even remember my journey to Delhi, Leh was all I could think about. When I boarded the flight to Leh  and reached my seat with “excuse me please”, “sorry”, “let me pass”, and finally  “You are on my seat” . For which I got introduced to an old couple “Ok, meet my father and my mother” by a young Indian bloke (as if we were to get married soon and I was going to be their daughter in law) with astronaut headphones “we are travelling together, would you mind to exchange…” I cut him right then, eyes still glued to my seat with “Sorry, I need my window seat” I didn’t feel bad, I didn’t feel bad at all. I am sure when he goes to the toilet, he doesn’t take his dad or mom along. And yeah, he wasn’t 3, to have his Mom and Dad be sitting on his ether sides. I made my way to the well-earned window seat and buckled up for my trip to Leh, No one is going to take my window seat from me, not when I am on my solo trip.

The Indian bloke was showing some article on Leh to his mom from one side while his mom was busy surfing “Jockey stores in Leh” from other. Looks like either her son or husband, is going commando or wearing dirty underwear very soon.

When my eager eyes had the first glimpse of the magnificent mountains I almost jumped from my seat. Click, click, click I couldn’t stop, snow covered peaks, bare mountains, beautiful valleys, I knew right then I had chosen the right place. The butterflies in my stomach and the lingering second thoughts, everything just disappeared instantly.

When our flight landed it was drizzling, with the cool breeze all around, it was like being placed in cooler from boiling furnace of Bangalore. All my senses really seemed to be enjoying the pleasant weather. Sun couldn’t be bothered to rise high with all dark clouds surrounding him.

As I got out of the airport I had some difficulty in breathing and felt the effect of low oxygen levels in the region. Every step I took I felt like I was grasping for more air. Leh is at altitude of 3500 meters above sea level and, so one needs to be well acclimatized to get used to the weather. The silent, crazy headache was on its way and I was clueless. While I was waiting for baggage, people were rushing towards the oxygen can seller. “Nahh, I’d prefer the natural way” I told myself.

I picked my crazy rucksack and followed the cab driver “Jullay madam”, cab driver, the warm hearted Ladakhi guy wished me with a broad smile “You are from which place”, “Travelling alone”. “give me your bag, I will carry it for you” I answered all his questions following him to his taxi carrying my bag and still grasping for oxygen, little did I know I would be grasping for air till  my very last day there. I gave him my hostel address and thus begin my first day, a beautiful, adventurous day.

The roads were almost clean, everywhere you turn you could see the big beautiful mountains, and of course the smiles from the beautiful people of Leh, welcoming you to enjoy their hospitality, their home, their place.

Himalayan Bunker Hostel was almost similar to what was shown on their website. Garghi’s heart melting smile and make yourself home attitude was all I needed to lift my spirits up. “Have some ginger lemon tea for your headache and rest well today, you will be alright tomorrow” She assured me, but the throbbing headache was well on  its way.

When I walked into my 10-sleeper dorm, I was greeted by all good looking guys. Boy oh boy, can there be any other place called heaven! Exchanging the pleasantries, with a hand-shake I introduced myself to a few of them (I did that, so uncool of me), Kelvin, cute guy with curly eye lashes was from Netherlands, Dhruvin was from Gujrath and the full shaven guy with Hitler haircut, somehow I forgot to ask his name, that may be because I had already struck a conversation with Dhruvin about the local market and transport. Conversing with millennials is no easy task, your response doesn’t have to really be in so many words expressing you thoughts, just a “cool” will usually suffice.

I wasn’t tired in spite of getting up at 2. I grabbed, a  vacant lower bed and dumped my stuff just to imply its occupied. After freshening up I was all set to head towards the Leh Market with Dhruvin. We shared a taxi with two other girls, just for 10 Rs. each.

Mani(Prayer wheel)

Leh Market

The dirty shaggy dog

Once we were in the market Dhruvin started talking about his trip, how he and his friends couldn’t visit places together because of bad planning, but I could hardly focus on what he was saying, I was lost in the scenic view of the city and the warmth of its people. They don’t stare at you; they just greet you with the biggest possible smiles, those smiles they just light up your heart and you can’t help but feel lighter and happier.

