Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I never liked Autumn back in India. I really don’t know why!

The weather would play pranks, hot during the day and pretty much chilly at night. The monsoon showers would be a thing of the past. The leaves on the trees would simply fall off without any indication of ageing or changing of color. Laden with dust and pollutants, the leaves look a dull green/brown throughout the year (except during monsoons, when the dust washes off and we are blinded by  the beauty of the green underneath 🙂 ).

Autumn, or Fall as it is called here, is a delight to see 🙂 . The trees around have such bright shades. From burgundy red to fiery oranges to vivid yellows. Some trees hang on to the green and add that dash of charm to the palette. The trees outside my window are all yellow now. A shade so bright, I have never seen anything like it before. Within this week, they will turn brown and most probably, by next week, the trees would shed off their leaves. Then, the sight is pretty desolate 😦

Anyhow, on the outskirts of Chicago is an area called Lisle (pronounced ‘La-ill’) which is famous for its arboretum. Whats an arboretum, you may ask! And I’ll gladly reply – it is a tree museum.

Yup!

The Morton Arboretum is a famous tree museum where the motto is, “Plant Trees”. Seriously! Its that simple. Conceptualized by Joy Morton, the arboretum was first open to public in 1922. Since then, they have a massive collection of trees from all over the world! Apart from planting trees, the museum also does research on tree-growth factors, impact of pollution on trees and environmental benefits from different types of trees. Needless to say, the arboretum covers a whopping 1700 acres of land which is beautifully landscaped to showcase the trees. Please do check out the link.

Sunday was bright and sunny (which does NOT mean it was warm!), unlike the last two weeks before it and I decided to make the best use of it. It was also the last day of fall season, meaning, by now, 80 percent of the trees would have shed their leaves. Luckily, we were on time and got to see some really wonderful fall colours.

20141026_134335

Green, yellow and brown

20141026_142703

Maple patch

20141026_143059

love the contrast 🙂

20141026_164451

Orange and yellow

 

20141026_124028

My favorite 🙂

20141026_122228

Turning brown

It was a breathtaking experience. The beauty of nature is so powerful, I don’t have words to describe the sights 🙂

For once, I rued not getting a decent camera along for the trip 😦

The twins enjoyed the trip, not because they felt very close to nature and all that jazz but because they had their friends along with them and all they appreciated was the vast expanse of ground where they could run to their heart’s content 😀 (and also climb trees!)

 

Lui on top

Lui on top

Shobby trying his best :)

Shobby trying his best 🙂

Clicking pictures of the trees was a piece of cake compared to clicking snaps of the kids! They were so pumped up with adrenaline that we barely got a couple of decent shots in which none of them was moving (whew!). We had a great time, albeit a tiring one. By the time we got back home, it was 9pm and we could barely eat dinner before crashing out!

And ohh! The BF could not accompany us for the trip, but he had the most amazing Maggi, hot and ready for us when we got back. And he also had  hot tea ready for me 🙂 .

( Tired out by the long journey, legs throbbing with all the walking we did and throat sore from yelling after the kids throughout the day, I realized in that one moment, once again, why I love this man so much!! )

Winter is around the corner and it is just a matter of days when everything will be covered in white! I’ll miss these wonderful colors then 😐

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In Chicago!

So! After a long hiatus which saw plenty of ups and downs, I’m finally back on the blog. Though I want to get into details, this will be a short post with a summary of my trip to Chicago.

The last few months have been nothing but crazy. I quit work (I mean, I took a long break again and in the bargain jeopardized any chance of a favourable appraisal or promotion anytime in future).  The BIL got married, the BF fell terribly ill in his short stay and in the flurry of rushing him to and fro from the hospital, we missed out on inviting many people for the wedding 😦 . The week after the wedding was spent in attending lunches and dinners by relatives to welcome the new bride and to bid us goodbye.

Whew!

Suddenly, it was time for us to leave and I still hadn’t packed ! Mom came to the rescue. Being an expert packer, she managed to squeeze all of our stuff into four big and four small bags. Considering we are going for a possibly long term, the BF was impressed that we weren’t carrying the entire house 🙄

(There’s a LOT I forgot to pack though 😦 . Hopefully, the stuff I left back isn’t critical to our stay here! )

Farewell was tough 😦

Though I was excited, there was a lot I was leaving behind and that made me feel rather heavy. Mom and MIL were in tears and though the FIL kept a gruff exterior we knew he was crushed inside. His most adorable grandchildren were going away……and we have no clue when we will be back!

