Part 1. Juley ! ( or How It All Began )

It's taken me three months to get down to this. Over the next few posts, I'm going to try to document the trials and tribulations that I went through over the months to embark on the trip of a that two lifetimes.

It all started sometime in the early days of January 2007 when I got a bug into my head that I need to get off my behind and do some travelling. And so, a few weeks later I found out that Suchitra and company were in the initial stages of planning a trip to Ladakh in July.

The first draft of the itenerary provided by Lacchi promised a punishing 12 day schedule

Day 1 - Bangalore - Delhi - Leh
Day 2 - Leh and surrounds; acclimatisation
Day 3 - Acclimatisation redux
Day 4 - Jeep ride to Spituk
Day 5 - Lamayuru to Wanla ( via Prinkti La )
Day 6 - Wanla to Urshi
Day 7 - Urshi to Tarla Tar
Day 8 - Tarla Tar to Mang Gyu
Day 9 - Mang Gyu to Gera to Alchi
Day 10 - Alchi to Basgo to Likir to Leh
Day 11- Pangong Lake by jeep
Day 12 - Leh - Delhi - Bangalore

I first came across this on the 13th of February and I instantly fell in love with the plan. All that remained was that I had to pull together the guts to spend 7 days in the boondocks. Then I asked myself " If not now, then when" and that did it. I was sold, come what may, I was going through with this. I convinced Suchitra that I wanted a piece of the action and got along headlong into the planning , thinking and preparation ( oh really !?!?)

By the end of February we had the initial costs and the itenerary laid out, the dates decided ( July 13th to 27th ) , begged our managers to graciously grant us leave and mentally psyched ourselves.

March comes along and Prashant jumps in too. The first change to the itenerary starts with us deciding to travel on road to Leh from Delhi via Manali. The reason is twofold - Its a scenic drive and it helps acclimatisation. But then as we would discover later on, the drive can literally break your back, and the acclimatisation doesnt really help at all.

The troop list reads as follows :
Suchi ( Special mention - Who brought this together!!)
Lacchi ( Who kept us alive the whole trip and arranged all the details !!!)
and yours truly

One of the major challenges we faced was that quite a few of us didnt know each other and we definitely needed intro sessions and bonding activities so that we gel well as a group and have fun on the trip. There were many abortive attempts to meet on saturdays and given the size of the group it was near impossible getting everyone together at the same time.

One of the activities was a night trek to Skandagiri a.k.a Karavarahalli betta which was also supposed to be a conditioning camp. More about this in a later post, though. The group did not make it together here, too

A few weeks later, Rajesh had a brainwave ... "Why don't we all meet at Cubbon Park on Saturday at 730 am". When I read this email, my eyes literally rolled up and I shuddered at the thought of losing sleep on a Saturday morning. Needless to say, I didnt wake up. Suchi calls me up that morning and gives me a cheery "Hey pal, where are you".. I vaguely remember muttering something rude and smothering my face in my pillow. An hour or so later, I pull myself into Prashants car and doze on the way. This was it. The first meeting of the Leh gang.

But alas I'm too late, I get to meet Pawan, Rajesh and Suma. The dosa and the khara bhat more than made up for the lost sleep.

One fine Saturday morning, we go to Java City where I meet Lacchi and I ask all my questions, clarigy my doubts and come out a bit preplexed. Lacchi is a really experienced chap and manages to make quite a few long treks every year. It really helps to work for the government and manage so many holidays. Lacchi is a hardcore trekker a man of many talents ( he's a good photographer) and has had quite a few accomplishments, the most memorable one to my mind are his experiences while going to Everest Base camp.

Our final pre-departure itenerary for the trek can be downloaded at this link

Lacchi makes a list of recommendations and we start creating lists of things we'd need to purchase and I diligently make notes, which I promptly forget at the cafe. So then I go around asking people for their notes and start building mine up from scratch.

The days roll by and July comes along and the tension is palpable in the air with our flights just around the corner. We start exchanging check lists, print out phone numbers, go on shopping expeditions to Metro ( a Wal-Mart style place) to buy track suits, shoes, chocolates, sun block, shampoo, mountain money ( a.k.a toilet paper), wet tissues and lots of other things that will later be brought back intact to Bangalore.

We pick up our 40 L rucksacks from Lacchi and I decide to use my 30L bag that I bought from Philly in 2005 and pack light. We cross check our lists once again and in the meanwhile, tying up things at work so that our absence is barely noticed.

As the week of July 13th draws to an end, I have absolutely no enthusiasm to get anything done. Everything seems lighter, everybody are happier, there is lesser traffic on the road and all is well with the world.

July 13th : I wake up knowing that by the end of the day, I'll be in a different city starting one of the best adventures of my life. That day I can barely eat anything and I have a perpetual smile on my face. around 230, I set my out of office reply. and I'm away.

Back home, I take quick shower and recheck my bags and in the pouring rain, get to Prashant's house and onward to the airport where
an adventure awaits....

Trampled byY Trip at Friday, October 26, 2007 1 comments Links to this post

Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me

Sometimes the light's all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been
I dont claim to be an articulate writer , a prolific one or even a particulary funny one. This blog is a statement of the facts as I've seen them in my various travels, journeys and vacations. After all perception is reality. And this is my reality. So welcome. Have a strange trip. May it be as weird for you as it has been for me

Trampled byY Trip at Thursday, October 25, 2007 2 comments Links to this post