5 WTF Moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride

You read my Spiti Bicycle Ride Notes, your saw the photos; you liked it and appreciated it. Many thanks…

Now on a lighter note, here are my favourite WTF moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride.

1. 21kms for that 3kms We had taken a couple of days halt at Tapri; and at least I in my mind was relaxed because next day we had to cover only 25kms to reach Reckong Peo, of which only last 5kms is uphill. Rest all just a cruise parallel to the river.

But when we began this day, within exit of Tapri we saw a 21kms uphill diversion to Chooling due to landslide. Chooling my friends was just 3kms away from the diversion via the regular route.

For a mere 3kms we were off on a uphill path of 21kms.

WTF; Shoot me now.

2. Why Pedal Downhill! All this time we were enjoying whenever there was a downhill stretch. It was a moment to take a breather from the constant pedaling. But here after entering Spiti Valley I don’t understand; why on some downhill paths we had to pedal.

Despite the decline the bike was not catching up any speed.

It was strange and silly experience.

WTF; somebody give me a rocket booster.

3. Wind in My Face, Please No Thanks On a motorcycle the wind in your face is quite pleasing; but here on 0 BHP wind in face means pedaling against the wind to the last light.

Post Rampur we always got head wind after 3pm until Manali.

WTF; The feeling was like pedaling on the indoor cardio cycling machine with constant level 10 mode.

4. Where the Hell is All the Food Going By day 8 of the ride we could feel a shift in out metabolic rate. Whatever we eat was getting instantly digested.

We were hungry after breakfast, we were hungry after lunch and… we were hungry after dinner.

WTF; We were craving for sweets and beer always …and liquids throughout the ride.

5. Mr. Turkey Somewhere in the middle of the ride we got this pride and ego in ourselves. Any motorcyclist who use to pass by raising a thumbs up, we were enunciating ‘Bitch Please…’; 🙂 LOL…we were finding it very funny. Everyone tends to glorify their motorcycle rides in the Himalayas nowadays and we were like Bitch Please do it on 0 bhp.

It all went fine for few days until we reached Tabo. Upon reaching a cyber cafe we met a guy from Turkey who rode all the way on his bicycle, weighting 80kgs. (A Grand Bitch Please to us.) And over that he says I don’t feel I have cycled enough until I cover at least 20000kms. Our jaws dropped upon hearing this.

After this incident we were brought back on the ground; and in Abhilabh a Russian spirit came in (though the guy was from Turkey :-D) Hence onwards Abhi spoke everything in Russian accent. It was a ROFL acts to the end of the ride.

Why WTF!? …its because every time we were climbing steep slopes, he would do his Russian accent and smash all the focus and enthusiasm accumulated. I myself slipped on my own pedal once.

Hilarious it was..

Spiti Valley on a BICYCLE

Full Set of the Photo Album of Spiti Valley bicycle ride uploaded on my Flickr Account.

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When we did the Chandra Tal trek, Jamaica requested me to make a video presentation of it. This is the one I was able to cook up. Dedicated to Jamaica and his service to the people visiting Chandra Tal.

[vsw id=”e7kP66ACgds” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

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Notes

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“Great Things are achieved Only by Sacrifice”

In life, you don’t feel you have lived until and unless you do something crazy. Something you survive and live to tell the tale. Something that makes your heart warm; Something that burns the incense of passion inside you; your blood turns hotter than lava and the sound of your breath is looking to reach higher decibels.

No matter what logical decision your mind tells you to make, your heart is always ready to sacrifice something to be in that moment which gives you the utmost bliss.

With similar thought process and feelings running inside me I was having these ideas of doing a bicycle trip in the Himalayas. Atleast once in my life I wanted to register this entry in my day log of karma. I’m not sure how, but even the place hovering in my mind was Spiti Valley, specifically. I have seen those mountains over a couple of times and yet my focus was back on the same place.

I didn’t argue with myself; locked the destination and prepped for it in 3 months time. A new bicycle, gear and some practice for the muscles, back at home.

Usually anyone would train for atleast 6 months but I knew my mind and body was ready for it. It was a calling that I couldn’t doubt.