We took the road to reach Mumbai airport where we realized that ………

Immigration sucks!

I think my heart goes out to all those people who travel frequently. Waiting long hours for immigration check not only tested our patience, but even the twin’s ! On their part, though it was late at night, the two kept up their good spirits and complied with moving along the queue at snail’s pace. Security check was another bummer 😦

Once inside the plane, Lui was upset that we didn’t get a window seat. Eventually, she gave in to routine and went off to sleep. Shobby enjoyed the cartoons playing on the in-flight entertainment system. He even ate the snacks available 🙂
InFlight

(For some unknown reason, the snap above refuses to rotate right! ),

We reached Munich, local time around 5:30 in the morning. The next flight to Chicago was at 12:30 in the afternoon! We had nearly 6 hours to while away in a very deserted airport! But I must say, I saw some of the most stylish crowd in Munich. The BF had to remind me more than a couple of times to not stare at the women 😀 . The furs, the boots, the caps! The women, even at  that ungodly hour were dressed to the nines. Compared to them, I looked like a dump in my tracks, knotted hair and obviously, no make up 😦 .

AtMunich

At Munich airport

It was difficult to keep the kids occupied. The BF was still recovering from his ill-health and was in no condition to run after them.  The twins, on their behalf, behaved much better. We sat near the windows and counted the aeroplanes, told stories, ate candies and biscuits, ran along the huge passage way when there was no crowd and just tried to while away the time. Finally, after 6 long hours, it was time for us to board the flight to Chicago.

You know how people make fun of flight attendants on Air India? Well, the United Airlines’ Flight Attendants were no better. The women were definitely over 40 and not in the best of mood. One male attendant must have been in his late thirties, but the others were definitely pushing forty. And no, none of them were skinny. I was possibly thinner than a couple of them 🙂 . So no more jokes on Air India, okay?!

After a really long flight…must have been 9 hours, we finally arrived at O’Hare airport in Chicago where we had to suffer another long wait for immigration check. Though the twins were irritated, they behaved and didn’t throw a tantrum even though they were tired of walking along the queue. Frankly, it was smooth sailing with no hiccups and thanks to Mom’s packing, my fears of our ayurvedic medicines being confiscated, were put to rest 😀 . We were cleared to go and were welcomed by the coldest blast of frigid air when we stepped out. So we stepped right back in 😀

The BF went out to book us a taxi, while I made sure that the twins were bundled up properly once again. I am used to snow as I have spent my early childhood in Kashmir. The cold air wasn’t a surprise to me . But to the kids, it sure was ! The minute Shobby was outside, he started shaking like a leaf! Lui handled the cold much better I think. Both were over-awed with the snow….their first time ever 🙂

We took a cab to the apartment. The BF loaded our luggage on a cart and took us to his floor. We came in and dumped our luggage on the floor. The BF left us to return the cart back to the admin office. He must have gone for around five minutes. When he got back, he found three bodies lying on the carpeted floor. We had crashed out. It was around 5:30 pm local time.

Lui woke me up at 3:30 AM. She was hungry. Shobby was also up. So we all headed to the kitchen to find something. The BF, God bless him, had stocked up the refrigerator with the essentials. We had bread and butter, a safe dish to eat at odd hours 🙂 . The BF woke up too, he couldn’t sleep with all the noise the twins were making.

It took us a week to get back into our normal day-night cycle! I had heard about jet lag but experiencing it first-hand was a different thing altogether 🙂 .

I am slowly getting used to this place. The twins are yet to start school (we are still hunting for something close to our place). At times, I take the twins out for a short walk, just to let them get them get the hang of the weather. Spending too much time at home isn’t good for little kids ! Thankfully, the two are in good spirits, the LOVE the snow and love going out (all bundled up of course). The only problem lies in the effort to get dressed for going out! The layers of clothing, outerwear, jackets, boots, gloves, ear-muffs, Whew! Its tiring just to get dressed!

