Lock-down day 39: Last of my pistachios is gone. Believe it or not shelling pistachio is a challenge in and of itself, the struggle is real people, but given the current circumstances, it was an activity that fit perfectly for the tiny breaks in between work or my movie marathons.

Lock-down day 40: The urge to go out for a walk is unbearable. It is almost 48 days since I last stepped out of the house, except for disposing garbage and wishing Mary aunty, the garbage collector. Apart from Mary aunty I have not had any face to face conversations with any other fellow human. Tried to strike up a conversation with Jimmy, the street dog, well, let’s just say he shut his eyes to my attempt, literally.

In a matter of few days, our lives were brought to a standstill. The virus has forced us, to stop and consider, re-evaluate our priorities, deal with fear, uncertainty, despair, gratitude, empathy, hope, loss, all at the same time. Considering the world we were living in, the catastrophe that 2020 is turning out to be, was well on our way, we just didn’t see it coming. One minute we were ready to land on Mars and next Kaboom!!!bound to 4 walls.

With countries around the world on a lockdown, the unlikely beneficiary of all this, Nature. Blue skies and cleaner air, wild animals taking the streets, nature has never seemed more glorious and indifferent to us humans. It is reclaiming the planet.

Lock-down 1: ”I think I should be fine on my own” stocking up the grocery and Bisleri water,  I assured myself. It will be like Jesus living on his own in the wilderness after baptism. Only difference, he was fasting and had company of Satan/angels whereas I am feasting with Satan as my company.

It wasn’t easy to be honest; it is especially hard if you are staying on your own. Friends, I have quite a few of them, some are busy with their succulent plants while others with their kids, husband, and in-laws. In times like these, you have only yourself to rely on and the sooner you become aware of that reality the better.  My strategy in getting through the Pandemic is to not fight the mind but just let it wander off to harmless, and relatively healthier thoughts in a restrained manner. Rennel, my neighbor has been helpful in providing just that, the right amount of distraction.

Lock-down 3: It’s just day three and am already barred from some of the coveted WhatsApp groups, thanks to my relentless Coronavirus forwards, memes and some more memes, never the news though, I figured we have the news channels, and various other social platforms  for that. But to tell you the truth, I was just trying my best to make the situation we are all collectively going through a little easier on the people I care, yeah my way of going about it wasn’t totally ‘Zen’, but didn’t someone once say “It’s the thought that counts”, well, whatever.

Lock-down 5: Trying hard to keep my face above the water and swim, it is a struggle, but I am giving it my all. I try to shift my attention from the pain, the suffering, the deaths, the %^&ing virus and the world in general and instead focus it all on mostly work, and occasionally Rennel.

He seems silent and soft spoken by nature,  I don’t ever hear him shout into his  phone, or even talk slightly louder on the  phone,  like you are supposed to, because you know the receiver a cell phone sucks, at least that’s my excuse for being loud on the phone. He definitely did not buy into the ‘Get cooking’ trend of the Lockdown, for he has been persistent in his visits to his cousin’s or friend’s place across the street for lunch and dinner, at the very least.

There is an old carom board kept at the entrance to his flat, blocking cats and cute kittens who used to often pay him visits and as a return gift pooped in the passage right by his door. So, now every time he moves the board nosily, I know he is either going somewhere or getting in. Also, he is terribly loud with the lock and the keys.

No, I am not an old fashioned nosy neighbor, I just am a light sleeper who is anxious about of living alone and so likes to be aware and informed about the things/people around, things like Rennel rides an old, outdated, perhaps a third hand bike are as important as knowing whose door to knock  case of an emergency or would it be  wiser to manage with the kitchen knife and chill powder.

Lock-down Day7: “Do you have water?”, “Do you have rice?”, “Do you have gas to cook?”……the same questions pop out in a row, first by my dad, then mom, of course a follow up  by my sister. “I have everything except peace!?” I bark at them. “You can manage then…”.

I didn’t travel to my hometown, like the rest of the Bangalore, instead I decide to stay back just so that my work does not suffer. Given the lousy internet service there, the whole “working from home” wouldn’t last a day, let alone two months.

“You are ok right?” my mom likes to play her ace card with that heart melting voice,  which for an instance makes you forget everything except the stark reality that you are not with your family. And If you let yourself entertain that sinking feeling, even for a second longer, you are screwed up, you start falling apart. However, If you are smart enough you suck it up and move on. I do the latter, “Yeah, yeah, fit and fine”. Wonder where mothers learned to be intuitive like that.

It’s not that I don’t miss home, I just try my hardest not to, it just takes a great deal of strength to push through, and not get sucked into an emotional pitfall. The nostalgia, the longing to be home with family, Mom’s home cooked food, all this if you are not careful enough can leave you emotionally drained and I simply can’t afford to live like that.