Going solo or not was still a question but sometimes words are released in those moments that you feel the control of external forces. I shared the plan with a friend of mine and he with another; And locked the group to 3. All this happened in a nick of time.

And so it was decided that we 3 will ride together on our bicycles to Spiti Valley this season of 2014.

We all had our frights and fear; but making it through was unquestionable in our hearts. We knew this was it.

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Here I present you 10 notes that took birth in this bicycle ride up in the Himalayas

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Note 1: People Lack Patience to Practice Patience

In today’s time one really needs to be patient. If he or she cannot remain one then during restless times one’s mind becomes annoying as a fly.

We took train from Mumbai to Kalka. Our bicycles were booked in the luggage car and we were rested in the 2AC compartment. Best place to be in the hot summers of Central India.

The train journey was quite long; sitting with hardly any activity to do requires tremendous amount of patience. In the first 6 hours itself my mind was going nuts. And to top it up, the seats occupied by the people opposite our birth were the only noisy ones in the whole compartment.

Jesus, …it was like ‘KILL ME NOW’ moment.

I came pretty close to snapping a few times; but calmed myself and went into deep silence to find peace and perspective in the finding scenario.

You know in difficult times I always remember the teachings of Dalai Lamba; to beat your own misery you need to visualize someone’s greater misery. Someone in this world, your brother, your fellow kind is going through much painful days than yours.

I immediately jump to positive feelings whenever these thoughts I recollect in my head. Today is a gift, it is a present. Perceive it in a way that you cannot see at first sight.

Interacting with the noisy family and neighboring passenger helped calm those annoying hours.

Really I need to start practicing patience to deal with annoying situations; you really don’t want to blow up yourself. Making yourself better and helpful is the sole purpose of one being.

Note 2: Holy Moly – The Reality is Tenfold of What We Thought

We prepared ourselves by cycling regularly couple of months before this main feat. We ate right and we packed right. We had all the things we need and we were high on confidence that we’ll be able to do this with some efforts. Hey! We had the youth on our side; so big deal!

We were foolish.

The moment we pushed that first pedal, the thought of reality kicked us hard. In fact kicked us right from the the south direction straightway up.

Within just 4 kms after embarking from Kalka we were “little” tired and muscles feeling heavy.

Plan was to reach Shimla in next 48 hours; with a night halt at Solan.

Every km being uphill, the climb was a staggering effort. Breathless, tired, exhaustion, thirsty, frustration, annoyance were the only words ringing in our heads. And the last few kms of the attempt were like ‘Forget the ride just bury us here.’

Regardless of how and what we were going through, somewhere in the back of the mind there was always this small candle of hope. Nothing but just desperate and urgent emotions of triumph and victory use to set in at moments.

We made it on time as per itinerary and also feet anchored to the ground. Reality plans now, no cloud 9 display.

Note 3: Reverence to The Body

Just when you think the tough part is over you realize everything was just warming up.

In the hours of our climb to Kufri and following day to Hatu peak, we realized our bodies are truly limitless. But you need to be patient for your physical being to come in terms with performance level. When it’s ready, you’ll know it.

Push it to build, not to destroy. It was the time that at least I started respecting my body on a whole different level. In the scales of physical endurance it was becoming stronger but needed continuous feed of my patience.

You may be last in the race but you are not done yet. Only inside you, you know, and are fully aware that there is so much yet to yield and deliver. It’s the only thing you need to keep in mind to pull such an act of adventure.

And in testing times, you’ll always find a helping hand to cheer you and bless you on your journey. We found this feelings in the lady who fought on behalf of us with the bus driver who almost dashed into us, we found it in the local guy running a adventure shop who saw our parked bicycles and stopped for a chat, we saw it in the local tourists who were cheering us when climbing steep slopes and… we saw it in invincible forces that were flying with us for our protection.

Today we now find ourselves in a position to do the impossible. The spark and potential has been awaken, now its time to move this body to greater heights.

It’s well said that body is the temple of God, adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; carefully careless. Quote, my Guru.

