Posted: August 18, 2019 in I Got Leh'd

I was up quite early the next day, thanks to my current job, I am a fucking rooster no matter where I go. Night wasn’t that bad and luckily I didn’t have the agonizing headache. Dhruvin was up already and packing, he was going sightseeing in a shared taxi. After freshening up and not to forget after pooping(it’s a biggest achievement if you are able to poop in a brand new surrounding) I was getting ready, I had to check out from the hostel and meet up with my trek group, at a homestay round the corner. On my way out I happen to see Kelvin rushing to the washroom in nothing but his black underwear. I know it’s no big deal, at least not for foreigners but for most of us Indians hmmm… “Good Morning”, I gave him a broad smile, you see it was a beautiful, scratch that, it was a heavenly day. “Good Morning “, he said giving his morning lazy smile. Darn I love hostels.

Having breakfast with Ladina made me realize she is an encyclopedia, she had so much to share and I there was so much I wanted to listen to, nothing she said seemed dull or boring, everything was just fascinating, a riveting account of her life. Through our conversations she implied she wasn’t the same with everyone, meaning I was among the chosen few and I couldn’t be happier. After bidding farewell to Ladina and Gharghi, the one who assured me a woman can travel solo in Leh, I was on my way to the homestay where my other trek members were waiting. I got a ride from a guy who had studied in Bangalore. He explained to me the good work he is doing for Ladhki’s, like counselling and stuff. He wasn’t ready to take money and but I wasn’t in for a free ride either.

Meeting Renu and Sarah, our gorgeous ladies from the trekking group changed my perspective towards life. This was my first time meeting them but thanks to the WhatsApp group, all 9 of us felt like we had known each other for ages, specially the gorgeous ladies. With their incredible wit and wisdom, they kept the group alive. Renu’s audio message on what to pack and her comprehensive view on just about anything trek related was so impressive, it simply blew my mind.

When I saw Renu and Sarah I was dumbstruck. They were so graceful, vivacious and just easy to be around with. Their down to earth attitude caught my heart and in absolutely no time we hit it off.

Just a while later we went on a brisk walk, on the way posing of pictures, click some, talking about this and that, turning the prayer wheel and swallowing lot of dust, just creating memories. When the sun started to burn our skin we decide to walk back, just then a white SUV stopped by, windows rolled down in style and a lady in yellow sweater politely asked  “Do you ladies need a drop? ” like how it happens in movies. Without a second thought we hopped in and it turned to be quite an exhilarating ride. The ladies conversed between themselves while I sat there listening in, all the while coughing up dust. With my limited abilities to listen in, all I could gather was, the  lady was a local celebrity of sorts and her name was Geethanjali. She dropped us in the market and suggested a good restaurant for lunch.

Renu and Sarah were college friends and had known each other practically their whole lives, they were the true ‘besties for life’ I would say. Even though we had bit of an age gap I never felt out of place . They were super affectionate and so easy-to-talk to, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have them as my trek partners . After having lunch, Ladhak’s local food, we walked around in the market, picked souvenirs and then got going, we had a trek briefing scheduled at around 4 back at the homestay , time when we would final meet the whole trekking group face to face.

After quick power nap we assembled in a common area. Our trek Leader Pawan and Trek Guide Rigzon were already there, eyeing us, doing a mental calculation whether they could carry if we fall on the trail. Funny but strict, the two started the trek briefing, explaining about do’s and don’ts while we all listened. Unlike my previous trek group, this was a fun group most of them in their mid-40s except for few young chimps in late 20’s and mid 30’s. Looking at the group I hoped when I hit that age I would be as fit and jovial as these guys were. “The Tiffin” already cracked us up with his stories. Subhash’s stupid jokes, Raju’s cute smile, Mouuli’s dumbness, Chandhar and Srikanth’s wise discussion and not to forget our gorgeous ladies “Pee-in-pants” jokes I couldn’t have asked for a better trek group. As Rigzon had to organize things for our trek which was supposed to start the day after tomorrow, he left early, but not without a word of warning – “be ready and well prepared for the upcoming trek” and of course a sweet farewell.

Pawan was still with us, explaining what can happen in the mountains if we don’t listen to him. Finally when he left it was 6. As we had to do last minute shopping and get the fitness certificate from a doctor, we hit the road in Tanis taxi, a cab driver whose number we saved from noon’s trip.

“Jullay” , ladhaki way of saying “hi”

I wished everyone who would take a little trouble of giving us a warm little smile, an experience you never have in big cities.

The evening consisted of me giving gyan to Mouli on punctuality while we were separated from our herd, looking for the group, more gyan to Mouli, final finding the group, doctors fitness report and last minute shopping followed by an amazing dinner. All 9+1(Mouli who joined our group previous day) of us seated across, chatting, passing the dishes, smiling on stupid, silly jokes, it was then that  I knew ,  I would be going back with more memories than I intend to, it’s probably true what they say , “The best things in life are the people we love, places we have been and the memories we make along the way”


                                                                                       To be continued… 

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