Monday, July 9, 2012

1 - Leh Diary - Three months before.....

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."*

One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I don not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it for ever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? it is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force -- Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother, July 1880

sometime in March 2012....

The phone call was not out-of-blue, but still got me rattled. Its one of those things which we like to talk but not dare to take a plunge, really. Under the mask of confidence & brevity, I used to talk about the desire to take the trip to Leh on a bike, knowing somewhere deep down that one way or the other, it will not happen. So the feelings when he asked me if he can book the tickets were all mixed
- Excitement
- Thrill
- Anxiety
- And above all Neophobia

We've been talking about taking this trip since last two years, and I had successfully (?) managed to skip two of the earlier trips - not biking excursions but treks in Himalayas because of one or the other reasons. I could not really think of any convincing reason this time around and asked him to book the tickets. 

Even at that time, somewhere in the back of mind there was a assurance that something will come-up (official trip, some one coming from abroad, etc) and I will be able to 'miss' the trip and be safe in my comfort zone. As the days passed by, and the day Zero nearing, I thought of hiding behind family reasons (Sapna-wife), but even she said that its just two weeks and she will be able to manage without me as she has done many times on my official trips in past. 

So there I was, without anything to hide behind. It got me thinking - I was never like this (or at-least that's how I always pictured myself): I was the one who supported the idea of spending a night in the Melghat jungles (Seemadoh), I walked over 60 kms in one night without any second though in the jungles of Chikhaldara, I cycled over 170 kms in a day (in Holland) with prior experience of max 25 km/day... where did it started to go wrong. Am I getting too old to experience adrenalin rush? Is becoming a father making me just too much cautious? Or I'm just getting used to my comfort zone and hiding behind these superficial intellectual reasons (probably true) !

It got me thinking. What will it be like to ride solo on Himalayan roads. How will I cope with the extreme hot & cold conditions at the same time.  What about the bikes. I've not rode more than 150 kms/day in my whole life and that too on good highways. What about the high altitude sickness. Questions, Questions and some more. It all made me nervous.

On the brighter side - I though of thrill the ride will be.I imagines the picturesque terrains**. I hear the sound of air moving through the mountains and water flowing down-hill. I'm quite young (relatively) and it will be  opportunity missed if I don't do it now. And its 'just' two weeks. Lets go for it !

* Journey of Magi - TS Eliot
**  To tell you the truth the reality was thousand times better than my imagination

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