Note 4: A Skill if Unproductive is Never a Waste

Many of us in our lives learn something out of context; we pick up a few skills along the journey of life; Most land up being unproductive. You are a professional banker but you are an awesome gardener too. The latter might not be earning some bucks but it’s the skill you possess, you have been defined by it.

Believe me none will ever go to waste.

In an incident where my bike met with an accident; only the skills never used by my fellow cyclists came to the rescue in the need of hour. None of those skills were put to use in daily routine but today they stood to be heroes. There is a fine line between living and truly living.

Skills are your best weapons to emerge victories in any stage of life; no matter how diminutive they are, each set can be those drops that fill the ocean.

So in life pick up some new set of skills wherever there is an inner calling.

Note 5: True Test of Patience

Losar just 3kms away but why it feels like 300? You are at your full strength but why do you feel weak? You ate well then why are you feeling hungry? You had a good sleep then why so much fatigue? You trained well but why cannot see any results? You carried 4 liters of water then how come only half left when you are not even halfway across? Its downhill then why the cycle is not going fast?

In events like these you only feel, oh God let this moment past asap. But the truth I realized that until one doesn’t start enjoying these moments no matter how much baffling they are, every second passed will feel like endless hour.

Yes I’m in a pickle and I’m not able to figure out some things. But this scenario is just a part of your pursuit to success. It’s what going to make you. One needs to accept it, challenge it and resolve it by keeping self calm and composed. Then every longing second will feel like a fast paced moment.

Being aware and alert is the key of performing a patient activity. You are high on pain and my god, you love it. When finally that particular timeline has passed, your inner self screams in roar of rejoice and victory.

Yes you have made it. And shall do it again…

Note 6: Offcourse an Indian Can Do it

While crossing Pooh, we came across a small army post where the head officer asked in a little strong tone, ‘which country?’
I replied in the same tuning, INDIA.

He was shocked, surprised and later overwhelmed to see Indians on a bicycle in the valley. No backup, no big group… Just 3 people on bicycles.

We were brought inside on orders to have tea and snacks with them. Have a little talk and then carry on ahead with the ride.

A thought started pondering in my head that why sometimes some people assume Indians cannot be seen doing something like this… or something else; some other adventure feat.

We see many foreigners pedaling across the Himalayas, and I take inspiration from them only to execute on parallel lines. I believe there is nothing an Indian can’t do. And I also say why first of all bring nationality into it. If you are human, then you are limitless. One should learn how high he/she can excel in this God given life.

This was the very moment that gave birth to another ride on my bicycle, in my head —  A K2K : Kashmir to Kanyakumari SOLO 😛

Hopefully in 2015.

Note 7: There is No Harm in Asking for Help

Often I have seen that many of us especially in our youth refrain from taking any help when in trouble. It’s obvious that our pride and ego drives us into this thinking mode.

When climbing up Nako, we were determined to go all the way up pedaling. And honestly we did quite well; pretty impressive for first timers. But just 5kms before the village our body gave up. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were totally drained. There was nothing in us that could boost up our enthusiasm. And it was already past the last evening light.

Thankfully there was a small hotel coming up nearby and the restaurant was already functional. When we got speaking with them we got to know they are just packing up and will be driving to Nako where they stay.

It was a Mahindra Max and enough room at the back for 3 bicycles and 3 guys. We asked if they could drop us up and they casually answered in positive.

On our way up I realized that stubbornness is a quality that needs guidance. Yes I was stubborn. I wanted to go all the way up pedaling. But when I have mentioned before ‘Body is temple of God, Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy. Carefully careless’ I need to know when to stop and give it a break. Who knows, maybe next time I might be able to do it faster than just going all the way up pedaling.

Note 8: And I Thought Downhill Will be The Most Fun

The moment we started pedaling in the mountains, I had a feeling that going downhill must be super fun than the never ending uphill. That slow pace requires tremendous patience, so downhill will be pure compensation — was my belief. But in reality, we did not see this coming…

The first long downhill patch welcomed us post Narkhanda. It’s almost 40kms to the bottom of the hill from the popular hill station.

Within 5 minutes of the start we caught up speed and at the first turn I skidded a little. Almost fell you can say in fact.

