May 23 2016
After two years I visited India, and just after 3 days I was all packed to leave home for my hiking expedition in Ladak. And as always my mother din’t complain, and saw me off telling “have food in time” like she always did. My friend Sindhu picked me up from sister’s place (this girl rides a Avenger bike and is a very passionate biker) and we reached the airport in one hour with lot of conversations on the way (yes, in India you’ll find people talking with their pillion on road). Achyut, Madhuri , Lucky and Manasa had left to Ladak two days earlier so I was to travel alone to Ladak which I was looking forward to. Lot of time for myself 🙂
I spent most of the time writing my journal in the flight to Delhi from Bangalore. And then a long lay-off from 12:00am to 6:00am in the morning, before I boarded the flight to Ladak from Delhi. Walking around this airport felt like being in the domestic terminals of O’hare airport in Chicago. It was huge. While I waited here, I met this person who had just landed in India for the first time straight from Netherlands. His name was Daniel and he had just began his six months long world trip. A software engineer by profession, Daniel had just quit his job for he felt that he was wasting his days being stuck within the cubicle working 5 days a week (that’s exactly what he said). He said he wanted to experience the culture around the world and that India was a perfect place to start from. His plan was to stay in Ladak for a month living a nomadic life and then travel to other different places within the country except for the big cities and then head to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and other Island around before heading back to his country. It was around 5:00am in the morning when I spoke with him, and having just started my own trip, I was already excited of all the interesting people like Daniel I might get acquainted in the coming days, which I always look forward to.
The flight to Ladak was only for 45 minutes and the view below was just overwhelming. I was so happy.
I took a taxi to this hotel that guys had already booked and checked in. Lucky, Madhuri, Achyut and Manasa had gone on a bike trip and were not to return until late evening. Not having completely recovered from the jet lag after the long flight from US, I took a solid nap hoping I would get to see guys when I wake up. It had been 2 years since the last time I met Madhuri and looked forward to meeting her and Lucky.
After guys arrived, it was my turn to get acclimatized to the place. With all curiosity I set out into the town with my camera and a map which Achyut gave me. Leh is a small desert plateau at an altitude of 10000 feet in Jammu & Kashmir state and the people here mostly follow Tibetan Buddhism. The common language spoken is called Ladaki, which is also a Tibetan Language. While people here are engaged in agriculture growing barley and wheat when the weather allowed, tourism is still one of the biggest source of income in the region. Lots of backpackers from around the globe visit the place, stay back for an extended period of time to experience the culture, enjoy local food, go on hiking, bike trips and enjoy the mountains.
As I walked through the streets, first thing I realized was that the air around was very dusty. I mean the place is a desert. What can you expect? First thing I did was to get a face mask. And then I went walking into the market place, and other random streets. Later I tried using the map to reach this temple called Shanti Stupa, which guys suggested me to visit, but screw it. I completely messed up thanks to this map I had, which guys later told me that the map was not trust worthy, for some of the streets which the map indicates don exactly exist and there’re many more which the map doesn’t even show. So I got lost and it was difficult to spot people in the streets here to ask for direction. Thank fully I came across this granny who looked super old who din just give me the direction but also walked along with me for some distance. She led the way very slowly through these remote and extremely narrow paths in the dark. On the way she told me about lot of stuffs in Ladaki language and laughed, but I couldn’t comprehend a thing. And after sometime when we walked out of the narrow pathway she pointed her finger towards a small hill on top of which was the temple, Shanti Stupa. I showed her the camera as a gesture to ask if I could click a snap of her and she smiled 🙂
(all of these snaps where clicked late in the evening when the light was dull)
So in the dark, all alone, I walked uphill to the temple and from nowhere a bright shooting star appeared in the sky, and put a big smile on my face. After visiting the temple I got down the hill from the other side and with some help found my way back home.
When I reached the hotel and told guys about the map and how much it helped me in getting lost, we all laughed. That day when I slept I told myself that the long walk I did for almost 4 hours, after having misguided by the map and getting lost, everything actually happened so that I could meet the old granny and see the shooting star 🙂
Any journey in our life being good or bad completely depends on the perception we look at it with.