Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 5, 6 and 7

Sorry people... have been gone long. Updates on what's happening in next post.
Coming back to the trip. Day 5 was the trip to Numbra Valley which we skipped. KC and me were exhausted, we didn't want to travel anymore but just rest. We decided to stay back in Leh. I was ill on day 5 and had half a mind to fly back the next day but the tickets were awfully expensive. The agent worked out the hotel details so we didnt have to pay extra. Unfortunately, our hotel did not have available rooms so we shifted to the next door hotel.
After sleeping all day on day 6, we explored the market. The weather was now hot and we didnt need warm wear. Leh is closest to civilization. It has many, many restaurants. We tried only one and stuck to it throughout. I tried the local food called "thukpa"... it is basically noodles in soup with chicken/veggies... filling and easy to make... but too bland for me. I could not have it after 3-4 spoons. The market mainly has warmwear- pashminas, stoles, shawls, sweaters and a lot of handicrafts. The only problem is the high price. Since many, many foreigners visit here the prices are high. The pashmina sweaters/stoles were more expensive than the ones sold in 'Zara'. I bought 2 leather jackets but whether it is real leather will have to be tested. For example, we came across a shop with some Buddha sign on a shiny cloth. For some reason KC was fascinated by it (I personally did not want to see it in my house) and wanted to buy it. The shopkeeper quoted 4k as the price. He brought it down to 3k. It was still way above our budget and we didn't purchase it. The next day, we came across the same piece in another shop for 2k. I am sure after negotiation we could have bought it for 1k. Those guys would still have made a profit. Another reason for the high prices is that tourists go to Leh only during 4 months in the year. Everyone has other means of livelihood during the balance of the year.
Day 7 was the same... we shopped... walked around... slept... relaxed. We returned the next day after a stop over at Jammu airport for 3 hours.

Some tips if you plan to holiday in Leh/Ladakh:
  • Keep the trip short... 3-4 days max. It can get hectic otherwise
  • Skip Kargil... fly to Leh directly and start the trip from there. We came across a few people on motorbikes. I know some batch mates who did the trip on bikes
  • Loos are hard to come by on the way... be prepared for that
  • The roads are deserted... don't expect decent food on the way. Best is to carry packed lunches else you will end up eating Maggi on all days. The hotels mostly served us aloo gobhi/paneer etc. We got really, really tired after 2-3 meals. The driver will know the best places for food
  • Carry a lot of warm clothes... gloves, jackets, sweaters, thermal wear, socks, caps etc.
  • Pray it does not rain but is sunny
  • Places around Leh are famous for river rafting and trekking. An adventure trip is a good option here. I wish we had done river rafting
  • If you are looking for a leisure holiday, avoid this place...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 4

We started in the morning for Pangong Lake. It was a 7 hours journey. Pangong lake is where 3 idiots climax scene was shot. Travelling was hectic... roads were treacherous and the high altitude starting making most of the people dizzy. KC was not well throughout. He was cold and dizzy. We came across snow covered mountains and it was soooooooo cold. Btw, I forgot to describe my outfit... my best one. I had worn a Wills Lifetyle skirt... with skin colored tights... they were woollen and warm... with a red Zara spaghetti top and red Zara cardigan. I had the overcoat over it plus a black stole.
We reached the Chang La pass which is the 3rd highest in the world. There was snow everywhere and the highest cafeteria. I got down from the bus to go to the loo and felt so dizzy. Slowly and steadily, I reached the cafe, went around the back which was covered with snow and came to the loo. I didn't think that snow would be so slippery. It is common sense but the feeling was new. Its not like I skate at home on the snow.
A word of caution.... there are hardly any loos on the way... the few that we came across were dirty and filthy. I am quite particular about men peeing on the roads but in this case they did not have an option. There are still some loos for women but none for men.
We kept moving up the mountains till the peaks were parallel and then moving down... and then moving up. It was an amazing experience. Lunch was at a small hut on the way. By 2 pm they were out of food.... and we had to satisfy ourselves with Maggi and egg bhurji. It was so cold outside we huddled in the one room kitchen while the women cooked for us.
Pangong lake arrived at 6 pm. The cold was biting and fierce. We savoured the lake... its pristine beauty... clicked many many pics... and then I left the group to return to the vehicle. My overcoat was with KC and those 5 mins of walking in the cold took its toll. I was slightly woozy on the way to the tent which was 10 mins away.
There was a huge goof up... our agent had booked 5 tents but the manager there had given away 2 of them on first come first serve basis. There were 10 of us and 3 tents... no phone signal... no way to sort it out. The guys then took the vehicle to the nearest STD booth to sort things out. I sat inside one of the tents and suddenly started shivering. When KC returned he gave me his warm clothes and covered me with 4 blankets. I was still shivering. It was scary... no phone signal to call my dad for medicines... no medical care... and no way out. KC was took great care all night... brought me dinner... kept checking on me every hour... got me ORS to prevent dehydration. He was not too well either. All night I kept waking up wondering when it will be morning so we could leave from there.
Next morning I was slightly better but wanted to get to Leh to rest. I was tired and not in the mood to continue the trip. On the way back, everyone else wanted to visit monasteries and the palace. I was screwed. All I wanted to do was return safe to the hotel. After stopping at Thiksay monastery for an hour (I did not join), the palace was skipped 'coz nobody wanted to climb so high... and we reached Leh.
KC and I decided to skip last 2 days of the trip. I was actually planning to return 2 days earlier... better to recover at home than in a hotel at Leh.