The situation we are all in reminds me so much of the days as described by Anne Frank, in her diary. If we don’t have veggies we can eat potatoes like how Anne Frank and her family did.

Lock-down Day8: There is a knock at my door. There’s another one and my extra attentive self concludes, “That’s definitely my door”. I open the door, surprised to find  a guy standing at the door and staring right at me.

I don’t smile rather stare back,  “Who is he? what the heck does he want…..” while I was trying to get a grip on my thoughts he interrupts me “I stay on the top floor” Bingo!!!My mind starts  mapping him immediately   “the one who rides cycle -> the one who makes noise while climbing the steps”. I intentionally dazzle him with one of my ugliest, uninteresting smiles. With outgrown eyebrows, oily face, plaited hair,  I am no ordinary, girl-next-door beauty.

“Is there any extra space in your fridge?”

My fridge was loaded like a full 9 months pregnant woman already.

“Really sorry, it’s full” I said politely

“I have got some curd, and it needs to be refrigerated” he wasn’t requesting he was trying to convince me

“I am really sorry, I really am” It just some curd, maybe I can adjust

“I don’t want to waste it; I am against wasting food”.

“Ok, let’s see”

“Thank you so much, if you want you can use it too” he was happy and disappeared to get his so called precious curd packet.

“Why I will use his curd packet!?”. I will write my name in block letters on my curd packet!

He comes back with several items in his hands. Wait a minute, did we talk about an item or several items? I am being taken for a ride, even in these times.  I hated him already for not keeping his word.

“Sorry I didn’t get your name” I say politely

“I am Chakra“ he said asking for mine

I told my name and like always repeated it a couple of times. A typical thing to love with, with a name like mine, in India.

I took the items wearing gloves and dumped them in the fridge.

Time passed, I got occupied with work. After a while it started to bother me , “Did he wash the curd packet with soap?”, “Why did he being the vegetables along?” I sought suggestions to remediate the situation from my college buddies.

“You made a mistake, learn to say no in situations like these”, Shenoy the manager was straight to the point.

Next day when Chakra came to pick his curd packet I sent along his other items too, said sorry and bye.

Lock-down Day9: I am running out of dark chocolates, my only luxury during the lockdown. They make me happy and keep me going .

“WFH sucks, it just sucks, I want to go to office” was my answer for every “how’s WFH” question. When I read about migrant workers dying, suffering, starving I stopped whining. At least I had roof over my head and food while others are struggling every single second through this never-ending nightmare of a situation.

Lock-down Day11: I bought some prawns from the fish seller thinking some curry won’t be harmful

“I think by mistake the guy touched my hand” I was all worried once again, washing my hand with hot water and hand wash for nth time.

Shenoy, the manager as we call him “OMG!!!Watch out for the symptoms for next 14days, anyway you are quarantined so should be ok”.

“You think I am infected?”

“Not sure, may be or may not be” That’s why we call him manager, he always have some solution.

Palm Sunday 2020: Hung the curry leaves branch outside, so what if I didn’t have Palm. An year with no palms, quite fitting for the dark year none of us will ever forget, for as long as we are alive

Not sure whether Rennel is religious, did he even visit the church back when things were normal?

Good Friday 2020: For the first time in all these years, the regular days seem sadder than the good Friday. He died for our sins, to save us, will he save the mankind and forgive us once again? or will he continue to punish us .It rained heavily that night.

Easter Sunday 2020: Easter came and went quietly, nothing festive about it this year. Online mass, online blessings, no rum, no wine, hopefully the resurrected Jesus is finally happy. Silver, unopened tequila bottle is sound asleep on a rack in my store room.  I am not depressed enough to drink my sorrows away, yet.

Rennel had a blast with his friends across the street. Could hear their merry voices and slow music floating into the silent night. It was comforting to know at least there’s someone out there being festive and enjoying the day.

Lock-down Day15: My WFH continues, I don’t complain any more, I just keep head down and work, it’s hectic at times, but at the same time I am grateful I still have a job, millions around the world are losing theirs every day.

Not sure whether Rennel works from home or if he is self-employed?

Back when life was normal, I was out the door, by 7 in the morning, fumbling with the lock and keys, rechecking if it’s secure enough, opening and locking it again, just an everyday ritual for someone suffering from OCD , and then rush through the staircase to get to my bus stop in time. So was totally unaware of Rennel’s morning routine by had a faint idea about his evenings.