Lesson 1 – Bicycles with luggage are not meant for cornering the way I’m imagining.

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On a straight downhill patch almost touched 50 speed and felt a wobble.

Lesson 2 – Going fast downhill with luggage onboard is a stupid idea.

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Already so much weight on bike and the weight of the bicycle pushing downhill in concern to speed, mass and gravity; most likely to get punctured.

Rear tyre gets its first nail on the trip.

Lesson 3 – Best to go fast on smooth surface than otherwise.

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Who said body will be at constant rest when going downhill?! A stupid assumption.

Lesson 4 – Your forearms and palm pain like hell because entire weight is falling on them while descending rapidly. The bigger you are the stronger it’s going to hurt.

“Uphill se darr nahi lagtha hai sab, Downhill se lag tha hai…” Dabbang style 😛

Note 9: Chacha Chachi

I don’t even need to explain this note. Those who have traveled Spiti thoroughly will know who are truly called as Chacha Chachi.

In this bicycle trip to Spiti Valley, 3 days spent in Batal at Chacha Chachi’s Dabha were the blissful moment of this epic feat. Their warm hospitality is unbelievable and immeasurable. Until you meet them you won’t even accept the fact that people like them exist even in today’s time. They have defined how a human being should live and behave. Their life there is also a testimony to the limitless potential two people have when they come together.

The food and talks just made us hung on to the place like bees on honey. We had to push our mind to come out from that comfort zone so we can move ahead in our journey. Otherwise who knows we would have lived there for more time.

Few moments of my life I shall surely dedicate to this beautiful couple living deep in the Himalayas. A gift to them is a must.

God bless them.

Note 10: Hidden Power Wakes Up

You don’t need to be exposed to gamma rays to become Hulk; not get bitten by spider to turn in Spiderman, not take boosters to become like Captain America… or wish you have super powers like Krissh. The Hero is already inside you. Strength and Bravery are already lurking inside you. The capsule of wisdom is too present in your diet; all you need to do is wake the hero, launch your strength and push the bravery sky high; …absorb the knowledge from the surroundings dispassionately. And transform into an ace human.

You’ll then realize you are already capable of performing miracles. The magic was already in your hand, you just have to start swinging the wand for the greater good.

This bicycle ride made me realize what I’m truly capable off and how much there is still inside me that needs an eruption.

All this time I thought I’m just a motorcycle enthusiast and Himalayan lover with a zest for photography. But now I realize there is more ‘stuff’ hiding in this body, soul, mind and heart. I cannot see it immediate but seek it with meditation and faith. I learned to trust my own self in ways I had not seen before.

It’s truly said that humans don’t fully work on their potential; how beautifully true it is, when here it took me 28 years to understand this… how much time it will take for others.

We all have hidden powers in ourselves; each one having a unique strength, a feature… a unique identity — spark. Try to take on something impossible that shall open the gates of that hidden dragon inside you. It’s time to come out of the ashes and take the flight of phoenix.

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Discoveries of Spiti Bicycle Ride

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There is no such thing as ‘Been there Done that’ – Many of us have this tendency to say this statement. It’s a way to make one sound cool. But I now realise the truth is otherwise.
No matter how much time you have been there or done that, every new time will always give a new perception. If you cannot see it then you are not seeking it.

Muscles are your best friends – You strength and muscles are you saviours for any such feat. We don’t take care of them enough; it’s high time we do the needful.
Making them stronger and flexible is more important for this generation than it was for the previous one.

Value water like nothing else – We get it’s regularly uninterrupted supply so we tend to take it for granted.
That feeling of quenching your thirst when you are desperate for some water is unexplainable. Water is life, value it — respect it.

People deserve respect, no matter how small – In today’s time the one who is highly qualified and become a big man gets the most respect. But we forget that by default in our hearts even today we generate respect for those who hit our chords gracefully. Rather than the humble receptionist of Shimla hotel, I felt a warm affectionate feeling towards the house owner of Losar where we stayed one night.
A small man from a small village won our hearts by just few graceful words from his illiterate being.

