A 10 days of a Lifetime journey. While back home, I can now gather my nerves and come to this realization of living to tell the tale of a near survival and profound experiences that happen when you undertake the most difficult journey(or so they say) in a lifetime. A “Road-Trip” to Leh-Ladakh. Of all the journeys I have undertook, this was different. To understand nature's deep dark secret I knew we will have to travel far and wide , risking a lot more than just small things. At altitudes, where survival is difficult to imagine let alone making it. To the wild streams of water running everywhere and the unstoppable quest and curiosity of what comes next.
Every turn during the road trip from Manali to Leh ; brings you a new surprise. You may see snow covered mountains at one point whereas after just 10 kms these mountains turn into barren lands showing no signs of existence. “14” hours of driving time and it is as immersive as it gets. I am of course discounting the number of times I had threw up on my way. Rising altitude was directly proportional to deterioration of my health. Rare signs of oxygen makes you realize that there are major things in life , for which you haven't thanked the almighty enough. I mean who "learns" to breathe anyway, it just comes to us automatically and we never thanked him ever for providing us with the functionality to breathe. We just assume, we get it.
I can’t really say that I have really enjoyed the hills always, but this was Different. I might have fidgeted, taken breaks, checked messages and so on, but in the dead of the night, it was transcendental experience. The haunting imagery of another planet crosses your mind which is right on its way to collide with earth. Skies that point towards your imminent extinction but also made for mesmerizing views. You just look at them in a hope that they would draw even more closely and get you in touch with your dear ones.
We could spot “BRO”(Border roads organisation. What were you thinkin’ eh) signs all over, asking us to be safe and sound in every possible humorous ways so that they could capture our attention even while driving.
On our way to Pangong-tso lake (15500 ft, above sea-level), I looked out of the window for a moment (yes , there were only a few moments in which I was doing just fine) into the world of clouds & snow! For five minutes I was out there and could see army camps all over the place trying every possible move to keep these ranges of mountains tamed. The idea of taming these huge mountains was an uphill task and impossible to believe. Imagine them Doing it . I got a chance to introspect - prosper and appreciate . It kept me thinking that we as Indians haven't done enough to honour this talent. Strangely enough, we haven't even appreciated these warriors for their extraordinary contribution to our freedom and except for mouthing the usual platitudes twice a year, only because everyone else would be doing the same. Only two ceremonial occasions in an year, we might just give a thought about them and we believe we have done enough! Whereas we have hardly paid any attention to their agonies and wounds. For a nation that bellows of its efforts to seek independence at every corner, it is indeed a shame that we had let down our soldiers in their hours of distress.
I am not in favor of showering them with praises on every platform we have made it to, but the least we can do is help them, when they need it. Keeping an eye over how difficult their survival is, will surely get us moving. To me it did.
After three days of reaching back home safely, I can now say that my respect for a lot of things has grown even more than it was earlier. For now at least I am forewarned against the kind of whim-worship we do for our army , and abstain from indulging in our “own” lives for the moment. I couldn’t agree more to the idea by which I believe, keeps the people living here, going: “Life should be a celebration, if we were not here, we wouldn’t be”
|Pangong-Tso Lake (15,500 ft above sea level), Zukung, J & K|