To do that ... I happen to write!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Leh Laddakh: Heaven truly is a little high! Part 2

"The core of a man's spirit comes from new experiences"
- Into the Wild, Christopher McCandless

"Be gentle on my curves"
- One of several funny road-signs laid out by Himank, Border Road Organization, India
        We all were sitting inside the car; combined heat of 6 people working with the car blower to keep us protected from the thick cover of snow on the outside. A mild dizziness was spreading in our heads - the 5300m high Himalayan pass - Tanglang la making its presence felt. We were going around foggy turns, when suddenly the car stopped with a jerk. As we lowered our windows, grizzling sound of several trucks came for the outside. We were stuck in a deadlock - the path was not wide enough for even one vehicle to pass by, and the queue of trucks was long at the other end. Left with no other choice, our driver drove us desperately into the thick cover of snow to make way. The trucks slowly went past, their engine grumbling like a cocky old man...
    ...As their voice faded into distance, we tried to hit the road again which was when our fate slapped us. The tires obstinately refused to grip on the thick ice, beginning to endlessly skid, while the soot from the exhaust pipe started to gather on the snow. Four of us got out. We first pushed from back. Nothing. Then from front. Nothing: the car just wouldn't budge. And here's the thing about being at a height of 5300m (Delhi is at 300m, Mumbai at 0 m) - air density goes for a toss, literally, and thus pushing a car out of snow might leave your lungs screaming in madness that they are not spartan. Eventually, we picked up a few large stones to dig and clear the snow around the tyres - one final push and the car jolted forward.
         "It was awesome man", we said to each other getting in the car. After a while meek muffled sounds came about, all resonating:  "May I have a Disprin please?"

Friday, 9 September 2011

Leh Laddakh: Heaven truly is a little high! Part 1

"People who fly to Laddakh are morons!!!"
        - a conversation on Manali Leh highway

Juley Laddakh!

Frankly, what do you want me to do - Inspire you to go to Laddakh! Oh, come-on - if you're such blinded morons to be in want for any proof about its beauty, need inspiration, cajoling, push, or things like motivation to go there - scram - you're beyond help and you have earned my ire :P

You're spared if you're not an Indian, have never visited India, have never read keenly about it and are not planning to visit it sometime in near future. In that case - let me first introduce Laddakh to you:

Laddakh is a far flung cold desert on the northern most territories of India and is a part of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), often referred to as 'paradise on earth' in befitting description to its breathtaking beauty. J&K's past, after the independence of India in 1947, marred with long history of terrorist activities by Pakistani insurgents has never effected Laddakh. However, there is a heavy presence of Indian Army in entire Laddakh region primarily because it shares its border with Tibet on the east and Pakistan on the west.
     In fact, it is the presence of Indian Army has led to creation and maintenance of strategically important and the only 2 roads leading to this region and metalling of several dizzily high passes to help us travel around. This has led to opening up of this enchanting part of the country for tourism. However, the altitude and terrain is so difficult, as you will see, that Laddakh continues to be entirely secluded except for the major touristy places. That too has below 20-30 people at any given time. Travel months are only from July to around October; and the entire region goes for hibernation during winter months with temperatures plummeting below -35 degrees C. My next aim, in fact, is to go there in winters and hopefully tread on the then frozen Zanskar river! But that's for later...

So now that you know of Laddakh, let me do my bit to encourage you:

"Go to Laddakh!"; or a tardy bit more pompous

"The lowest there (some 3500m) might be the highest you've ever been to"

That's the best I can say. Try asking me for any more reasons, and I'll answer with 19th century British air, "No, sir, no! Spare me the dishonor."

But let me tell you what I am going to do...I am going to show-off. Yes, as outraged as you might be right now, you've heard me right. And never mind your outrage on me, for soon you might be outraged on yourself for not having gone there thus far!

Here I begin:

Part 2 - here