First walk in the snow

First walk in the snow

In their new winter-wear

In their new winter-wear

It is week 2 in Chicago and I think I am more or less adjusted. The people are friendly and courteous, I know the relevant stores around our place and though this place is expensive, I’m slowly letting go of mentally converting everything to rupees and gasping at the rates. My breathing, Alhamdulillah, is pretty normal when I shop now 😀

I’m in downtown Chicago, so if there is any reader here who knows this place, do drop by and say hello. You are all welcome 🙂

Cheers,

Note : I am really sorry for the hiatus. There was a lot happening back home and at the end of each day, I just ran out of steam and didn’t have the heart to sit and do a post. Many of you messaged me, commented on posts and asked if everything was okay. I’m sorry that I could not even reply to those comments. Sincere apologies 😦

But I am back and intend to be here more often 🙂 . Looking forward to hearing from you all once again. Love you 🙂

Read Full Post »

I’m Around!!

Hey!!

Its been rather silent around these parts lately, hasn’t it??

Well, I have a bit of good news and bad news. Good news is that I’ll be back to blogging shortly (thanks to all of you who called, mailed and messaged me about the absence). Bad news is that my visa is still under processing and I’m still on Indian soil. So yeah, those of you wondering if my feet have left the Indian shores, I’m sorry to say, I’m still here.

Life’s good, the BF was in Pune for a brief vacation, which got extended due to unavoidable circumstances. He is back in US, minus the wife and kids and we are back to pining for him. Ho hum 😦

I’m currently on vacation, just spent a week in Tamil Nadu and will be spending another week in Bangalore. A detailed travelogue is due and I really will publish it all with the details……once I’m back in Pune.

Till then, leaving you with a few snaps of the awesome vacation till now.

DSCI0868

With Dad,at a fishing village near Pondicherry

DSCI0878

Playing in mud and sand at an aunt’s backyard.

DSCI0887

Running away from the waves 🙂

DSCI0895

Lui being led into the sea by a relative.

I promise to be good and post more often now 🙂

Have fun, people.

Read Full Post »

Winter in Pune, is a joke 😐 . Not a typical ‘HAHA’ joke, per se, but a ridiculous one where you eagerly pull out woolens from boxes, sun them and then wait patiently till the weather is cool enough to use them. And then you sit back and twiddle your thumbs, waiting for the cold winds to blow your way.

The weather, alas, has other plans. So while the Northern region of the country freezes away to glory, the twins at home refuse to wear a shirt over their vest, claiming it to be ‘too hot’. The fan whirls at a nice speed as we sleep in the night, justifying, somewhat, the need to use a blanket (forget the heavy ‘razai‘ !).

Winter hasn’t technically arrived yet and I have already packed my woolies back in their boxes. Maybe next year, I will give them all away to charity.

Anyhow, so desperate was I for hint for chapped skin and dry lips that the BF obliged and took us to the nearby hill-station of Mahabaleshwar – the land of the Strawberry goodness 🙂 . This was couple of weekends back. We just decided on the spot, packed our bags, fished for a few woolens for the kids and set off. I had just picked jackets for the twins but the BF suggested that Mahabi (as Mahabaleshwar is lovingly called) is a LOT cooler than Pune. With a hum and a haw I packed two sweaters too. Okay, on a side note, believe this – I packed clothes for me, the BF and two kids, with two sets of changes in one ruck-sack. I’m smug as I type this, because before this, each time I stepped out of the house, even for a day, I would carry at least 4-5 sets each for the kids, with towels, napkins, jackets, etc. Not this time. I kept it to a minimum, with just another hand-bag with the edibles. Thats it. With two bags in hand, we set off. The BF was mighty impressed with the limited luggage (He wasn’t so impressed the next day when he found that I’d forgotten his change of inners 😐 !! Oh well….we’re learning, aren’t we?!)

So we started not-so-early on Saturday, had a nice 3 and an half hour pleasurable ride through beautiful hills and fields. We crossed the picturesque town of Wai, famous for many movies (Swades, Bol Bachchan, Gangajal, etc). We didn’t stop there though. The ghat stretch was pretty treacherous with sharp bends and we wanted to reach Mahabi before the traffic got worse.  Once we hit Mahabi, we visited the Mapro Garden. I think it is a popular destination for food/ice-creams (served with fresh strawberries)/ candies, syrups, squashes/jams/honey, etc. Though Lui had a bad cough, she kicked up a big fuss when we refused her the ice-cream. When she started screaming blue murder, we gave in and got her a cone. “She won’t be able to finish it”, the BF told me. Knowing my girl, I should have bet him on it. She finished it without a care about the world. I mentally thanked myself for remembering to ger her cough syrup along!

