Saturday, May 13, 2017

the leh packing list

one thing that i left out from my earlier blog posts that's pretty important for a leh trip is the packing list. no matter what itinerary you choose, what you pack makes a big difference to how you enjoy your trip. obviously packing light means packing smart, and adverse terrain/sparse civilization means you have to be prepared for emergencies. my first leh trip (by car) only needed warm clothing, and I had a whole haversack to fill with it. and my first bike trip, I skipped important stuff like first aid, spares, etc... but was lucky. and i had a whole pair of saddle bags to myself as well. the 3rd time around, I had to share the saddle bags with my pillion! so for that trip, we figured the best possible packing list. by popular demand, here goes:

personal items:
1 tight fitting warm sweater (to be worn under t-shirt)
1 sweat shirt
2 pairs woolen socks
1 pair warm gloves (pillions only) OR biking gloves (compulsory for riders) + thermal gloves
4 pairs disposable surgical gloves OR 1 pair chemical hazard gloves - chemical hazard gloves seem to be better as surgical gloves get sweaty!
polarized sunglasses 
transparent riding glasses
gumbooots OR galoshes (I personally was very uncomfortable in gum boots, but haven't got my hands on galoshes. ended up riding with wet feet. galoshes would have been a lifesaver!)
hand warmers (optional, pillions only) - we didn't end up using these though.
raincoat or windcheater that can be worn over biking jacket - we didn't end up using these.
1 - 2 jeans + (optional) Thermal Pants - I only used 1 pair of jeans and no thermals, it served me just fine.
4 - 6 cotton tees 
6 - 8 sets underwear 
1 helmet
1 biking jacket OR armor + canvas/denim jacket
1 set knee guards
1 - 2 shorts/light casual wear
1 - 2 sets of clothes to sleep in
1 towel (carry a thin, light towel - it should dry fast and pack small) - I used the travel towel from decathlon, smallest size. we only showered thrice on the entire trip, lol
1 pair slippers/sandals
toiletry kit (brush + paste + bath soap + soap strips + hand sanitizer, toilet paper, the absolute essentials only!) - I shared the paste and sanitizer with my pillion
personal medicines, nasal spray or vicks inhaler
emergency blanket - didn't use this
water bottle/hydration pack
torch + batteries 
mobile + charger
camera, charger + cable + spare memory card
portable battery pack
10 passport size photo 
photo id (pan or aadhar card) + 10 copies (split among other riders)
ziploc bags for all electronics, cash, documents 
plastic bags for all clothes that will be packed (not for riding gear etc)
small folding bag for carrying stuff around (leh is a plastic free zone)
debit cards, cash (20k - everything operates on cash here!), 1 credit card
train tickets printed copy
paper with emergency contact details, and contact details + bike numbers of everyone in the group

for the riders:
driving license, bike papers (check validity of puc+insurance) + 10 copies (split copies among other riders)
spares: 2 chain links, 3 fuses (high current rating), front brake pads, 1 spark plug, front and rear tube (unless tubeless), accelerator and clutch wire
3 - 4 bungee cords
nylon rope + nylon cord
rags for wiping/cleaning stuff
Jerry can

common stuff (coordinate and get only one):
toolkit with sizes that work on all the bikes
duct tape
electrical wire 
5 X wire stoppers ("makkhi")
scissors, wire cutter, pliers 
siphon tube
4 X fevikwik/fevibond 
first aid kit (band aid, disinfectant, soframycin, sticky bandage, gauze, crepe bandage, muscle relaxant, splint, diamox, aspirin, paracetamol, imodium, antacid, ORS) 
multiplug/extension box
thick needle + nylon thread
sunscreen, insect repellant
WAI- WAI packets (two meals food supplies for emergency), dry fruits, cheese, chocolates
paraffin stove + pot + spoon + knife
2 swiss army knives
Rum (pack in pepsi bottle to save weight)

Friday, March 17, 2017


our purpose in life is to be what we want to be
- kris, one afternoon, at work

Friday, March 03, 2017

taking over the world

we're in the future, sometime when interplanetary (if not interstellar) travel is commonplace, and humans are settled in multiple land and space based colonies. a leader with a fanatical pseudo-religious bent of mind has been taking over colonies through a propaganda war, promises of prosperity, etc. he is now poised to be the leader of the largest conglomeration of colonies and seems unstoppable. a lot of people hate his propaganda and policies, and feel that his promises are merely a fascist ploy to become the most powerful leader of human civilization. they, myself included, feel helpless and outnumbered. our friends and families are gradually being influenced by the propaganda and are switching sides.