Evenings, he used to go out after 7, may be to a gym,  not sure, he had no fixed schedule. There were weekends when he would come back home early in the morning,  like 4 and then struggle to  open the door with his own keys and then the freaking carom board, I woke up often cursing him, Once I almost wore my PJs,  ready to go down and give him some gyan on how to unlock the door without making any sound. And not mention the awful cigarette smell engulfing the corridor. Often an indication of him having a great time previous night, don’t think he is a regular smoker but definitely smokes quite a few cigarettes when he is drunk

Lock-down Day17: Learned to prepare chapatis, thanks to YouTube. Should I brag about my little achievement on one of the social networking platforms? I burnt calories picking up my 3 KG dumb bells. The invisible biceps are almost there, if you stare at them long enough you will start to see them, and yet you won’t find me bragging about them or anything else on social media. I have bid my farewell to all that long back. No, I am not caveman I am just old fashioned. I like to mind my own business and keep it to myself. I like going about my day without having the need to broadcast every little detail of my life to the world at large.  May be this how people in their mid-30s behave. My next goal is to get a waist as narrow as the mind, of few of the men around.

I can’t smell the cigarette these days may be Rennel ran out of smokes or he gave up. Sometimes I can hear him talk to his cousin or friend. He is courteous and sweet on the phone. He appears to be sociable person when around people he knows well.

Lock-down Day18: A brown vicious kitten visited me, was over the moon, finally someone came to see me, so what if it’s just a smelly orphan kitten. With cute, s button like eye and her golden fur she was gorgeous. I am tempted to touch, a touch which we all are prohibited from these days, but my experience with her species has not always been pleasant and so I maintain my distance, and just pour some milk out for her in a bowl and wait for her to come out of her hiding place to enjoy the bowl of milk.

Did she visit Rennel? Probably not, that carom board would have blocked her path. Does he like animals I wondered?

She was gone when I unlocked the door little later, the milk sat there untouched. Hopefully she will be alright and won’t be mauled by the street dogs.

Lock-down 20: Stepped out to get some cilantro and the lady touched my hand, this even after being extra cautious and standing at a distance of a kilometer from her, can’t be too careful these days.

“I was being super careful but I feel like the lady still managed to touch me ” I was trying to justify with the manager

“You can’t be careful enough, anyway you are quarantined, watch out for symptom” Shenoy, the manager was at it again.

“What?! You think you are infected? Why did you go out anyway?” My sister was flipping out.

“I wanted some Cil……antro” she was pissing me off already

“Wanted what ? Cyril….?

“CILNTRO bum, coriander leaves”

“Wow” she must have rolled her eyes at me,  I could totally feel it. ”Can’t you cook without cilantro?!”

“No, I want my salad dressing to be perfect” yeah I know I am crazy.

Lock-down Day 25: No symptoms, drinking hot water, lemon water gargling ….the holy water is playing its tricks too. Whenever my throat is itchy, I take a sip and pray “God not this time, please”. It’s my blind faith that’s all

Lockdown one Of Sunday: I attend online mass, a minimal effort to keep my relationship with the almighty.

“All peace with me and Rennel with you” I say when the priest says peace be with you.

Lock-down Day30: Sun rises, rolls, sets and then disappears, days pass nights vanish and I live in my lonesome world working on weekdays and watching something on weekends. My thoughts which are very loud at times keep me occupied and then there is Rennel

Rennel, may be in his late 20s or early 30s with thick eyebrows and fair complexion, perfect nose, cavity free teeth, he is 5.9, a sight for sore eyes. His then short hair now grown into long, thick length, held back by a rubber band. Can’t wait to run my fingers through his luscious locks, am pretty sure it feels heavenly.

It has been 8 months since he move into a flat on the ground floor of my building, our paths never crossed, how unfortunate, not even once. If we had met before the lockdown, the shy and sweet smiles exchanged between us would have given a perfect start to pleasant companionship or perhaps something more. Oh my terrible fate!!.

Lock-down Day35: I had my first mango of the season. Oh dear god, thank you If I wasn’t grateful before I want to rectify it right away, starting right at this moment. Thank God for tropical fruits. The items I ordered online get delivered in instalments, and struggle to survive continues.

Lock-down Day37: When the loneliness creeps in and starts to eat me up I play the music so loud my then confused thoughts start to disappear, like they are terrified of someone louder then them

If I lower the volume I can hear “Before you go” by Lewis Calpadi playing from Reenel’s house, finally we have something in common. And few other songs too, which are neither too old nor too new, silent, melodious, romantic numbers, never the heavy metal bands. This is how I guessed his age, some silly logic you might say.

Lock-down Day40: Trying my best to pluck the extra hair and  shape my out of shape eyebrows. Ouch!!!Nooooo I shout. Now my eye brows are uneven, one is like the peak of Mount Everest while other doesn’t have a peak. Pain of every woman.

Does Rennel have girl friend? I wonder. It’s not that I am interested it’s just that I want to keep my thoughts occupied as much as possible and stop sulking over everyday things.

He goes out many a times throughout the day, lunch around 3, tea/walk with his sister’s dogs around 4, dinner around 9:30 to 10 and then final one,  a little later in the night , not sure if it’s for a smoke or just a walk after dinner. Initially I did try to ignore keeping track of the carom board moving and his every little struggle with the door, the lock and the keys, but of course, I didn’t do a great job, and as you can see I failed quite miserably.

