Though one likes to run alone with the wind and wolves, once in a while, company is greatly appreciated. The Wall, flew down to Delhi and we chilled out for a couple of days ( meaning eat and packed, since I take forever) before leaving for Ladakh. Since, Ladakh has become a UT, for my project I needed to make pictures there but one’s body can’t withstand the high altitude, so my go to- ‘I get into trouble, you get me out of it’ man, gave me company. He adores kids and tends to hurt animals, so no guesses for figuring out how we tolerate each other. After two solo trips- once when I was in college and the other one in 2007, one hasn’t really been eager about visiting. The landscape is like I wrote in my diary then, ‘a mysterious lover’ but with age, lovers and especially mysterious ones have totally lost their ways with me. Now, one just longs for familiarity and grounding.
Anyhow, Life doesn’t unfold according to my plans. One may not be the fastest or the most skilled driver one knows but nevertheless, one is a relentless one. So, once one decides one is going somewhere, there are very few pit stops, it’s usually a ‘just let’s get there then we’ll rest’ kind of an attitude. The plan was to see if Google is right and I can drive 24 hours straight to Ladakh without, staying over. My assumption was I would reach Leh in 36 hours if not 24, since my companion can’t drive! Then we would go to a camping site in Nubra, since one has already been to Tsomoriri and Pangong, earlier.
Man proposes and God disposes. An hour from Delhi I concocted this plan and I said to my companion, ‘I think I’ll just keep driving, let’s just keep going. Mein kheech lunga’ and then from somewhere the words came out of my mouth- ‘ if God wants me to, then.’ I shit you not, it slipped out of my mouth, without me wanting to say it and by the clock within thirty seconds, the tempo infront of me came to a screeching halt and the car infront of it, did a J turn (180 degrees) and slammed right into the tempo, we were saved by the bell, in my head. Of all the things that scare me about myself- my temper being high up on the list, this is by far the scariest trait-sometimes, things slip out of my mouth right before they’re going to happen. Most people, flip backwards trying to figure out how I ‘get to know things’. I wish somebody would figure out- my body reads energy very quickly and goes into defensive mode, almost on cue.
The night proceeded just like the first omen, it poured profusely, the wiper broke…so the Wall, whose great under pressure and fabulous with his hands, fixed it, while getting drenched. We slept in the car for a few hours, drove the next day and reached, nowhere close to Leh! After 24 hours in the car, we decided to stay in Jispa, right at the border of Himachal Pradesh. One was glad for the rest, I may be nuts but the body is ageing, dude.
Nothing went according to plan is an understatement, we took one wrong turn and by the the time we figured it out we were on our way to Zanskar, instead of Leh! A biker convinced us, it was prettier, it didn’t occur to him, to inform us just how terrible the route was. By the time I figured it out, all I could do was yell, ‘air lift my car, I ain’t going to put it through this. It never troubles me, how can I do this to it?’ Other, than mumbling, ‘sorry baby…sorry baby…sorry baby’ as one drove through water and over boulders, through the narrowest roads…as one stopped to inhale oxygen and pee under the sky, one knew his plans unfold in mysterious ways. We visited places, we’d never heard of, slept on the ground, in a tent, in the middle of nowhere, saw the most spectacular night sky, studded with stars, gasped for air, almost collapsed, let go of the sadness that I’m told has engulfed me and eventually found our way back to what seems like ‘home’. Of course as soon as the air changed and one knew one had reached where one belonged, the smile returned, much to the amusement of my fellow traveller. There are many places, I need to be but there’s only one place, where pieces of me, lie hidden underwater. They bring me, home!