Skill is your qualification, not graduation – In the era where graduation is very important for teenager, learning few set of skills is getting ignored.
In life some skills that you pick up come to your rescue at desperate times. Its important to learn a thing or two once in a while.
Learn different types of knots, learn how to fish, learn sewing, learn to defend… atleast learn how to fix a puncture. 🙂

A herbal tea can do wonders – Drinking tea and coffee everyday is just useless and waste of money. We already know we get the 7th grade supply down to us and all above are exported; then what’s the point of having poor quality products for living.
Just move to herbal tea; it has so many benefits that you’ll see the results in just few days.
The herbal tea we had at Kye monastery, I felt its benefits in the same hour itself.

Inspiration and motivation are the only thing that drives you; seek it – These two things will always be the driving force behind your living, your activities and your behaviour.
The moment it starts diminishing, you tend to change in unpleasant way.

Burned enough fuel, now it’s time to give back – All these years we have burned enough gas to fuel our passion of automobiles; it’s high time we give something back to the environment.
Start by taking up a bicycle ride. Burn those calories instead of octane. You’ll surely benefit in the long run; and the respect you earn as a residue is an addon.

Abundant energy lies in small moments of joy and happiness; spread it – It’s something we know but always undervalue the concept.
One does not realize the powerful energy hidden in the joy of little things in life.
You get a top job in a big multinational company, you are happy, you are at the top of the world… But it still can’t beat the joy you experience when your baby first time calls you mama, papa.

It’s not the tea at Cafe Coffee Day but the cutting at Batal Dabha gives you warm and homely feeling. A feeling that ignites caring thoughts for our brothers and sisters on the planet. And our extended family among the animals.
From these small moments you’ll derive great amount of energy that you’ll never run out of enthusiasm.

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Last Note from My Journal

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The ride ended with some realization of truth and a sense of maturity. I promised myself that hence onwards I’m not gonna stop bicycling.

Be it for health and fitness or just mere commute or even some good long distance touring; bicycling will be an integral part of my lifestyle.

So the story of this ride ends but a whole new chapter in my life opens up.

The Air Up There | Himalayas

36 days in the Himalayas; 1 Man – 1 Machine

(Talking to myself inside the helmet); it’s been 12 hours since I left Kargil and entered Suru – Zanskar Valley. Couldn’t find an ounce of food to eat. Have been just on water… Yeah! This ride is definitely the most testing and challenging one done till date. Common Om focus; one mistake and you gone forever. It will take weeks just to know you are missing.

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I never imagined my life would revolve around Biking. May be it’s a passion or just an addiction but Motorcycles and Biking is now a culture, a family, a place where you make good friends; I’m grateful for this and the fact that it has given me the ability to reach any corner of the country in any environment. Freedom to explore the world on two wheels. Is it possible to push your limits in this world and to know where you stand by? Can two wheels teach you lessons of life? And what happens when you fall! So why not take it to the extremes and test the limits of man and machine, a place like no other, The Himalayas.

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Hi, my name is Om Vaikul and I set on a journey to the mountains for 36 days, covering 8000+ kms through 7 states, 9 valleys, 9 mountain passes and came back in a state of bliss. What makes any of this even more special is that I made this solo on my bike – on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

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The joy of being in Himalayas for me is unexplainable. We all have one place in our lives where we come to in peace with ourselves. For me Himalayas has always been the answer to the chaos in today’s living. Material, Spiritual and in Superficial terms, being just in Himalayas has become an annual thing. They are not just the youngest mountain range in the world but also the liveliest ones.

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Why Solo?

Till date I have made 6 trips to Himalayas and each time I was fascinated to hear some stories off this and that valley or come to know about some amazing place across a river that is very less explored. Also in each trip some of the places from the plan use to get skipped because of short of time or road block; some reason or the other. So once I had decided that a trip to Himalayas solo is a must. And it’s the only way I could quench my thirst of photography in the mountains fully.

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Why Thunderbird 500?