Sometimes I think maybe I should knock on his door, give him one of the Alphonso mangoes which I so dearly love “Don’t think you  have tasted the mangoes this season, or have you? Anyway,  here’s one for you ”…..terrible idea, or maybe I should just keep a mango at his doorstep with a Post it note on it,  with a message “From one caring neighbor to another!?

”Rennel” I don’t know what it means but it’s gentle and it’s  nice. Recently I had Wi-Fi trouble that’s when I got to know, there’s a new name popping in the available network “Rennel’s phone” I read the tarot cards for the day and concluded its my downstairs neighbor. The very neighbor I have never met and yet know so much about, it could all just be nothing more than my perception of him, but that’s okay , I am okay with that.

Lock-down day41: Wonder if our PM will assign us any more interesting tasks, he keeps everyone occupied. He is a darling, isn’t he?!. I love the day following the task, so many memes, I still forward them to a few of the groups where I am still a member, with a looming fear I could lose the membership anytime and so make the best of it while you can.

Wonder what Rennel does to his free time? Does he watch movies? or may be watches series,  like Money heist, Asura or just sleeps like Kumbakarna, who knows !

Lock-down, I lost the count: Zombie apocalypse would have been better, at least we would know who is infected unlike COVID-19.It’s like fighting an invisible enemy. With zombies the problem would be , to out-run the freaking creatures , at least we can touch our own  face. Our life has been about washing hands, covering faces, avoiding human touch, sanitizing every possible shit and then of course being able to afford and buy groceries, this is the new normal.  A virus fucked us over, the great humans and there is nothing we can do about it, except stay in our fucking homes. We are living with fear, but there’s hope, hope that we will get through this together, it is going to be okay,   we will come out on the other side a little more compassionate, a little more grateful, a little more resilient. But we have to accept the fact that some things will never go back to what they were.

Hope, though a small word, sub-consciously has an immense effect on us,it is  why we get out of bed every day, for without hope there is no looking forward to anything, not even tomorrow. Here’s hoping that one day, I bump into my neighbor, Rennel and show him how to handle the locks without waking up the entire neighborhood and let him know how he kept me going through the dark days of Covid-19.  But for the time being I am happy and thankful to him for his pleasant, silent company.

P.S:Thank you SH for your magical editing, you gave a totally different look 🙂 

Kodachadri, I had seen pics and heard lot of adventurous stories, so it was lying in my list from couple of years. It’s not that I never tried, it just that whenever I planned  either the trek got cancelled or I had to drop out at the last minute. Thanks to #Itinerary I geared up for the trek in August, in midst of the crazy monsoon 

Best time to visit Kodachadri is September-October, post the monsoon, definitely not during Monsoon. It was raining non stop for a week, near by places were already flooded , Mlore was half submerged so as Shimoga but I didn’t had the nerve to cancel my trek. “Dont worry, this time definitely you will see Kodachadri” trek organizer, my friend Vishwajeet’s boosting words all I needed. I ignored the news, weather reports, natures wild signs

By the time we reached Shimoga on Saturday morning 6.00AM, it was already flooded. We waited almost for 2 hours with hope to cross a small bridge which was invisible in that dirty water. We waited and waited, when the water didnt budge we went in search of other route. It wasnt easy but some how we were able to cross a flooded bridge

If you dont yield to the signs of nature this is what happens

After freshening up and having our breakfast we started our trek in that poring rain

Some had come prepared while others didnt. I was the only one who was super prepared with poncho and wind sheet.

Monsoon treks are different than the usual ones. There are no views at all, with cloud blocking the scenery it’s always the rain and leeches you are left with. I did enjoy little bit of it. If you ask me if I want to do a Monsoon trek again , a BIG NO is all you get.

My poncho almost killed me twice. The crazy wind blew so hard I almost stumbled and fell, If I wasnt holding anything for support by now I would have been history.

At the top there is small temple. People said the view from here is really nice but all we could see was pissed off clouds, standing and glaring back at us.

It was a nice group of trekkers, with known and unknown faces the trek was fun with blood sucking leeches. It was a packed lunch  and local home-stay for the night. Nicely organized by #itinerary team.

It was pain to watch how those leeches sucked your blood clutching with all their might and then fell like a drunkard.

Other trekkers left for Jog falls while I had to travel to Mlore due to personal emergency. Jog falls still in my wish list, hopefully soon I will be able to strike it out.

“Dandeli” it’s beautiful place no doubt in that but more than it’s adventurous .The well known river rafting, attracts most of the young as well as old folks. From many years I was trying to visit Dandeli but due to one or other reason I couldnt. So finally I did land in Dandeli with Google and it didn’t disappoint me.

