For the world, I have just returned from the land of stark beauty and scenic passes. From a land straight out of our Bollywood dance sequence locations. My friends and well-wishers saw me head off on a journey that some applauded and some worried over. But for me, I was undertaking a journey towards discovering my 'self'.
Having spent my entire childhood in Amboli, I shifted to Pune for my education. Then I got myself a job with an eco-tourism company by the name of Foliage Outdoors. My love for travelling has been nurtured by them. A childhood hobby suddenly turned into a lifelong passion and thereon began an unexpected journey. A journey perhaps even I was not entirely prepared for...We are familiar with the joy and thrill associated with cycle rides. As children, we rode our cycles, feeling an exhilaration hard to explain. I have 'been there, done that'. But I have gone beyond that simple childhood joy to experience that exhilaration in a different region of our country.
For years, I have nurtured a dream. To cycle from Manali to Leh and Leh to Srinagar on the rugged roads with no one but myself for company. It felt like now was the time to fulfill this long withstanding dream of mine.
The journey kicked off before I had time to realise it. I undertook a journey of over 1000 kms within 23 days (02 August - 24 August), which also included what is said to be the world's highest pass, Khardung-la.
Each morning I used to set off by 6-6.30 am considering the ever-changing weather and the thin air causing breathlessness, and aim to reach my desired destination by 1-1.30 pm. After an afternoon siesta, I used to explore the village I was in and gather energy for the next day's journey.
Overall, the experiences I have collected during these 23 days are immemorial. The entire duration of the journey seems like a test of stamina, endurance and mental strength. I faced lonely roads, raging winds, high passes, weather that chilled me to my bones, rain, snowfall and the scorching sun. But what made all this bearable and absolutely worth it were the towering mountains. And to capture this into words is an almost impossible feat.
Two months of training supported by a strong willpower led me to fulfill a dream I was long since hankering over. I am grateful to Sachin Gaonkar, a friend of mine from Mumbai who helped me to prepare for this journey.
The rugged roads who led me to fulfill my dream taught me an important lesson. No matter how tired the traveller, the roads continue their journey and do not stop for anyone. If we experience the life others are living by stepping out of our comfort zone, we realise what a wonderful life we are leading!