One of the interesting thing about traveling alone is the quest to find people to talk to. The monotonicity of riding alone acts as a magnet towards those whom we meet on the highway. And invariably the self often finds characters with similar disposition.
These are the stories of some of those people I met on a semi-solo trip to Ladakh last year.
This blog entry is part of a three part series on the people I met during my Leh ride in 2015
Part 1: Lost in Punjab
Part 2: The Bearded Lama
Part 3: Peace on Pangong Tso
I caught the space between two waves and the stone made small ripples on the blue waters of Pangong Lake. It was a first glimmer of success in twenty or thirty stones I had thrown. Those ripples were hard to come.
I was living a dream. Spending a day idling on the banks of Pangong. This I had wished for upwards of several years.
When I first started thinking of riding to Leh, every itinerary I saw stuck me as an attempt to fit more and more in each day. It did not feel like a holiday; it felt like a tour – a tour filled with things to do, check lists to be ticked off.
Mine wasn’t going to be like that. Yes there were return flights to caught and phone calls to be made home; still in between I wanted to spend a few unfettered days in the lap of remote Himalayas. It is the fantasy of the dormant ascetic residing deep within all of us.
I was left with Rs800/- and a little more than a full tank of petrol to make my way home to Nainital from Pangong Lake.
Since losing my wallet near Dras several days back. I was living on an emergency stash and help from biker brothers. My current companion has moved onto Chulshul. With him went my hope of withdrawing money from the ATM at Karu, for I had another friend transfer funds to his account which I was hoping to withdraw.
But that was an earthly problem. I wasn’t going to bother myself with that for the time being.
From the banks of the lake the water did not look so blue. It was somewhat shiny grey primarily because of the grey stones that showed through the crystal clear waters. On the far shores the brown hills of Chinese land looked down upon the lake. I settled my bum deeper into warm sand. It was nice here. The sun warming my back and light breeze caressing my face.
The water from the dip in the lake had almost dried off. It was freezing cold and I spent but a few minutes in the lake; just to fulfill another promise made to myself.
“Juley”, suddenly a voice shouted out from the back shattering the peace of the moment. I was far enough from the road to not expect anyone. Turning around I found a young boy in lama robes and Yankees cap walking towards me. Greeting him back I watched him glide easily down the rocky slope to the water’s edge and sit down besides me.
On one hand I was irritated; on the other I was glad for the company.
And boy he could talk. He was full of question, much like my son who is 10yrs younger than him. For a while I answered the endless stream of unrelated question; Who am I? Where I come from? What I do? What about my family? What was I doing there? Why?
Then he stopped and looked far into the mountains. Suddenly the silence was unsettling.
It gave me time to ponder over his questions. And then it hit me. Each question was leading me towards the next. The questions had a purpose. The same questions I was asking myself; but in a more structured way. A way which made the answers easy.
I turned to look at him with a newly garnered respect. But he was gone. I frantically stood up and turned around, searching for him. There he was, his head disappearing beyond the top of the rise.
I wondered why he left suddenly. But he had left me with a clear set of question and a clear mind to find answers. I sat around longer enjoying the moment and the view. This was not a place I would have a chance to visit frequently.
I still had a problem to solve; eight hundred rupees and fifteen hundred Km to go.But that was a problem for later. For now the eyes and the soul were free to take in the feast.