For the simple reason, I had carried ample luggage on this trip. Something that may or may not come handy was also in the bag. Couple of places was quite off the map, remote and isolated so carrying atleast 10 litres extra fuel was mandatory. And I wanted to enjoy this ride in a cruiser position; also not compromise anywhere in power. I saw Thunderbird 500 has the only option that fit aptly. The 20 litres large fuel tank, tried and tested 500cc engine from the best selling Classic 500 and the many other modern technology incorporated in this bike, made this a feasible choice.

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Priceless Experiences?

From the whole 36 days. I would like to narrate 9 incidents that made me think in a renewed way towards life granted by the almighty one.

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1st Incident | Location: Somewhere on the highway

Just when I had taken a small tea break by the highway, a guy riding a motorcycle came and stopped besides me. He seemed a local fellow and I guess was also stopping for tea. When I turned and looked at him properly, my glass almost fell off after the sight I witnessed. The guy had no left arm; yet he rides a motorcycle properly.

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I exchanged few words with him, took a photograph with his permission and carried on. He was such a casual personality as how we express ‘no big deal’ phrase. The only thing that kept rotating in my mind was ‘Impossible is truly nothing.’

2nd Incident | Location: Chail, Himachal Pradesh

It was past 5 PM and I was coming down on the Chail Kufri road to get back on the main highway and as per my itinerary, today’s halt was in Narkhanda. As I was cruising, calculations were in full flow in my head that in an hour I’ll lose the day light and Narkhanda is still another 2 and a half hours away, max, that too if I rush a little. One thought was, maybe I’ll check in to a hotel nearby. Probably before the sun sets! And just after passing of this thought a hotel kind of thing passed by. I was little fast so couldn’t get the whole glance. I stopped ahead and thought for a second whether it was what I saw or may be try my chance little ahead!

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I don’t know why and how, but the next action came naturally. Without wasting a moment I turned back and went there. Parked my bike, removed my helmet and took in the whole view of the place. It was quite something. A hotel which looked like a home, totally built on a slope with stones and concrete pillars. When I was bargaining for a fair deal, the lady who came at the door told me to go up at the top and her husband is sitting there, please speak with him.

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I met him on the terrace of the hotel and spoke with him for about 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised to know that it was not at all about the rate or tariff to stay here, he was curious to know why I’m traveling alone, who I am and the curious questions usually asked to a solo traveler. After a moment of silence he started praising of what I am on to and wished me the very best for the journey ahead.

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The lady got me some tea and then finally topic came on the price for the accommodation. Rs. 500/- was finalized. I was little tired that day and the owner also insisted to sit and relax for a while before going down again for luggage and stuff. Here is when a new topic got initiated. In that moment I got to know from him, this place is their home and now made into a hotel, their village is close by and this was their parents’ dream. Many other little and big intimate details of the place I was told. I also got to know he had given a job to someone to make a website for his place and the guy never corresponded back. This is when I interrupted and told him it’s not that difficult to make it. It is hardly expensive to make just a simple static website for a place like this on a platform called WordPress. I quoted him a small figure of Rs. 2000/- that is sufficient to create one.

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He asked me do you also make a website. I replied yes. Here are his next words, “Son, please make one for us and don’t pay us anything for the stay here. Enjoy 3-4 days here. Have the best of food that my wife will prepare. My sons will take you around and show you the place.” I don’t know how and why but to this I agreed so spontaneously that I didn’t even understand whether I myself said yes or just my soul was answering. For the first time I felt of higher powers at work.

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I stayed with the family for 3 days. Each meal given to me was king size. I ate with them in the kitchen as well as the dining room. On cold night, food was served to me in my room. Every item consumed is grown there and like he promised, his 2 sons took me on a tour of the whole mountain. Before leaving he even told me, “I have good contacts further ahead in state, if any help needed then do not hesitate to ring me up.”

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When I reached Mumbai after 30 days from their place, exactly on the 35th day I got a call from them to know whether I have reached safe and was my journey a success! I was touched by their approach. I’m still in touch with them and have been invited to come there again in winter months to see a whole different Chail. First time I realised the meaning and got a true experience of the phrase “Guest is God”.