It’s a beautiful place to visit over the weekends , the greenery, birds chirping siting on those wild gigantic tree, the fresh pure air, the wild animals…..

Time for some river rafting.

That’s Google, sitting on the edge. As we were only 2, we had to tag along with all strangers.

Looked like Google enjoyed kayaking, she didnt wanted to come ashore.

Syntheri Rocks.

The place where we stayed “Halli Mane” home stay, was too good, the stay, the food, the surrounding.  

This is only for Honey Lovers, mind you.

We were looking forward to visit Dudhsagar the next day. Local train from Londa to Dudhsagar, couple of hours in water and then back to Londa, that was our plan. But when we reached Londa we got to know that the train is delayed , at 10:15 so to kill the time we visited near by church.

On the way to church we saw a dog stuck in the gate, Google, aka Miss N didnt think twice before helping the old man with the dog.

Later we got to know the train got delayed for some more time. So to kill some more time we explored the streets of Londa.

It was almost 12 , people were waiting and train wasn’t there anywhere.

It was almost 2:15 when overcrowded train showed up. May be I wasn’t thinking straight when I said I want to visit Dudhsagar but when I stepped into the local compartment I came back to the reality. I wanted to get off the train right away but doors were jam packed with people. “F%^&$ Dudsagar and the train”. 

The TC we met in Londa was really nice and helpful, he gave many tips and encouraged us not to go back without seeing the falls.

Sweat smell mixed with dirt and urine smell it was driving, everyone(I want to believe that) crazy but as there was no place to stand , that was last of anybody’s worry. Train stopped in every station more than 30 mins and sometimes 45 mins, the last train from Dudhsagar back to Londa was at 4:30. If our train wont reach on time we wont be able to come back, seeing Dudhsagar will be out of equation all together in such scenario.”May be we shouldn’t have come”, that would have been a super wise decision I felt seeing the situation.

Finally we reached Dudhsagar around 4, as we had still 30 minutes, Miss N and I, started running on the tracks just to have a glimpse of Dudhsagar, to make this journey a bit memorable. The train by which we came was still following that “stop for 30 minutes in every station”, it looked like train and other passengers were already in sync except us.

We started running like mad dogs, “Dont run, you will fall” free advise givers were many and we didn’t had time to listen to them. We continued, Miss N got blisters and kept on going. “The ordeal we went through in that general compartment have to be worth it” is all I said.

It wad good view “If you still go further down the view is killer like the one from “Chennai Express”, some of the guys who had spent whole day told us.

“That will be in my next birth” I said in my mind.

We were back by 4:30, breathless and exhausted. The train came around 4:45, jam packed. Getting into it was another challenging job.

Finally when we got into the general compartment, where there was no place to stand, one of them was secretly touching, utilizing the situation like many other men. “B***$$ men will be always men no matter alive or dead”. If I had a knife I would have chopped his finger and would have thrown it from the window, I was pissed, madly.

The rerun journey from Londa to Dandeli, where we were supposed to board bus back was another event to remember. No one was talking , it was tensed atmosphere “will catch the bus or miss it?”, it looked like only time could answer the question. Luckily we were able to board the bus on time, thanks to our drive Vijay sir.

It was a disaster journey, my advise; never take the train if it gets delayed or not, there are other ways to reach Dudhsagar, they will be the best option considering all the ordeal we went through.

Previous days good memories were suppressed by terrible experience of second day “I am definitely going to visit Dudhsagar, may be from Goa side ” Miss N was saying. “Good for you” I said. Somewhere deep down I felt when you have to go through hell to visit a place it’s not worth the view. May be I will visit Dandeli again but never Dudhsagar, I was very content with my first visit 🙂

Epic Ending Of My Leh Trip

Posted: March 20, 2020 in I Got Leh'd
Tags: ,

It was almost 15 days and I was little home sick, I was missing Bangalore already. That’s the speciality of the Bangalore, when you are around you hate it, when you are far away you miss it. “Around 1:00PM in Delhi, around 8:00 PM max in Bangalore, can order Meghana’s Chicken Biryani and next day boring office….”my thoughts were back to reality, working like machine, planning, well in advance for the upcoming journey.

Around 9.00AM Mika came to pick me up at my hostel , for a change I was glad I wasnt travelling alone “You all set?”, she was full of life and warm like always.

“Yeah”I said in a low voice. 

“You can always come back, you know that right.”

“Yeah true, may be I will.” There is something special about Leh, you cant get enough of it.

We were too early and managed to get window seat again:),(lucky me)separate though.

The weighing scale shot up when Mika put her bag.

“Looks like that stone is the culprit”

Mika had picked a big, beautiful stone, which she picked up when we had stopped the vehicle for a quick photo break,on the way to Nubra. She didnt open her bag and throw the stone when the ground staff raised his eye brows rather she opened her wallet and paid the money “It’s Leh souvenir, it has to come with me”. There were so many things I admired about her, simplicity, down to earth nature more than that she admired each and every tiny little thing”.