someone on chat tells me that he/she knows a few others who are equally frustrated, and there is a plan on how to combat this leader. for security reasons, identities will be revealed to me strictly on a "need to know" basis, and i will have to shift to a neutral colony. I am given games to play on my pc, which are actually simulators for various combat craft and vehicles.

soon, we are waging an all-out war against the leader and we have to fight against the forces of the very colonies we are from. during the course of our battles, I meet friends from college, all of whom loved to play FPS/combat games back in the day. all of them seem to have the same story, of being contacted and instructed by chat, although each of their "handlers" are different. we even fly a few missions together. our handlers seem to know that we know each other and start grouping us into a team, more often than not.

we realized that other people are also forming teams based on people they know from their past. our teams start getting bigger and bigger, and soon it seems like majority of the people I've known throughout my life are now part of the "force". someone I randomly bump into after years, on one of my breaks, is suddenly on the next sortie with me. and everybody is being recruited and directed on chat, by different users.

somehow, the leader's forces don't seem to fight too well, and there weren't any casualties on either side - everywhere we went, they would retreat after a half hearted battle.

I got to know that although the "force" was in control of over half of human civilization, it had completely fallen out of favour with public opinion due to its use of (for lack of a better word!) force.

one day, everyone was instructed that they would be reassigned, and we're given daily sessions of retraining. I was trained to be a livestock handler. most of my friends were reassigned before we could meet again, and I was back to being with unknown people. the gossip doing the rounds was that all the chat accounts are actually bots, controlled by a single AI, and as it improved its understanding of humans as a race and of each of us, it was tweaking its strategies.

the gossip was that there was a plan to take over the supplies of vital items in colonies which were not yet under control of the force. I grew my first batch of livestock. they were some strange creatures that grew in melon sized eggs. my instructions were that they were designed to be eaten immediately after they hatched, and my job was to make them as tasty as possible.

by the time the first batch hatched, I was alone in the facility in the middle of some planet's desert. scores of them hatched that night, lining the shelves of the facility. they were pink and bulbous creatures that could barely crawl, and squeaked and purred a lot. the next morning, I couldn't bring myself to kill them, let alone cook and eat them.

and that's when I woke up.

ps: this dream had a lot of images from Sci fi movies, a few games, and faces of a lot of college friends. fun times!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

we got married

I know, the announcement is almost two months late. blame that on the awesomeness of the honeymoon and married life.
but yes, it happened. the planning and anticipation that built up over the better part of 2016, culminated in a crazy 36 hour marathon of awesomeness.
and at the end of it, two people emerged as one.
getting married was awesome. to me, it felt like that was the day nothing could go wrong. we were the king and queen of our universe. and when we went home together for the first time, our respective worlds joined into one. we were no longer lovers who met when we could - we were one shared existence, that branched apart only when we had to.
the run-up to the big day was crazy. no matter how carefully I tried to eliminate stress and loose ends, it was inevitable. at one point I found myself wishing I could fast forward to life after marriage. but I'm glad wishes were not horses... because we would have missed one of the most beautiful days of our lives.
and we have realized that the pre-wedding craziness was only a prelude to post-wedding craziness. yes, it only gets crazier and crazier, until you forget what single life was like, and start concentrating on more pressing matters like getting enough sleep, being nutritiously well fed, and basically not flaking out.
and so, here we are, happily married, without even the slightest doubt that despite its unsolved problems, life ahead is better than the life we left behind. looking back fondly at the day that marks our metamorphosis.
we got married. it was beautiful.

Friday, December 09, 2016

imperfectly perfect

two weeks from now, the big day will be upon us. we have gone through the gamut of emotions, from eager anticipation, to nervousness, to exhaustion. there have been moments when we've questioned what we are doing, what we want to do. there have been moments when we've realized we have been overconfident about things we shouldn't have taken for granted. plans have been made and waylaid.

today morning, unlike the last few days, I woke up with a sense of peace. it was like the feeling of seeing the sun when the clouds part after a thunderstorm.

I woke up with the feeling that whatever happens, happens for the best. that I've been sweating the small things so much that I've lost sight the big things. that it doesn't matter if I choose pork vindaloo or pork sorpatel for the menu. or if shruti and i can't jive (we still can't, yet!). or if my tie doesn't perfectly match my shirt. or any number of other things.

life has never been perfect. we are far from perfect. how can our wedding be perfect?

maybe perfection isn't absolute. maybe, just as I regard my life so far to have been perfect in the sense that I don't want to change anything about my past, the next two weeks, the big day(s) - yes, there's two of them - and life after that will also be perfect in hindsight.

maybe imperfection is perfect.