Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#lehDiaries: the beginning

it's probably every Indian biker's dream, and it has been mine too. the first time I went to leh in 2009, i was so taken aback by everything that I knew I had to go back, but i wasn't sure if I would ever have the skills or mettle to actually succeed in the endeavour. the dream endured, until one fine day last year, when my friend Abhishek (who, incidentally, i had only met once before that day, and that too, by accident) excitedly called and told me that he was riding to leh, and that i absolutely had to come.

it was a long shot, since we were barely a month and a half from the proposed dates, my manager was on a two week vacation, and i had absolutely no idea how i would prepare for such a trip.

I did realize though, that a lot had changed since 2009, and if there was a time to attempt leh on bike, this was it. and so, preparations began. starting with booking train tickets, then getting my leaves approved, getting my biking gear in order, and finally, upping my off-roading skills a bit.

my train tickets didn't quite go through (i was waitlisted until literally the night before my journey), i borrowed most of my biking gear, and my attempt to ride up rajmachi to prepare failed quite terribly (it was my third failed attempt, at that!). the only thing I had going for me was the fact that i had 17 days' leave, and that Abhishek passed on this never-say-die attitude that saw me through.

when i think about it now, we were rather cowboy-ish in our preparations, and a lot was left to luck... but our luck held. the ride was a success. and everything was out of the world.

those 17 days were out of the world. those 17 days were probably my best days of 2013. those 17 days were heaven. and much as I didn't want to return, i knew I had to. and i knew I would have to go there again and again. and i did. and i will.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


another birthday. another half-expected, but still surprising, surprise. the usual suspects and the usual agenda. and yet, something different. it seemed like things have been the same, but it is very obvious that they are not. i'm slowing down. I'm taking it easier. but raising my standards, ever so slightly. sometimes it feels like it's too slight. but I'm happy, and that's what matters. it's hard to pinpoint moments, but i am. i'm finding happiness in new things, and that is encouraging. i'm also getting better at leaving behind what I don't need to carry, but knowing my life, that may just be an illusion. i can leave most things behind, and it's nice and scary at the same time. i sometimes don't realize what i have picked along the way, but my life is rarely about control. and i think i was always good of making do.

and so here I am, looking forward and looking back, when everything seems almost the same. I know that I will never let it be the same, but i have no idea how it will be different. there is no plan, no direction, but some spark. and i hope it will keep going.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#lehDiaries: chapter two

3955 km and 18 days later, i'm back where I started. i could say it's just a dream I've woken up from. but i have four lovely people who shared it with me, and it's a dream I can go back to, every time I close my eyes, and feel the bite of an icy mountain wind, the dust in the air, my damp socks, the drone of Carly's engine, the crunch of gravel under her wheels. as the days go by, these senses will fade, and all we'll be left with will be photographs and videos and a few lingering memories... and it will be time to hit the road again, for another chapter in my #lehDiaries

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