As Leh have only one airport ,we stumbled upon most of the people we met earlier, the Korean guys too and I had smiled at them”

How you know them” Mika asked me

“There were staying in the same home-stay where I stayed in Pangong. Never thought I will see them again”

“World is too small”

As the plane took over the run away I felt sad, my epic journey was coming to an end. The warm-hearted people, culture, the beautiful mountains,  the trek, fun loving trek mates, the cold crazy weather, the wind, the hostel, intolerable power cuts …I was going to miss dearly. “I will be back, may be I can do that Stok Kangri trek next year or explore Leh little bit more.” I was lost in my thoughts seeing the beauty of the valley and mountains .

We had crossed a great amount of distance when our flight faced turbulence. It was not pleasant one. It was like auto rickshaw ride, on a road filled with pot holes, always in air and never on the seat.

“God let me not die in the plane crash. My dad might beat the shit out my already dead body” scared of my dad, I was praying.

Meanwhile I stuck a conversation with a army guy  sitting on aisle seat, adjacent seat was vacant. His name was something like Urug, he was from Darjeeling, was on his way back home home,for a vacation. It looked like he was all excited, he told me few things about difficult army life, the problems they face in Leh, the food they eat. “Never go with the looks, there is always a catch”, some good gyan from the army guy. We were talking when the heavy downpour caught my attention.

“It’s raining”

“Hopefully will be able to land safely, I have connecting flight” he was all worried now.

To worsen the things there was thunder storm and first time I experienced super crazy turbulence.

We covered some more distance and entered Delhi, could see the tiny metro station, the roads.

“We are reaching on time. Good that I dont have to collect my crazy bag-pack in Delhi, hopefully the trekking pole is still there” my mind was a crazy horse wondering in all possible directions.

We were close, we could see the run way when it started to pour again. Our flight took left and then right, flew straight for almost 10 minutes while my eyes were glued on the wing trying to predict whether its going to take left or right, it was a fun game to kill the time and control the jittery nerves.

It was like constipated situation, you want to poop but you cant ,no matter how hard you try. Run way was few few inches below while Pilot announced that it is difficult to land as the weather is bad

“Give your best short dude and land the plane, like how Virat Kohli delivers a six when we need 5 runs to win with 2 balls. Give your best shot, I cant take another day off” I was grumbling.

Our flight flew, took some more turns, left, right, flew some more

“This will be the second attempt , if we cant land we will be re-directing the flight to nearest airport” Pilot’s announcement didnt calm my nerves.

“Nearest airport can be Bangalore?” I was impossible, logically and mentally both.

Uru was already going bonkers about his leaves and connecting flight

I dont know why I felt the pilot didnt tried hard enough to land the flight in the second attempt. We just flew like a bird which doesnt want to land .

“Regret to say…..we will be landing in Lucknow…”the pilot went on announcing while passengers started bombarding the air hostess with questions.

“We request you to remain calm….”

“Calm my as*”

I called my Google and Google assured me that airways have to take care of its passengers in situation like this. “They will provide the food, make necessary arrangement for your stay if you are stranded”. she was good that’s the reason I always call Mrs N as Google. I was sucking in the all information when I got some more web links, articles on whats app. She is smart and quick.

“When we can travel to Delhi?”, “what about our connecting flight?”, “how long we have to wait?”…….

The air hostess tried their best to calm the passengers but it was vain.  It looked like they had faced this issue n number of time unlike the passengers.

People were shouting, calling home, kids were crying, AC wasnt working properly, ……it was chaotic. After a great deal of 2 hours wait we were asked to get down from the flight. We were served with snacks before that.

Lucknow was nice, we weren’t allowed to go out , we were asked to stay inside the airport and self fill ticket. 

I had seen the South Koreans guys around, being a Korean drama freak I was drawn to them. There is no logical description for my mental state to be honest. They were alright on their own but I just checked on them and made sure they are doing alright. Blame it on my current role in office, I have this craziness to make sure all are comfortable and not facing any problem

Mika and I were chit chatting when the South Korean guys came and gave me a chocolate. I was pretty touched.  That’s me, half burnt mackerel in Leh’s sun with them. Their other friend opted to stay back in Leh for some more days. I dont know much about South Korean men (except from the dramas) but it looked like they are very good gentlemen.

I was lucky Mika was around else I would have gone crazy with boredom. We spoke for hours, roamed around, she admired Indian ladies dressed in all colors. We could relate the things. I was, still am glad that I met her on my trip.

Time was passing and we were going insane , sitting on the edge of the seat and waiting for the announcement. We were served refreshment around 9 and finally we left Lucknow at 11:30 in the night. By the time we reached Delhi airport it was 1. 

