Sunday, August 13, 2006

Who cares how the crow flies?

Okkkkay, so that's not an original line - It was part of a print ad for the Yamaha R1 that I once came across (the print ad, not the Yamaha R1, though I wouldn't mind coming across that, either), and the accompanying photograph showed a nice, winding mountain road with hairpin bends and stuff that bikers dream of. And that's how you feel when you go beyond the Rohtang pass, and into the barren, sparsely-populated, winding road that loops and stretches for over 400 kms over mountains and plains, leading to Leh.

Aaanyways, all you people who've been under the impression that I've been bumming it out in Leh all this while, nopes, so you can stop turning green. We left sometime around mid-june, and returned early in the first week of July. Since then it's just been backlog, backlog, and backlog, which, when combined with general laziness, results in no new posts on the blog. So, those of you who do visit this blog after all this time, really sorry, folks, and thanks for returning.

Now, I'm not much for writing travelogues, but I do have a few stories to tell, and hopefully I will get off my lazy behind and put up some of them here. In the meantime, I thought I'd dust off the cobwebs from this page, and give you people a taste of the place.

But first, a shot of my trusty steed, which has been my sole companion for the past five years, including this bone-jarring ride:

Yep, that is masking tape on the tank. Apart from that, and apart from the chain guard falling off, and the engine stalling right in the middle of an ice-cold puddle on the return trip, it was fine. Really.

Now, some of the general scenery there, which was, to put it mildly, breathtaking. For two reasons:
(a) There was too much to handle - deep blue skies, stark, rugged mountains, a river/gorge/desert suddenly springing up around the bend... a man can only take so much, y'know.
(b) We hit altitudes of upto 18,000 feet, and the oxygen content gets a little low.

I took this snap at Tikse Gompha. Gompha, I believe, stands for Monastery. The first time I went there, I almost had a whaddyoucallit sort of encounter. Bachha and I were climbing the stairs, cursing the thin air under whatever breath we had left, when an old lama, coming from the other direction looked at me and exclaimed, "You! I see you before!"

I was amazed. I'm not very good with faces, but I believe I would remember my first encounter with a lama. This guy is going to tell me I was a fellow-lama in my previous life, I thought. No wonder I've always wanted to stay in a monastery. That explains my shaolin temple fixation, too! Now it all makes sense. And the-

"I see you at Yak-Tail hotel this afternoon!"

And my semi-spiritual experience came to a grinding halt.

The monk in the snap is not the old monk (oh, ha, ha, you alcoholics), but another monk, another day, when I went back to Tikse.

Right-ho. Now that I've broken the block, I shall be back more frequently, with more photos. I go sleep now, yes please.


penguininthesun said...

Great shot. I like your blog headline btw... I think therefore..

Senthil said...

Penguin: Whoops, I think you saw my test pic up there... sorry, and thanks!

shrik said...

Who cares where you copy your blog titles from? You're back in Blogland, yay!

zaph said...

hey did you stay at Yak Tail? Brings back memories from ages ago. Way back in 1992 when I visited Ladakh that's where i'd stayed.

Swathi said...

visiting ur blog after eons n i like what i see...

RJ said...

Another amazing post!Have read all your posts atleast once and to put it mildly,am hooked.

Razdan said...


If there was one more motivation I needed to go up to Ladakh, you have just provided that last straw!

Next summer trip is going to see me there.

Take care,

Megha said...

The burning question of the moment though is - while you were there, did you have the opportunity to launch into the Hasan Jehangir song written for this very occasion? -

Leh bhi leh, dil tu mera, o jaaneman

If not, then shame on you and you really ought to be making a second trip.

Awesome shot! Please to post more such respiratory-trouble-inducing pictures for our pleasure?

Ram said...

dude, this is a selfish post.
I want that snap - digitally sign it whatever. I want to use it on my Dell 1685x1024 monitor wallpaper ? I love love love it!

Infact, I am going to tag my blog with some buddhist saying.

Senthil said...

Shrik: Thankoo, thankoo!
Zaph: Yep, Yak Tail it was! Loved the hotel. It's supposed to the oldest hotel in Leh, right? And back in '92? Wow, things must've been pretty different back then... I bet there weren't many German Bakeries back then.
Swathi, RJ: Thanks, people!
Razdan: Oye, kaisan ho? Yes, you should go there. And go there on bikes. The only way to travel.
Megha: Hahahaha! I knew I'd missed something out... and thanks, I shall try and sort out them pics and put up some more...
Ram: Aren't they all? :) You're the "big picture" man, eh? Heh, heh... anyways, when is the buddhist saying coming up on your blog? And hope you like the big pic.