IMG00251-20130105-1150

Shobby wouldn’t allow me to click his snap, behaving like a celebrity caught in the vicious circle of paparazzi. After a few snaps of him covering his face, I gave up 😦 .

The Mapro farm had put up a big trampoline inside their premises. There were a bunch of kids already going bonkers on it. I was a little apprehensive, what if someone lands on them?! But then, the kids seemed excited and we dumped them on the trampoline.

P1070967

P1070966

The twins had a blast, as you can see 😀 . Lui was annoyed when we pulled her out from there and started another tirade of rants. The BF quickly bought a big box of fresh strawberries from a counter outside and handed it to her. Thats it. The girl was on her best behavior throughout the trip. By the way, strawberries are her favorite fruit. She was overwhelmed at being given an entire box to herself, to eat as much as she wants. Believe me, she was so quiet afterwards that we wondered what was wrong with her 😀

We reached the MTDC resort by noon (why MTDC?? Because the Country Club membership is one the worst mistakes we’ve ever committed in our lives!! In spite of being members, in spite of paying the AMCs, we still have to inform months in advance even if we need to go on a short vacation of 2 days 😐 !! We tried to book the rooms in the Country Club resort around Nov/Dec. Even then, we were told that bookings weren’t available. Anyone know if we can get a refund from the CC guys?? )

Anyhow, the MTDC resort was pretty good too. Not luxurious, but serviceable, yes. We got a nice family suite with two rooms. At 1pm in the afternoon, the room was chill enough to freeze water. I’m not kidding. The mattresses were frozen blocks of ice! When we rested there for a while, no matter how much we rubbed our feet together, the bed wouldn’t thaw 😐 . Exactly what I wanted 😀

We ordered lunch, quickly gobbled the food and then contemplated the next step. I think an honest confession is due here. Neither the BF nor I am keen on walking long distances. We thought and we planned and then after much discussion resorted to taking a well-deserved nap after the long drive. So we all hit the bed.

I woke up the kids around 4pm. The MTDC resort is closet to the sunset point and I wanted to take the kids there. By now, there was severe chill in the air, even though it was sunny outside. The kids wore their sweaters and then the jackets over the sweaters! For kids running around in chaddi-banian at home, this was a major weather indicator 😀

P1070972

P1070973

I took the above two snaps while the kids were playing outside our rooms. Though there were two swing sets, the two settled into one 🙂

IMG00270-20130105-1808

IMG00261-20130105-1806

Don’t be fooled by the sun. It looks warm and sunny but it really wasn’t. It was COLD!!!

P1070988

P1070993

It was pretty cold at the sunset point. I thought it would be enjoyable, but ummm, frankly speaking, I wasn’t impressed. Towards sunset the crowd swelled to hundreds and before my very eyes, dry winter dust rose sky high and provided very little clear view of the sunset. It didn’t help that the horse-riders were galloping around, kicking up further dust! Before we knew it, the sunset was over. We trooped back to the resort. There, the twins spotted a complex set of slides and bridges and set off for it even before I could give my consent (not that they expected otherwise, but still. A mother ought to command some respect 😐 )

P1080015

After nearly an hour of play, we finally headed to the restaurant for dinner. It never struck any of us that we could take the car out and roam around the town streets, checking out their night-life 😐

Once back in our suite, I have the kids a nice hot water bath, bundled them in their pyjamas and sweaters and settled them to watch “Charlie and the chocolate factory”. Meanwhile, me and the BF took a leisurely stroll outside, reveling in the chilled air, the one which makes your insides shiver (bliss 🙂 ). Eventually, we saw the lights going off all around us, one by one. so we pulled out chairs and sat outside the room, chatting like we used to , a long time back. I think hours passed. Sure that it must be nearing 12:30 in the night, I asked the BF if we should go in.

“Its only 10:30 now”, he informed me.