“You ever visit South Africa, always remember you have a friend there, you can come and stay with me” Mika said giving me a tight hug. Its hard to meet good people but when you meet them its difficult to part ways.

I was given a decent accommodation non-sharing(it was heavenly after the stay in hostel, in tent in the mountains) in one of Delhi’s hotel. It was almost 2:30 AM when I hit the bed. Worried, tired and exhausted I drifted to sleep in no time.

Next day when I boarded the jam packed flight to Bangalore around 11:00AM I was happy, didnt had any regrets. First time on my own, I explored a beautiful new place, stay with strangers, made some new friends, explored a trail, experienced a different culture, weather, food, hospitality, visited Lucknow too(short but sweet) with no expectations but with a open mind and my gigantic backpack like a hippie(that’s what I was called at the moment). It’s a total different feeling when you do things on your own term, it makes you feel like there is nothing you can’t achieve. At that moment I was the top the world and I didn’t feel like down.

Finally The End

Perfect morning; getting up to see Pangong flow majestically surrounded by mountains. Its was heavenly feeling.

My dear friend Karmaji. Darn we look like brothers!!

Guess the faceless ghost!

If you go further in the right you will reach Chinese border.

How I envied the lucky bas** duck, mocking us and swimming in the morning. It was tempting to take a dip seeing the duck but water was too cold.

Some strangers from South Korea, we departed as friends. Story to be continued :), no we didnt share the number if that’s what you are wondering. 

Owner of the Padma home stay. She was very humble, down to earth. Previous night when I walked into kitchen to kill the time she took me to her room and her me watch her pray. It was really sweet of her I thought.

This is where I stayed.

More home stays.

Post card picture.

Some photography by Karmaji

She just adore animals.

They all say I am nice photographer.

Expert in photo bombing perfect pictures.

Yak Ride

Some more Yak’s

Marmot

They are so adorable.

“Be Gentle….”

Cutie pie!

The Shaggy Dog

“The note for educated people because most of the time they act like monkeys”

Chang La baba temple

All they have to say is “Jullay”

You got it!

Holidays;quality time with family.

Blink of my eyes, my extended trip came to an end. As we all were travelling back the next day we knew it we will bump into again. Mika , her guide and I were in the same flight so I was bit relived. Saying bye to Karmaji was bit hard. He was tough guy but he always around giving me advise like second day “they might ask you to sit back” on second day, “Dont stay up late, go to bed, lock your door” when the Israelite’s were playing music loudly. He was old school guy but a good one. You should definitely hire him(I have his number, buzz me off).

As I stepped into the hostel I met many people whom I was acquainted in Pan gong, Nubra Valley. There was one last place I had to visit. I called the taxi and I was on my way to Shanti Stupa. 

It is really beautiful, peaceful except for annoying tourist.

One last night in Leh Market.

To Be Continued

Hostel was too perfect to complain , perfect place to meet fun loving strangers

Karmaji showed finger far across and said “that is silk road, Chinese used to use that road in olden days for trading”

Petrol Pump

Bingo!!!Traffic Jam

Stuck in traffic was wondering how to kill time when my eyes fell on her and I fell in love with her in no time.

Little Rock star. When the van came from other side, I helped her get in bidding my farewell. Dont know why my eyes were misty, she was just too perfect.

When its super sunny ,the ice melts down and water flows down to the road. Making difficult to drive.

“Alert Today Alive Tomorrow”

“East or West safe driving is the Best”

“Check your nerves on my curves”

Pangong

Thanks to “3 Idiots” bollywood movie, Pangong is famous. Most of the tourist want to sit on this yellow scooty and reminisce ending scene from the movie. Its painful to watch though!!

The famous 3 butts

We dropped others near by homestay, “come back if the place not that great” Mika said saying good night, she was very kind. Karmaji stopped the Xylo near Padmas guest house, our destination. The owner was very friendly and warm. Sharmaji, the cook, gave a lock and key in my hand “lock whenever you go out, all rooms are occupied”.I got to know few Israelite were staying in one room and Koreans in other.I bumped into them on couple of occasions but we never spoke. Tired I hit the bed around 10, Israelite were playing their drums , singing some song which was anything but soothing.

Far away from home, away from my comfort zone I was finally enjoying the so called “Travelling”, how I wish I could this for living. Staying in not so fancy places, meeting strangers, talking to few once in a while, meeting the localities, understanding their culture, language, respecting their sentiments yes, I was enjoying it, every bit of it. “Open mind” that’s what I had with no expectations.

To Be Continued

When I was up next morning most of my trek mates had left, except for Sara. A feeling of void was creeping in after so many days of fun. Sara and I were having breakfast, the remaining food instead of throwing she packed it and gave one pack for and another she carried for her journey. I was pretty impressed. She is such a darling, she gave me some of her fancy stuff and said “here you go darling will be handy for you”. She even gave me one of her favorite special dark chocolate which I ate after coming back to Bangalore. I had kept it in mt fridge for her remembrance. 