Next... day 5 and 6 at Leh. I leave you with some pics:

These are 'marmots'... they go into hibernation during winter... are herbivores and quite friendly

Snow at Chang La pass

World's 3rd highest pass

Pangong Lake

The place where 3 idiots climax was shot

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 3

So... I was happy when I woke up in the tent. It was warmer and I slept better.... there was a sun shining down on us and last night's conversation made me feel closer to KC. We skipped a bath. We were headed to Leh which was only 2.5 hours away and decided to bathe among walls. We looked forward to staying between walls after the tent experience. One of the guys had an important conference call and we left early. While boarding the vehicle somebody decided that guys will sit together and the girls could sit together. I couldn't believe my ears. For a moment I was carried back to my kindergarten days. There was a merry-go-round which would go round and round (not up and down). If there were fewer guys, the girls would sing; "Guy among girls... in Gujju- Chokriyoni vache chokro" and force him to get off. Same treatment would be meted to females.
Anyone who knows me well will know that I do not believe in gender bias. I like my guy friends as much as my female friends. And I hate being labelled "wife" all the time. Its a word loaded with expectations. I do not go by the rules of society. So, to have to sit with the other females 'coz I am a female was very off putting. And KC did not protest. He happily sat with his friends. If my hubby will not stand up for me... who will?
I plugged my ipod and sulked... what I do best. We stopped on the way at Magnetic Hill. According to the signboard, any car parked in neutral will move away from the slope. Gravity has no effect here. Somehow, we found the car moving towards the slope. The landscape was beautiful. It is one of the most scenic roads. We clicked many pics... I sulked in most of them. I also made it clear to KC that if we do not sit together I will not sit with him throughout the journey. I was a little worried about the threat... what if he still did not sit with me? Would I have to carry out the threat? Would I have to sulk for the rest of the trip? I cannot stay pissed/mad for too long and I do not like tension between us. If I do not carry out the threat... he will not believe me again. Sigh!!! What a dilemma. Thankfully, he asked me to come sit with him in the car. I think eyebrows were raised but I didn't care.
We reached Leh at around 10.30 am and got a shock. Hot water for bathing is available only between 6 am to 8 am and 6 pm to 8 pm. We snoozed throughout the day since the hotel staff advised us to rest, acclimatize ourselves and not go out. Hill stations face shortage of water and none of the hotels offer water. You have to ask for it. Water is not served in the rooms and nobody fills your glass in the restaurant. It is very, very precious here.
After a nice, late bath we were heading for dinner in the restaurant when KC's friend invited us to his room. Everyone had gathered for a daaru session. I was too hungry and not in a mood to drink plus did not want to join in another Marathi session and so skipped the rest of the evening. It was much more pleasant to just sit in the room, rest and watch TV.

I leave you with some pics... Next... Day 4... Leh to Pangong Lake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 2

I slept till 8 am on day 2 at Kargil. Unfortunately for me, the hot water was gone by then. Instead of going to another room where there was a geyser, I decided to take bath in cold, cold water. It actually helped.
We headed for Uleytokpo. It is an insignificant place but the distance to Leh was too huge to cover in the same day. We were supposed to stay in a tent there. It sounded exciting. The landscape was amazing. I had the IPod glued to my ears to avoid interaction with the rest. I have never listened to so much music in my entire life put together. Anyway, we had the huge mountains and the river for company. In some areas there was ice and the river was flowing from under it. The rocks looked so dangerous. It reminded me of cliffs described in books. Nature in its varied forms. I fell in love with it.
We stopped on the way at a monastery. It was very small but the mountains around gave it a beautiful touch. Our lunch was arranged 20 km away which would have meant 1-1.5 hours of driving and we decided to have it at the restaurant nearby. Big mistake. The food arrived 30 mins later and tasted bad. I couldn't swallow even one morsel. Somehow the rest gobbled down the food and ordered for more.
We arrived at 6 pm. It had rained during the day due to which the stones were slippery, it was very cold and our tent was dripping with water. We got the tent changed but it was not warmer here. We whiled away time till dinner in the stone house where food was served. It was so much warmer and we were tempted to spend the night there.
One of the guys who is a regular drinker and smoker wanted to have liquor but the manager was not agreeing to it since there were other guests staying there. He requested the guard to arrange something. The old guard lent us his hut. We huddled on the floor in the room of the hut. He gave us glasses and hot water. I had a few sips of the whisky but it had no effect. After dinner we all retired to bed. KC and I had a long talk about how the trip was progressing. I told him about my frustrations. He was sympathetic and we bonded. It was a good talk.