“What?!!” I mean, it seemed like ages since we were sitting in the darkness. If it was still 10:30, what time did the people around us go off to sleep?? 8:30??!! Its an unthinkable hour, by our regular standards 😐

Anyhow, we called it a night . At least the BF did. I was busy finishing “the immortals of Meluha”. We woke up early the next morning. The BF had some work to attend to back in Pune, we wanted to be home by afternoon. On the drive back, we came across Venna lake. Lui and Shobby wanted to go boating, but he service hadn’t started yet. The BF was in a hurry so we kind of cajoled the kids into believing that only kids who can swim are allowed to go boating. My poor little angels for the fib 😦 . Though they agreed, Lui wasn’t happy about the whole deal, something that she made clear by pasting the biggest frown on her face when I asked them to pose for snaps! Shobbs had no qualms in smiling though.

P1080024

We made only one stop on the way back. Halfway through, we came across a nice stretch of farms and on one end was a stall selling sugarcane juice. Who could resist?? We bought 2-3 mugs of it. I asked the seller to add ginger to make it easily digestible for the kids. Alas, they hated the taste of it. But again, they had no problems posing for a snap 🙂 . Lui’s good mood was restored too.

P1080045

P1080042

We reached home by lunch time and after that, life was back to routine.

After reaching back,  I realized that we had crossed a major milestone. I rarely took the kids out for long drives before, bothered more about their toilet urges and not having proper facilities on the way. I wondered if the kids will fall sick, throw up and be miserable. I wondered if I would be able to manage them.

This trip was an eye-opener. I realized that my kids can control their urge until we reach back to our room. There were no accidents, no throwing up, no peeing on the bed and surprisingly, in spite of that big ice-cream, no coughing and fever from Lui. The kids have grown up, and how!

I feel useless 😦 . Drat them! Why couldn’t they have been the itty-bitty babies they were before 😦

*sniff*

 

 

Read Full Post »

Many moons ago, Dad was posted in Pune. It was a quaint Army establishment, about 20 km away from the main city, near the famous Khadakwasla lake and under the veritable shadow of NDA. The place was called Institute of Armament Technology, now called the Defense Institute of Advanced Technology.

DIAT

Dad was posted as the Chief Administration Officer, a profile which in common terms would be classified as Jack-Of-All-Trades. So apart from managing the infrastructure of IAT, dad was also much involved in settling squabbles, rehabilitating retired servicemen, touring the premises umpteen times a day and in general, getting on everyone’s nerves!! (hehe, just kidding Dad 😀 )

The weekend before Eid, me and the BF got an opportunity to drive down to Khadakwasla village. There is a quaint little Masjid there, the maulana of which used to teach us the Holy Quran. Every year, it is a ritual to visit the Masjid and hand over some Hadiya(gift) to the Maulana. Usually, we used to visit the place in the early days of Ramzan…alas , this time we were caught up with many other things and couldn’t make it until the last minute.

Now Khadakwasla is a good 20+ km from my place. A distance, which I usually never think of covering myself unless the BF is with me 🙂 . We did think of taking the kids along, but what with them being cranky the whole day and then dropping off to sleep just when we were planning on leaving, there was no option but to leave them behind. Also, since it was raining cats and dogs and their mamas and chachas, we thought it prudent to leave the kids back home (though we were travelling by car, the road to Khadakwasla is not known to be in the best of conditions…more so in the rains  !!).

It was a lovely drive….after simply ages, me and the BF were together without the noisy presence of the kids 😀 . We sang out loud, gossiped, called each other names and in general, had much more fun in that one hour than in the last 6 months !! Once we reached our destination, we met up with the maulana, handed over the Hadiya and then prepared for the long trip back since we wanted to get home before Iftaar time. Coming out of the tiny village, I had a whim and asked the BF if we could just take a short trip to IAT which was barely 500 metres away from where we had stopped. The BF obliged and we made the turn.

Now, IAT has two gates, one is the main gate which was a kilometer away and the other one was the smaller gate usually taken by residents of the bungalows in that section of IAT. When we used to live here, this gate was our regular route. So me and the BF made straight for the smaller gate. There were two security guards standing there, who on seeing us, instead of opening the gate, yelled at us to go back.

I was a little stunned at this reaction…but then realized that this was a defense establishment and given the current scenario, the security would be pumped up high. The older of the two guards, a man around 60 came up to us and sternly told us not to breach security. We were a bit indignant , because frankly, the way he said it , made it sound as though we were planning on running right through the gate !!

Anyhow, the old man came up to my window and this is how our conversation went :-

Old Guard (OG) : Gaadi peechhe lo. Gate ke itne paas mat aao. Aapko pata nahin hai kya, yeh defense establishment hai.