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3rd Incident | Location: Maling near Nako village, Himachal Pradesh

When I was closing in on Nako village I got to know via Bcmtouring.com that the Malling Nallah area has a disastrous drop. The road has totally gone down. And no way will it be ready in the next 15 days, that was the degree of damage. I still took my chances and settled in at a home stay in Nako. It’s a very remote village high in Himalayas so accommodation charges amount to hardly an expensive figure.

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On Day 2, I made reckon of the situation and decided to give 7 days’ wait, for it to improve. But right after passing of the 3rd day I realised this is no way going to get ready even for lighter vehicles like a bike anytime soon. I was discouraged and disheartened. But just when I was getting ready to turn back, an army fellow met me at the village. There was a wedding in the evening so some army guys had come down for some work. He told me that he was observing me since last 3-4 days and inquired about my intentions. The next thing to come from his mouth was, “Sirji you come up tomorrow morning with your bike, with luggage and everything. We have just put a railing on the patch and with some efforts we might be able to get you across.” I was delighted to hear this. Very eagerly I waited for the next morning.

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At the first light I was full ready to roll. Even before breakfast I was ready up there. The same army fellow met me and gave me 2 helpers to assist me out. And with some daring efforts, me and my bike were taken across. I could not express the joy of the current happening. Some other labour or person would have asked for money or some compensation. But the moment I went across and looked back, the 2 people immediately went back to their camps without showing any expectation. I whistled and waved to show my gratitude. I experienced the phrase, “Yes, even today there are people who will help you whole heartedly.”

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4th Incident | Location: Chandra Tal

During my 7 days stay in Nako, via a working cyber café I was communicating and updating on BCMT forum about the road status here. I didn’t realise who all were reading or following it. After my departure from Kaza in Spiti valley I arrived at Chandra Tal. Kept my stuff in a camp and headed towards the lake. I met a guy over there ‘Jamaica’ and with just some talks exchanged he recognized me the one who was in Nako for 7 days. He was overwhelmed to meet me and I was taken away by his hospitably.

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So many mutual friends and topics opened up that an amazing bond got created with the man. He made an amazing food for me that night. It’s not easy to cook non-veg items at that altitude in severe cold weather. Also insisted to come and have breakfast with him next day morning. He prepared everything by himself. At the end of our meeting it happened so that he didn’t take a single rupee from me for his services offered. People ask me; tell me a person who will work not for money? Today I can proudly say, come with me and I’ll not just tell but show HIM to you.

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5th Incident | Location: Keylong

I had plans to explore the hike route to Keylong monastery before I set riding for the day. I started at 6 in the morning and since there was nothing open at that hour, I just grabbed couple of bananas for the trek. Within 40 minutes of climb I was lost and the 2 bananas disappeared in my stomach. I didn’t want to go back, was totally determined to make it to the top of the monastery. So finally after zig zag climb I was inside the main building. Totally drained, hungry, thirsty and exhausted enough to fall down. Over the top I got to know that all monks have left for the Hemis festival.

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Just when hope was dying out, I was greeted by 2 little monks (kids) who took me in the kitchen. I think they noticed me tired and exhausted because the next thing I see is hot herbal tea and a jar full of biscuits kept in front of me. I was trying my level best to control the tears that were trying to burst out. Both of them gave me a tour of the place before I started downhill back to the hotel. Quote, “God walks with you. He takes care of you. His love can take you across the universe.”

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6th Incident | Location: Leh

When I reached Leh I was looking for the cheapest possible accommodation and close to the main market as much as it can get. After some snooping around I finally found a homey stay that fit my budget. My very thought before closing my eyes was that after 5 days I’m gonna have a royal English breakfast at German Bakery. A must do for bikers coming to Leh. Next morning, excited, ready and just when I was about to exit the room, the house lady grabs me, “Hello ji good morning, where are you going in such a hurry, come have breakfast first.” I couldn’t say no and sound rude. So I agreed. When I went in the kitchen I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a royal Ladakhi breakfast, homemade, just for me.

