After the excitement of finally being in the northern-most state of the country began to sink in on day one, day two is when our real adventure started! 4 days of riding to reach Ladakh, distances of 110 km, 183 km, 237 km and 210 km to be covered, and one hotel, one houseboat and one tent stay. Bikes, riding gears, helmets, rain gear, gloves, riding shoes; all the dressing up made us feel like soldiers, soldiers going on wars to conquer different mountains. In retrospect, we did, in fact, conquer them! That’s how we dressed up, and that’s how onlookers on the road made us feel. Waves from friendly locals, hi-fives from excited kids, looks of amusement from pedestrians and thumbs-up from fellow riders.
Ever been to Pakistan? I have. Well, if standing at a point in Jammu, where you are at the extreme end of the India-Pakistan border, to the extent that if you cross that line, you are most likely to be shot by one of the Pakistani militants counts, then I have. My recent, highly adventurous trip to Leh Ladakh started from the land of Jammu, a place with high security, very helpful army guys, slightly rude locals and a lot of sardars, which wasn’t surprising, of course!
Yeah I did not want to use the extremely overdone cliche of ‘Getting Leh’d’ so I went with this one. Anyway, this is where I am going to be spending the next 14 days, beginning tomorrow. The picture looks exciting? Yes, that’s how excited I am! No wait, I am way more excited than that and of course, absolutely cannot wait to get there!
What is travelling? Well, for some it is soaking yourself in the pureness of soft sand, as you enjoy a pint of Kingfisher beer with a platter of red chilly pork chops, while for some it is soaring tall heights, accomplishing one mountain after another with a backpack on your shoulders, which carries preserved food, some water and a sleeping bag. As a little child, a day out with your family, experimenting with the limits of the adventurer in you at a place like Essel World would be synonymous to accomplishing one of the exciting journeys of life. Similarly, as the gray strands of hair on your scalp start overpowering the shiny black ones which grew there once, a weekend with your son and grandchildren at his house down town would provide enough vacationing for you to be tucked in at home for at least month from then.
For a true traveler at heart, someone with a burning desire to explore new people and places everywhere he goes, a simple bus ride that lasts long enough to watch a streamed episode of Big Bang Theory is also travelling; a stroll in the park outside his house to compensate for the Double Meat Chicken Burger he just gorged on is also travelling; and a ride over the weekend with his roomie to stock up the house with groceries for the week, is also, as a matter of fact, travelling! In essence, travelling is any journey, which gives you an opportunity to have an encounter with a stranger, share a smile or a common emotion with a random individual walking on the road, have a personal conversation with a shopkeeper or just make someone’s day by a small act of kindness and affection.
It’s all about how you see it! You can be the one who gets through his daily bus ride by reading a chapter of Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel; however, you can also be the one who awes in the thought of how the simple manner in which the mother sitting across you holds her child, shows the depth of care and affection she has for him; you can be the one to sternly demand the shopkeeper to give you a packet of chips so that you can rush home and watch television while eating it, or the one who sympathetically waits and looks at the shopkeeper who has been working all day, just like you, and thanks him with a genuine smile for the Lay’s he gave you. What would it cost you? Just a twitch of few muscles with an obliged happy-to-help-you shopkeeper in return!
They say travelling costs money, to see the world and experience the fascination of going to new places and meeting new people, you need to have a huge bulk of money in your account, or perhaps, find someone else who does and would not mind taking you around. Well, if you have the right determination and a place for love in your heart, no financial block can stop you; then all you will need are two feet and those 17 muscles in your body that help you smile!