I will leave you with some pics. Next post... Uleytokpo to Leh.

The tent where we stayed

The river and the mountains

Beautiful landscape

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not a Love Story

I read good and bad reviews about the movie but wanted to watch it. Ram Gopal Verma is one of the best directors when it comes to thrillers... he has proved it in the past. Also, Mahi Gill is a damn actress and I wanted to watch the movie.
The story is based on the Neeraj Grover murder case whose verdict was out last week. The correct time to release the movie. It is completely based on facts... no judgements, no moralizing. The movie only states what happened. The acting is damn good and reading about gory facts is so different from watching it on screen. Maria and Jerome have sex in reality after murdering Neeraj. Its shocking.
The camera angles are weird but thats just RGV. No other director would take shots of the car from above.
I do wish there was some deviation from facts... those who have followed the case will not find it very revealing. When you make a movie you need to bring something to the table. RGV has not done that. He has just stated facts... even the end is abrupt since the verdict was not out.
I am sickened that the court has released Maria. She helped Jerome in covering up the murder. What kind of sick people chop off a body into pieces and burn it? Do we want someone like that living around us? Shouldn't such people be made to rot in jail all their life instead of being let off? What was Neeraj's fault? Trusting the wrong person?
Its a sick sick world we live in.

The Carrie Diaries

Apparently, this book is about Carrie Bradshaw when she was in high school. Just a marketing gimmick. There is nothing Carrie like in the main character... it could be anybody.
Please avoid.

Day 1

Hiya. So, I am back and so happy to be back. I will post about the trip but break it down day wise. It will help me get into details and it will be easier to read.
But before I begin.... the trip was with KC, his friends and their wives. We have never done such a group trip... the only other time was when we went with his other group to Pune for a friend's engagement. Hanging out with each other's friends does not count. Anyway, so I have never met all the people of the group... some I have been out with at one time or the other... but not for more than half an hour at a stretch. Everytime a plan to hang out with some of them was made... I either ditched or left. So, basically these people were strangers for me. I didn't care... I was going with KC and thats all that mattered. Also, I do not know who came up with 'Leh Ladakh'... none of us were involved in planning or researching the trip. Lets say I walked into it blindly.

We took a flight from Delhi to Srinagar... everyone else was arriving from Mumbai on the same flight. Flight got delayed by half an hour which was insignificant till we were on the road. The schedule was tight and the delay was going to cost us. From Srinagar we headed to Kargil 204 km away. First thing we learned was that there was no correlation between the distance and time taken to cover it mainly due to the roads. The journey time was supposed to be 7 hours. It was warm at Srinagar but people removed warm clothes from their bags. I had over packed- going by the size of my suitcase compared to others. If it was my friends, I would have consulted with everyone and brought similar sized luggage but guys just don't do that.
The major shock was when everyone was talking in Marathi. All the 8 people (excluding us) are born and brought up in Mumbai and are post graduates. 2 of us (me and another guy's wife from Delhi) don't speak or understand Marathi. One of KC's friends took up our cause and requested everyone to speak in Hindi but guess what... they REFUSED. Someone actually said; "80% of us are Marathis... we will speak the same... not so comfy with Hindi". I wanted to run away there and then and that would have been a good decision 'coz all conversations were in Marathi. I will commit suicide if I hear one more word of Marathi and so hate the language now.
I will come back to the trip later....there are some points I would like to make. If educated, young people... the cream of India will act regional... what hope is there for rest of the country? It is almost like racism and I hate caste ism of any sort. I was born in Gujarat and am a Sindhi. As a kid, I spoke in Hindi at home and Gujarati outside. The switch came easily. When I shifted to a convent boarding in Rajasthan, the language spoken was English and Hindi was spoken only in Hindi classes. We were not allowed to speak Hindi otherwise. I was juggling 4 languages but that came naturally. I think in English and not Sindhi and that makes a world of a difference. When I shifted to B school in Karnataka, I came across the weirdest thing. 80% of students were from South (obviously) but whenever Mallus gathered they would speak in Malayalam without a care for who was around. Even if you were in a group talking in English with a Mallu, another Mallu would come around and they would speak in the language leaving you out of it. All complaints fell on deaf ears. Compare this to my engineering days in Gujarat. There were 30 students... 22 girls and 8 guys. 2 of us were non Gujjus. Even though I was fluent in the language I refused to speak it in college. I stuck to Hindi. Thankfully, my group in 1st year had a mix of Gujjus and non Gujjus and we all spoke Hindi. Coming back to the batch of 30 students... they had all grown up in Gujarat... the Profs taught in Gujju... they would spend their life in Gujarat and had no reason to speak another language. No kidding. But they went out of their to speak Hindi with me. Trust me... speaking Hindi is an effort for a Gujju.... their style of speaking reveals that. And I appreciate it even more. Even when they forgot and spoke in Gujju, they would apologize and switch right back. One day the Head of Department who was a Sindhi asked me why I don't speak Gujarati in college. He knew my parents and was aware of our fluency in the language. I told him clearly that I study in an English medium college and will only speak either Hindi or English.
Language is for communication... it was to unite people and not to discriminate. Sindhi unites me to my family... English and Hindi to the world... and Gujju is an add on. I have never bonded with someone 'coz we speak the same language. I cannot speak Sindhi with friends... it is restricted to family and relatives. If and when KC and I have kids... the language spoken will be Hindi and English 'coz thats our language. Marathi is not mine and Sindhi is not his. I will never encourage them to learn either of the two 'coz then it will shut out one or the other.