Me : (in all politeness) Haan pata hai. Hum yahan rehte the pehle.

OG : (looking even more guarded than before) Kahan??

Me : Yahin. P-9 bungalow mein. Mai Colonel Yasin ki beti hoon. Aap jaante hain unko?

OG : (looking suspiciously at me) Haan ….mai jaanta hoon unko….lekin unki beti to… (here he wags his index finger , a sign generally used to denote the slimmer side of things)

Me :  (smiling politely while jabbing my elbow into the BF’s ribs to stop his mirthful giggling) Haan..unki teen betiyaan hai. Mai sabse chhoti hoon. Aap meri behen ko jaante hai….

OG : (breaking into a smile finally ) Arre haan…unki yahan shaadi hui thi na?! Hum aaye the. Sahab ne bulaya tha.

Me :  (totally amazed) Aapko shaadi yaad hai?!

OG :  (grinning happily) Ji haan. Hum logoen ko sir ne khud invite kiya tha. Aisa kijiye, waise to yahan se andar jaana allowed nahin hai….par aapko andar kaam kya hai??

Me : Mujhe apne husband ko hamara purana ghar dikhana hai. Bas 2 minute lagenge.

OG : Achcha theek hai. Lekin please aap jaldi aao.

Me : Zaroor. Thank you.

The OG opened the gate for us and we cruised in. A couple of minutes of silence later, during which we were busy absorbing the beauty of the place, the BF finally piped, “He remembers your dad!!”. I just smiled on smugly 🙂

We made a small trip around  the place…..went to the bungalow where I used to live and where the BF used to drop by once in a while for group study during college days 🙂 . Okay, so we weren’t really truthful when we told the guard that I wanted to show the BF my house. The husband had been to this place ages ago and loved it just as much as I did. That’s the reason we planned to drop by again. Those were wonderful days and it was great to relive it once again.

While on the way back, the OG rushed to open the gates for us once more. I rolled down the window to thank him. He just saluted us with a big grin and told me, “Sahab ko bolna, hum unko abhi bhi yaad karte hain. Kabhi Pune aaye, toh IAT zaroor aane bolna”.

I replied back in the affirmative and we made our way back home.

For a long while, we were silent, both of us ruminating over the past 15 minutes.

After a while, the BF broke the silence, “You know….I’ve been in this company for 5 years. Tomorrow if I leave this place and then come back after a year or so, probably no one will ever remember me”.

“Same here “, I replied glumly.

“You dad was here for only 3 years, yet 11 years later, people still remember him”.

“Hmmm”.

“That is some reputation, I say”.

“Truly”.

*Silence*

“We’ve got a long way to go”, says the BF.

And I realized he wasn’t just talking about the way back home 😐



Read Full Post »

Yeh Leh – Part III

(….Contd from Part-II)

 

Day11: Monday July11, 2011:

Snow capped peaks

Prabul reached us at 9 AM. He started early despite fever & we owe him for that. We packed and departed Leh around 11 AM. Kashmir, here we come! Or so we thought. End of day, we could only reach Kargil! Ate delicious Kashmiri Wazwan and a shopkeeper narrated stories of the infamous 1999 Kargil War. Amazing to note, the town bounced back into a major commercial center, despite being ruined during the war! Nothing special about this day, except that I felt I was riding through history. Nice feeling.

 

Day12: Tuesday July12, 2011:

Rugged, rugged terrain!!

 Left Kargil at 9 AM after a local tea & breakfast. Rode past Drass around 11 AM. Stopped at the Drass War Memorial. The highlight this day was – a sign just after  Kargil town  that says “You are under enemy observation”. The place is called Sando Top, from where you can see Pakistan Army posts AND THEY CAN BLOODY WELL SEE YOU! We didn’t have the guts to stay and find out. Rode like hell out of that place 🙂