“Staying back?Travelling alone?” my trek mates weren’t impressed when I had told them that I wont be flying back immediately. I dont know what had got into me but yes I wanted to explore on my own like a hippie carrying my bag just before I get little old”.

Saying bye to Sara was hardest thing, she had always looked out for me, a total stranger not that I wanted any care taking but still.

Rigzen drop me back to hostel which was filled with new strangers. As I was planning to visit Nubra Valley and Pangong , very popular places cramped with tourist I was on my way to get the permit.  Once I got my permit, I explored the Leh Market some more.

As this time I had taken women dormitory, met few strangers but no one like Ladina who had explored world and had story to tell.

As I waited for my shared ride, a Xylo showed up with a short man in the driving seat. He was all serious and not smiling at all. “You can sit front today but may be tomorrow you have to sit back”. I was lucky as I was the first pick up. Later we picked up a married couple and a South African exploring Leh with her guide, my companions for 3 days. 

There is always a queue if you want to click any pictures and if you want it without human in it you have to be just lucky.

I waited patiently counting every second when they all disappear. Kindly avoid tourist season if you are visiting Leh, its super annoying.

This dude mistook it to “My adventure is my daily routine”. How I prayed that he falls down with a “thud” like a ripped open jack fruit. 

You can find many hundreds of stupid Indian tourist. I was and am still a exception 🙂 

As I said you can find them everywhere.

BIKERS, you can find them everywhere. Road, the dust, the weather, the curves are meant for bikers.

View from the toilet window 🙂 

This is where we had our lunch

Leh roads have super cool road signs.

Water falls.

Photo bombing the perfect picture

Way to Diskit Monastery, Nubra

Beautiful Buddha was glancing at us from far away.

Closer Look

The gigantic, magnificent Buddha.

Nubra Valley

As I said many hundreds of tourist.

Finally, I could click one decent pick without tourist spoiling it.

Bikers, they are everywhere

Picture Perfect

Roads, they always call you

Nubra Valley, desert festival

https://snlworld.com/2019/07/21/desert-festival-nubra-valley/

https://snlworld.com/2019/07/21/mok-mok-in-making/

Isn’t he a cutie

Anything for my blog

Quick nap before the ride

I am a free bird, I am your democratic candidate.

Bruce:”Hows your ride?”

Russel:”Sucked, basta***** kept on rubbing his feet on my stomach”

John:”Nothing can be worst than me,the guy kept on farting, worst than Zora”

Zora:”Did someone mentioned my name?!” and the round table conference of camel went on and on 

“Oh yeah, little further, yes, there, right there scratch it baby”

My moma says I need to chew my food,I make sure I chew my food very well, once right

And once left

“Pumpkin, where are you”

“Here I come mother”

“Where were you?”

“I was just looking around and trying to understand these funny creatures called humans with two legs. Can we ever get a chance to ride them like how they ride us?”

“Now listen pumpkin, there is nothing to know about them, they are stupidest idiotic creatures ever born on this earth. And about riding, we better off without riding them”.

Hey yo, have you seen my spikes?

Desert festival was winding up when we left. After dropping my other companions, at near by fancy home stay, Karma sir and I went in search of “Himalayan Bunkers”,a hostel, our stay for the night.

It’s a fantastic place to stay, pocket friendly, cozy and lovely. When I stepped in the tent of 6 beds, my tent mates were all missing. I quickly freshened up, charged my phone(electricity is not available all the time),Its then my tent mates, all bikers walked in with their dirty clothes and stinking socks. They were all nice and talky. They went on talking about their Leh bike trip.

Its was 8:30PM and surrounding was warming up, there was a bonfire where all the bikers were shaking their hip to loud music, cracking some jokes and just chilling.

“Wow, why I didnt do this trip earlier?” Its total different when you are on your own, exploring new things in your crazy way. That’s when it hit me why people love travelling. I was just getting a hang of it little by little.

When I went back to my tent little later, one of my tent mate reading a book and other was sleeping. We stroked a conversation, talking about books, travel… Strangers as we meet, friends as we depart.

Days tiredness was wearing me off, slowly I drifted to sleep, listening to the music one side and water stream from other.

To Be Continued

The morning was pleasant not giving a trace of hard cold night. Sun was dancing in his usually glory like nothing has happened. We were happy because it was our last day of trek, away from civilization. All were looking forward for a hot shower and soft bed with a warm blanket. 

It was a crazy trail and Tiffin was unstoppable. He started walking and he never stopped.

Finally at the top, Kongmaru La, 17,100ft. One place where you can get the phone signal on this trek. Mind blowing scene from the top must say.

The descend was crazy and dangerous. One had to be very careful, one wrong foot and…