It was around 6 in the morning when we started from Delhi. I caught up with the rest of the group at Rajghat and was pleasantly surprised to see a gypsy packed hexagonally with stuff and people. I was given the King size back seat which was luxury in the beginning but turned nightmarish towards end of the trip. How and why? We were to find out soon.
Well I dont really think that I should be writing about what stuff we packed for our trip. there are so many other places on internet and I am dead sure that when someone is seriously planning a leh trip he will find that information. so no point in reinventing the wheel and helping people with information doesnt really excite me. I realize i am not really one of the connectors from 'BLINK'. And besides that I feel that if you want all cooked information you are one lazy ass.
No hardships mean no fun. Simple. Something wrong should happen. Something unexpected unanticipated. I was just reading about death of 11 climbers on K2 and thinking what would I think or do or miss or remember if I am somewhere where there is a 50:50 chance of being on the right side of the mountain or the wrong. Life and death. Sure that would be exciting. At least from a distance :-) And I am sure if I keep on making the 10s of plans which i usually do I will end up in that kinda situation some day.
I was really impressed with John. First impressions. Never wrong :-).
Cheeta J (on way to delhi karnal bypass): Hi hitesh? How are you yaar?Main John. Kya karta hai?
Hitesh: Kuch nahi karta yaar
Cheeta J: Sahi hai. Aur kya karta hai
anyways thats how we started. I think after about two hours someone asked ki kitni der ho gayi hai and we couldnt help saying "bhai aaraam se raho abhi bahut hai bahut gari chalani hai"
One thing which was central to the trip was driving. Since it was supposed to be a driving trip essentially and Cheeta J and B forced Babbar on the trip they wanted the lions share of the driving pleasures. After multiple repeated assurances by both me and babbar they finally agreed to drive when its the toughest. While coming back and on the mountains so both of us had to share the boring task of driving through 250km of tarmac on a humid cloudy summer day with a constant verbal attack from behind our seats. John was at it. and bansal watched :-). All kind of permutations and combinatorial calculations were going on in Cheeta B's mind. Of the total trip length how much will he drive? We again assured everyone that on such a long drive....its not a question of if but that of a when.
Till chandigarh it is plain jane boring and just a drive and even thats not tough. You keep the steering and the speed at 90 and thats it. well yeah our gypsy had a special feature. it couldnt cross 90. but its not meant for that. we were to appreciate its ruggedness high on the mountains and through streams and rocks.
first stop came at karnal where we had some paranthas and butter. The moment we parked the gypsy out came john and out came his camera. John is quite natural at photography. And he handles his camera with care. It is carefully wrapped in a yellow sheet of polythene and then again in a poly bag and then nicely snugged in the camera case with a velcro hold to secure it. (actually reminds me of the scrap book vinay has in the movie Bheja fry. wrapped in the yellow polythene bag). After making an effort to get the camera out in minutes when finally you see the pic.....aha ah aha its worth it.
Hes even got a filter and a protective cover on the camera which makes it look like a mini canon.
Babbar: Abe itne bare camera se to yahin se dikh jayega leh laddakh
Cheeta J: Nahi yaar aaj clouds bahut hain
We started off after a decently heavy breakfast and by this time John had shot what not! fan, water bottle, all the singh kings around and what not. Give him a camera and he will miss boarding a plane to shoot. Marvelous.
Nothing not routine happened till we crossed chandigarh and even after we crossed chandigarh nothing non routine happened. We took a short break once we crossed chandigarh and decided to have some snacks (fried, oily stuff) and beer besides a lush green yellow summer field. Yeh Beer mujhe kabhi pasand nahi aayi. I always drink it to confirm that I still dont like it.
Below you can see john shooting something. Hes got an eye for even a non-existing detail. The time john spent on shooting bags and sundry...I could have done a photoshoot of Katerina Kaif in the same time.
Cheeta J and B and countryside
Babbar, me and John after a beer each. Not that we looked different before the beer but mind it there was going to be a difference soon. It always begins like this. Enthu, smiles, beers and jokes and then there is panting, cribbing, hunger pangs but no good food, and more and more endless driving. Thats actually the fun part. Notice the BLUE BANIYAN here.
Next few hours were non descript boring kms just 100kms short of manali. The hill driving part starts with bilaspur. the roads in this part of the himalayas are better than the higways. you can drive at 90 with a power steering. that was when Babbar woke up from his sleep and took the wheels. Now Babbar is not one of your ordinary drivers. He is gonna take part in the Tour De Himalayas sometime in september and guess who will be the navigator and the cleaner and the parking boy......the award goes to Cheeta J. So goes without saying Babbar likes to give a tough time to his gypsy at times and that exactly what he did for about 15 minutes.
What we had after 15 minutes was smell of burning brake shoe,john hanging from the door handle and all the non-drivers looking at each other with relief. Not that babbar was not going to drive slow because the rest 3 of us didnt appreciate it that much but because we had a break shoe problem (potential) even before our real trip started and babbar couldnt drive fast now.
to be contd.......