War memorial

Crossed Fotu_La, the highest point on the Leh – Srinagar road. Rode on to cross Zoji_La, one of the most treacherous roads on that stretch. At one point, you can see the base camp of pilgrims heading to Amarnath (place called Baltal). Reached Pahalgam for lunch and left from there at 3 PM. Reached Srinagar, the paradise on earth at 6 PM. Found a place to crash. Freshened up, rode out to the town, did some shopping. You’d be surprised; the night-life in Srinagar extends up to at-least 12 mid-night (unlike Bangalore where the cops insist you sleep at 11 PM). We learnt that next day, Martyr’s Day was being observed & that we were actually living in the middle of the hottest spot in Srinagar (called Lal Chowk). We decided to crash early & leave early the next morning. Ate the best Chicken dishes on this side of the equator 🙂

 

Day13: Wednesday July13, 2011:

Shikara on the Dal lake

Left early around 6 AM, only to run smack into a CRPF check-post. The soldiers were friendly, but wary of us as there was hardly anyone else on the road. A bandh had been declared and there was cops/CRPF/Army everywhere. We had to prove our credentials to be let thru. We asked if we could see Dal_Lake, they said “go ahead, at your risk :)”. We did a quick visit to the lake which was surprisingly bustling with people, early morning walkers & tourists. Strange! We lingered for some time, shot some pictures & then rode. We hoped to reach Pathankot via Jammu that day. Road out of Srinagar is beautiful, all the way to Jammu. Only glitch, it is 100% twists & turns, which can be very painful for the wrists & shoulders. Rode thru the Banihal_Tunnel & landed at Patnitop for tea at 4 PM. This being a tourist spot, we were mobbed by locals & tourists, asking about our ride and how adventurous it was. Refreshed and rode again, only to reach Udhampur at 6. By then, shoulders & arms were paining a lot. Saddle felt like we’re sitting on a bed of pine-cones. Still we had a destination to get to. We decided not to take the NH as traffic would be high. We took the State Highway, with the plan to halt at Samba for the night. Man Proposes… We don’t know when we crossed Samba. It was dark already. Reached a crossroad where a small tea shop owner insisted that we freshen up before he answered any queries. He also knew we were LOST! After 2 cuppa each, he gave us directions. We rode the rest in pitch dark conditions, with only headlights to guide and taillights to follow. Dinesh led us thru the darkness, not because he was a messenger from God, but because he had the best headlamp 😀  We landed at a JKTDC guest house at Kathua, still 45 kms short of Pathankot. It was already 9.30 PM, but fortunately they had a lovely restaurant open till 11. We don’t recall when we slept.

Towards Patnitop

 

Day14: Thursday July14, 2011:

Woke up to realize it had been raining the whole night. It was still raining as we rode out at 9 AM (BIG MISTAKE!!!). For the next 5 hours, till we crossed Jalandhar, it was raining. I can proudly say, that was my biggest rain ride. I can also say I have weathered many a storm! 🙂  With water inside the shoes, pants and everything else, it became even more tiring. When the sun came out, we were pretty close to Ambala. We were also pretty close to the end of our endurance. Sheer exhaustion and severe saddle sore doesn’t listen to any reasoning. The milestone said – New Delhi – 200 kms. My sore posterior said “Forget it”. Fortunately, others agreed and we packed up at Ambala! Found a GATI store to ship our beloved bikes back, we would get them in our parking lot only after 5 days . Found a room to party our successful ride & slept.

 

Day15: Friday July15, 2011:

Wished bye-byes and good luck to Dinesh who had to ride all the way to Ahmedabad. Prabul & I took a BUS to Delhi & a flight back home. Was home at 10 PM. Another dull day… Back to the daily grind… hmmm 🙂

——————————————-

Thanks Bro, for sharing all this 🙂

As usual, I can do nothing but envy him!! I married a man who doesn’t have an inch of adventurous bone in him 😦 , so my chances of ever visiting such lovely places comes down by 50%!! BUT! Hope persists and InshaAllah, one fine day, I might just take off to such places myself 🙂 (a girl can dream, cant she 😉 )

AND, since I love drooling over those lovely sights, I’m gonna post some more pics here –

Pangong!!

 
 Somehow, I just cant get enough of this lake!!

Crystal clear water !Awesome 🙂

Sparkling Beauty!!



Read Full Post »

Yeh Leh – Part II

(….Contd from Part-I)

The road, the road!!

