Friday, May 26, 2017


as part of being self-aware, i've generally been conscious of the decisions i make, and their influence on my living sustainably. but i think the automatic self-awareness has been gradually overridden by a daily (or actually, frequent) flight-or-fight syndrome in the last few months. my life may have the outward appearances of being perfectly on track, even to myself, but it seems like something is fundamentally wrong. i'm ticking most of the boxes: sleep, eating right (most of the time, at least), and a healthy entertainment quota. but something isn't quite adding up. and so, it seems like i need to structure my attention. and somehow, it seems like the sort of thing that can't be done incrementally.

the worst part about being off-balance is, firefighting takes up precious time that should be spent getting back on track. and it's easy to say that i have the luxury of time (i don't have any deadlines, at least!), but i know things aren't getting better.

and so, it's time for a reboot. hopefully, no data will be lost!

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)

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