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Here is my point, for the 4 days I stayed in Leh home stay; the house lady didn’t let me leave the house without having breakfast with them. I was given variety each time the morsel was presented to me. What makes this special? On the 4th day when I was clearing the payments for accommodation and food, the house lady refused to take money for the food. I couldn’t do anything but bow in front of them. The only line that kept going in my head that day, “Who are these wonderful people, I know nothing about the real Indian.”

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7th Incident | Location: Rangdum village

Deep inside the Suru – Zanskar Valley is the village called Rangdum. It consists of just 4-5 houses and 1-2 hotels (namesake). Before reaching Padum, one night has to be spent here. It’s the only feasible halt in between the journey of 300 kms off-road stretch.

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I stayed in one such home stay and didn’t dismount much luggage from the bike; just got the camera bag with me up in my room. There was a hotel at walking distance on the other side of the village and I had inquired that dinner will be available but served after 7-8 PM. So till then I rested for some time in my room. By night it was so cold that even stepping out of the room was discouraging. And yes I was hungry enough; since morning I had nothing but a cup of Maggi noodles.

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Just when I couldn’t make up my mind, the man of the house arrived. He looked very aged but strong in stance. The first thing he said was let’s get your luggage inside. Since you are traveling alone, you don’t want to risk your luggage here at this place. Surely nothing will happen but theft doesn’t come in definite conditions. I was speechless. I agreed to him quickly. The next thing he asked me was whether I have eaten? My expression was enough to speak out the answer. He immediately tells his wife, please serve him too, with the food prepared today. I did mention to him that don’t take any trouble as I was about to go to that hotel, he replied, they serve only junk food. No taste, no nutrition. Eat here at home.

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I was presented with rotis, vegetable, curd and Tibetan bread. Prepared exactly how they eat and quantity that will suffice 2 people. I ate and never in my life slept so peacefully. I realised, “Food is truly Brahman; and Vishnu can get him to you in any form, any way and any manner. And Allah blesses the Family who treats the guest as their own.”

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8th Incident | Location: Pensi La

A very small incident took place at Pensi La that left a big impact on my thinking and approach towards life. I closed in on Pensi La pass and took a break near a view point. I noticed a man standing there and staring at me. It didn’t bother me at all. I even exchanged pleasantries with him.

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Just when I was about to pack and move ahead, he stops me and gives me black tea. For a moment I assumed it’s a stall kind of thing he is running under the shed at the corner of the view point structure. When we were talking, the next thing he serves was hot fresh puris. I was totally taken back at the availability of this delicacy at this altitude and weather. I enjoyed every bite of it.

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So what was the big impact? The moment I asked him how much do I owe him for the tea and snacks, he was shocked. In a very heart touching tone he said humbly, “What Sir, you are guest in the Himalayas. To serve you is to serve our father.” (Pointing to the Himalayas). I later got to know that the man was just up there to collect some dry grass for his village. It will take him the entire day to do so; hence he carried materials to make his own meals till sundown. On seeing me, he shared what he had made and forever changed my perspective towards life.

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Values of Being Human are deep rooted in us. We have forgotten them, but somehow our soul still knows it. Only incidents like this, it takes, to re-activate them. No education, no money, nothing but just a humble gesture.

9th Incident | Location: Karsha Monastery

When exploring the monastery on foot, I reached to the top and was busy in photography. A very old monk came by and asked me something. I could not figure a single word that he was uttering. But I figured this much that he is asking to stay for some time. I gladly obliged. I had all the time to give. In about 20 minutes, many little monks came running and this old monk grabbed my hand and made me sit next to him. The next thing I know I’m having my lunch with them – white rice and a boiled egg.

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Food has never been so tasty. Not my stomach but my soul was fed by the Lord himself.

36

The 36 days on the highway has taught me lessons of life. Lessons you can’t read about or see on TV. I rode and lived my life in a perspective not seen by many, to a place where you can’t afford any mishaps of judgment.

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I conquered my fear, received the love of my people and country, driven by willpower at times, composed myself in situations of threat and got in touch with my true self.

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This journey made me a better man and I feel privileged to come back alive.

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Checkout all the 600 pictures from the ride HERE.

– Om Vaikul

The story was also published in MotorBeam mag; you can checkout the link Here.