Day6: Wednesday July6, 2011:

We were already on the road for 5 days & still more than 250 kms from Leh. Mind you, in those terrains, each km feels like a long long road 🙂 . Determined to reach Leh that evening, we started from Sarchu at 6 AM. I rode despite severe AMS, but like someone said, once on the bike, a different person takes over. Went up the fabulous Gata Loops & Nakeela Pass. Reached Pang, doing 88 kms in just about 4 hours! Had breakfast & I passed out again for 15 minutes 🙂 . Just after Pang, we hit upon the famous More plains! Only 5 odd kms of smooth roads, followed by 40 odd kms of hell! Sand, dust, broken roads… no words to describe. Crossed Bharatpur (a 5 tent settlement), and hit Tanglangla. This is the world’s second highest motorable road. Despite all the above, we reached Leh at 6 PM. 250 kms in 12 hours… hmm. Civilization was a welcome sight after all the barren landscapes we passed that day. We found a small guest house, I met a doctor to take care of the AMS & crashed for the night. Mind you, still no bath 😀

 

Day7: Thursday July7, 2011:

Woke up next morning to discover my friends had already arranged for permits, but it would take a day. Took a hot water bath (Yes Finally!) Dressed up & started discovering that mystical land – Leh. Visited the starting point of Sindhu river, followed by Shey Palace. Visited my dad’s old regiment that was posted in Leh then. The Commanding Officer, Second-In-Command and all Officers greeted us and hosted a wonderful lunch for us. Being Army Officers, they wondered why civilians like us would spend so much money, efforts & pains to visit places where they get posted as a norm! 😀 .  Their beer mugs had to be seen to be believed! Left the regiment & visited the War Museum. This place had a collection of the most turbulent times of the Ladakh region & it’s history, pre & post independence. Including pictures, biographies & stories of all wars fought, all the Gallantry award winners & more. To go thru that museum would be a day’s visit, we got thru in 1 hour. A very memorable visit indeed. Rode back to Leh.

Day8: Friday July8, 2011:

Move away!! Lemme see the lake !!

With permits in hand, we rode towards the lake made famous by the Bollywood movie – 3 Idiots. Riding in -3 degree centigrade, past the Changla_pass, we reached Pangong_Tso around lunch time. What a sight! The beauty of the lake cannot be described, in words, in pictures, nothing. You have to see that place to believe it. The colors of the hills surrounding the lake & the water itself changes with each passing cloud. Spent a good 3 hours there. Left at 3 PM and reached Leh again at 8 PM.

Pangong lake

 

Day9: Saturday July9, 2011:

Khardung-La!!

Dinesh’s Birthday! The other riders had a plan in mind. Started late from Leh around 11 AM to conquer the official HIGHTEST MOTOR ABLE ROAD IN THE WORLD – Khardung_La! A distance of only 39 kms from Leh, this was soon to turn into our worst nightmare! The road to South Pullu, 25 kms from Leh was nice, the only problem being rain, snowfall & fog. Nearing this place, we could not feel our fingers & toes. Only heat available was – hold your bike’s silencers! Made it to South Pullu, where the Army served us hot lemon tea & Momos! Nothing tasted better in the world then! They even allowed us to shove our hands into the kitchen stoves to warm up! Had a quick debate about whether to return to Leh & return the next day better prepared, or battle-on, risking AMS & frostbite. The temperature then was already in the negative. Khardung-la that day was -10 degree centigrade! The first idea was thrown out the door. We rode on the remaining 14 kms of non-existent roads and reached K-Top at 3 PM. SUCCESS! The feeling of riding up to the highest motor able road in the world – Priceless! Spent 30 minute at the highest cafeteria in the world, bought stuff from the highest Souvenir shop in the world and YES, celebrated Dinesh’s birthday, the highest birthday in the world! 🙂 Rode back and reached the warm climes (relatively!) of Leh around 6 PM.

A Happy Birthday indeed 🙂

 

Day10: Sunday July10, 2011:

Age is catching up with me, fast 😐 ! Body refused to listen. Dinesh & I decided to stay back & do some lazy shopping in Leh, while Prabul decided to take a crack at the unofficial HIGHEST MOTOR ABLE PASS in the world – Marsimik-La. Feel real proud to say he made it! Kudos buddy, that is something not everyone achieves! We spent the day lazing around Leh town, buying knick-knacks for loved ones back home. Prabul called around evening and informed us he had taken sick around Pangong lake and was staying back there for the night. We were worried, but hoped he would be fit to reach us next morning.

Not everything in Leh is grey and brown and white!

 

(To be continued....)

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: