Saturday, July 31, 2010

Loss of pay and gains of Leh...


Where real life meets fantasy...Pangong lake...


A stick, a wall, and the blue-white skies...Thiksey Gompa...

A little under a month of arbitrary travel. A bunch of random strangers. Many chais were had and many cakes bitten into with some...Some others were like yellow/black sign boards on a road trip...The interactions could pass for a glance, but the brevity doesn't imply insignificance...

'Lost' Israeli ex-soldiers trying to 'find themselves' in the by lanes of Ladakh. Over clouds of smoke from happy cigarrettes constantly being rolled and smoked away. They'd describe to you the beauty and the mysticism of Varanasi one moment, and negotiate hard to bring down the room rent at Pangong lake from Rs 2200 to Rs 300 the next...

A Norwegian vegetarian Budhist, who, i suspect, loves women at least 42 times as much as Budha. Eloquent and insightful talks on meditation and happiness juxtaposed with extreme reluctance to step on puddles of harmless rain water. Goofy, fun, a joke, a Tibetan tale or an absolutely inappropriate remark up his sleeve all the time, most of our laughter on most evenings at Leh could be attributed to him.

A wannabe writer from Delhi on a year's break, the one who brought our Leh hang out crowd together. She could befriend wooden furniture, given time. I gave her a ride from Shankar to Leh market and ended up moving to the guest house she was staying in. And ended up being surrounded by people every evening, talking more and reading less, something that doesn't usually happen in my solo trips.

A quiet mallu sound engineer from Delhi whose only claim to malludom would be his last name. Affable, sharp, and a clear non-chalance about travel, with as much interest in Nubra Valley as in the corner store selling Apricot jam made by Ladakhi women.

A chennaiite from Bangalore who quit tech 4 months ago and plans to set up a natural farm possibly at Mayiladuthurai. A vegan by choice cos he thinks it is unfair for humans to milk cows, but will drink a cup of namkeen butter chai if a family offers it with love, just to be nice. A champion of home-schooling, we managed to have opposing views on quite a few things over a single breakfast. Opposing in a healthy tolerant manner...

The lady who gave me a bowl of water and the old man who gave me a piece of cloth to wet and dab my eyes with. Their neighbor who made me lie down and put eye drops for me. On the day of blindness of the left eye at Rumtse. Temporary blindness resulting from some random insect toxin cos of the helmetless, goggleless motorcycle ride from Manali to Leh. There was something very comforting about their instinctive helpfulness that kept me from freaking out, despite the inability to distinguish between a yak and a plastic chair 4 feet away for a full 17 hours, and i was quite touched by their concern for a random stranger-traveler.

There were a host of other random folks. Folks i left with a 'seeya' and a 'have a good life' instead of a mail id and a 'let's stay in touch'. Like the 'dude' from Delhi who reacted like i lived in a hole some 4000 feet below the ground when i told him i was from Chennai. I did tell him we had roads, electricity and water supply back home. But then what's a journey without minor annoyances.

So there were people...And there were places too...

First ever glimpse of the Taj. Heavenly lassi off a mutka at Gokul in Mathura, a place that seemed totally caught in a time warp. Two days in Delhi without being conned (yay!). Amazement at the orderliness (and expensiveness) of Chandigarh. A proper dip in the super hot waters of Vasisht in Manali finally (after 2 failed attempts in 2002 and 2003). Motorcycle ride from Manali to Leh, the most stunning of rides. A ride that made me an Enfield convert. Prayer flags, ginger teas, gompas, random new friends, and plain lazing in Ladakh. Chai by the Indus followed by rafting down it, jumping in and floating around a bit, for my 32nd. Pangong lake with 3 israelis who gave me answers for why they smoke all the weed they smoke. Bumping into a blog friend at Khardungla followed by a bumpy roll down from Khardungla to Leh on a bicycle. Drive by Kargil and a 4 hour break at Drass cos the border police wouldn't let us pass. 4 tourists, 400 policemen and a whole lot of floating grass at Dal lake. History lessons at Balidan stambh in Jammu and then the long journey back home...

A year's worth of moments in a little under a month. And now i am actually ready to write some code and earn some bread...

13 comments:

june said...

Ever since you left for Leh, I've been waiting for this travelogue! :D

What an absolutely awesome trip it must have been. I need details :-)

Oh! How's the left eye now?

M... said...

Dude you are back already?! That sucks man...Having decided to take a break you shuda taken the summer off and spent more time in Ladakh. Anyway, lets catch up live sometime soon. Are you in BLR anytime soon? I am in chennai for a day next weekend.

Parth said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time, going by the breadth and details in the post. Welcome back.

Balaji Shankar said...

Envy man..envy :) Thanks for the wonderful travelogue. Made me feeel as if I was experiencing it in first person. Did u capture any pictures? If yes please do post it...that would take the travelogue to whole another dimension.

Saya said...

Wow. Makes me wanna go on a trip right away. Well chronicled.

Vidya said...

You seem like you've met many interesting people, experienced many wonderful things... :)

frissko said...

June - Left eye is as good as the right eye now. And this is a vetti response since we've spoken since...

M - Thought about it and decided against it...Maybe the next break would be a little longer...Will call...

Parth - Yep, it was an awesome trip...Just wrote the abridged version here to save you guys yarns of inconsequential data :)...

Balaji - Yea did take pics...will post them on FB sometime...

Saya - Thanks, and welcome to this part of town...

Vidya - Absolutely...If only i had your eye for pictures :)...There's so much of a gap between what my eyes saw and what my camera managed to capture...(and no, i am not just saying it)...

Vidya said...

I think your pictures are lovely! You captured it with your heart, and I can see that many wonderful memories are attached to them. Sometimes, that's exactly what you need - not any sort of technical expertise (which I certainly don't possess!) :)

shub50 said...

There is such gratitude and appreciation in your writing frissko...This trip sounds like just what your heart needed. wishing you many many more like this...

RagzZmatazZ said...

Wow, How I wish to be footloose !! Some day.. some day... please keep sharing until then ;D

Pam said...

Wowie! how I wish I could do all this.. keep going! so where are you now? mail me your pics Av..

Trauma Queen said...

"A ride that made me an Enfield convert."

so does that mean you own a bullet now? nice! someday I shall ride a bullet, even if I look like minnie mouse on it I will still ride it!

gwl said...

Good one.........
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