Stupa

After giving some useful tips like where to catch the return bus and where I can find an ATM Dhruvin was on his way to explore the rest of the city, of course not before I assured him, more than 10 times that I will be alright and I will comfortably reach back to the hostel. I had captured the picture of the bust stop which was near to my hostel. When you travel solo you have to plan your days meticulously , down to every minute and try not to depend on anyone. My phone was already at work, busy capturing pictures for my blog, the moments to cherish in the future and worst case scenario to find my way back to my hostel

If not for the lurking headache, I had an awesome time, walking on the streets, looking at the vendors getting ready for the day, those tiny white particles flying high in the air, gazing at the mountains, shops, things, people, sleeping furry dogs, Manis(prayer wheels). I had my lunch in a small restaurant, the lady was so sweet, and she even gave me extra soup.

I headed back when my headache became severe. I showed my phone to the guy asked whether the minibus, their public transport will go to that place, he nodded saying yes and I hopped in. I sat next to a lady, showed her my phone and requested “Can you please let me know when this place comes” she smiled and assured me she would. My eyes were on high alert to find the Cheetahs standing majestically on a circle. When I saw it pass by my heart was in my mouth, I almost shouted and showed the passing Cheetahs to the lady, the lady called for the driver and stopped the bus. Thanking her I got down from the crowded bus. Wow, that was fun I thought.

Lying down on my bed, tossing and turning, sleep was far away, head throbbing with pain, I closed my eyes and laid there listening to music flowing from the next bunker bed, but nothing could soothe me. ”Will that bad headache continue tomorrow, reporting day of my trek” I didn’t want that. I was woken up as new faces walked in.

I met a solo biker from Bangalore who had been on the road from quite some time. I met some more, some good people who spoke about their journey, their bike rides, and their next destination. “Why the heck didn’t I do this before” I asked myself. Travelling and meeting stranger’s changes your perspective of life

It was getting darker when I went down to fill my water bottle. People were chilling out, playing cards, talking, planning next stop, the atmosphere was set for the place. I met Dhruvin , who was excited  about the places he visited with one of the hostel mates.  We decided to go for dinner and he invited his friend along.

Almost 6 feet tall, dressed casually, face covered in muffler, she looked at home and not from Switzerland. One of the solo travelers like me I thought. But as she started to talk about the places she had visited, countries she had been to, the gun point incident, the knife mark on her leg, I was dumbstruck. In other words, she is the most bad-ass woman I have ever bumped into and hell yeah, I was glad. Her humble attitude is what got my attention she had travelled to Sri Lanka-loves their coconut curry, Madagascar-swam with the shark, Tanzania, South Africa-where she was held at gun point , half of the Europe, Australia, and so many others, I couldn’t keep account of them all. She has already covered most of India and she loves it that’s the reason she keeps coming back, she says. Corporate lawyer by profession, she was working for big client who runs the banks in Switzerland, but as she realized her passion was in travelling the world, she quit her job to pursue this passion. With the love for travel and I must add the guts to travel the world on her own, she’s probably pursuing her passion in the best possible way. The way she narrated her struggle to reach where she is now, her 6 jobs while she was in college, her “Insecurities-I don’t give a damn” attitude, her family, her wild, free spirit, her encounters with the world’s top influential people(like Obama, Oprah..) I was engrossed in her stories, all the while wishing and praying, I will remember every single word. It was almost 1:00AM and I wasn’t ready to go to bed yet. She was still talking, and I wanted nothing but to listen to her. Other hostel residents were dancing on some hindi songs and chilling, I just couldn’t be bothered. Ladina was her name, glad I met such a great personality. Hope she remembers me like I remember her.

When I hit the bed that night it was 2.AM, except for the few farts from my fellow dorm-mates and few others who were still partying the atmosphere around was winding down for the night . The day couldn’t have been better I thought.

P.S:Thank you SH for editing and for your flowery words

              To Be Continued..