Yes... I feel strongly about language, caste, creed etc. I was obviously in wrong company.
Coming back.... we stopped on the way to Sonemarg to click pics even though the driver assured us that a better view lies ahead. Lunch was at a small dhaba on the way. We did not have the patience to wait till Sonemarg where better food would be available. We did that a lot... ate at the wrong places despite the driver's warning.
There was some snow at Sonemarg and ponies could take us there. I was excited. We were charged 500 bucks per pony and off we went... over the mountains and wet stones. It was a bumpy ride with my pony acting aggressive and competing with the other ponies. For once, I did not want to compete. After 45 mins of the torture they dropped us some feet away from the snow cave. I was exhausted and decided to give up while everyone else went till the cave. Since we had spent too much time on the ponies, the drive brought the car closer and we had to ride the pony for only 5 mins. We were fleeced... there was a shorter route but deliberately we were taken through the longer one. Also, we were late. Kargil is the highest army base and you can be refused entry after a particular time. The driver was a little concerned about this. There were jawans at every kilometer distance due to red alert on Independence Day. It was scary... the amount of money and manpower we spend on guarding that area has to be seen to be believed.
The road to Kargil is open only for 4 months of the year... it is covered with snow rest of the year. All the rations have to be sent up during this time. If some truck gets stuck at any other time, nobody can help. There is no phone connection and you have to cross a no man's land to reach it. My camera could not capture this and I gave up after a few attempts. You really have to see it. There was a particular turn where the car could not carry everyone. The guys were asked to walk the distance while the car carried us ahead. Some privilege of being a woman. And it was cold... really cold.
We stopped at Dras for some tea and reached Kargil at midnight. All the views that KC wanted to see... Tiger Hill etc were shrouded in the dark. Thankfully, the hotel had kept dinner for us. I snoozed after dinner while KC spent time with his friends.

Next post... day 2 at Uleytokpo.

Here are some pics:


The snow cave... where we went on ponies

Sonemarg. The river was our companion throughout

Early morning at Kargil

View of Kargil from the hotel

The river and the mountains

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Hiya. I just returned from Mumbai. It was a one day trip for Rakshabandhan. Some festivals are huge in Gujarat... Janmashthmi, Holi, Diwali, Rakhi, Uttarayan. I guess I mentioned them all. Tieing a Rakhi has been a life long tradition. Even now cousins we may not be in touch with, send Rakhis for my bro. Actually, their mothers send it... just like my Mom sends Rakhis across to my cousins on my sis and my behalf. It was hectic but worth it. My Mom also lent me all her warm clothes which are much needed for this week's trip.

The other day I was thinking how I do not get hit on anymore. I wondered if its because I am older and men my age are all hooked up. Or maybe I am never in a situation where I give someone the opportunity... like in a pub or club. I was not being vain.. the thought crossed my mind and it was reinforced by this incident:
I was in GIP Mall with some time to kill. I went to Om Book Store to buy some books. While browsing the bestsellers section a guy approached me and asked for recommendations. Sounds innocent enough? I replied saying; "I don't know" and walked away to the billing counter. Instinct told me he was hitting on me. As a female, I never ever ignore my instincts. Anyway, instead of being flattered I wanted to reply; "Play with girls your own age and leave me alone". I am not pretty, I don't flirt, I do not have time to make small talk and make friends with strangers at random places. Nope... I am not boring. I have been there, done that and am happy I do not have to do it again.

I remembered how carefree, trusting and risk free I was as a teenager. It almost seems stupid now. Thankfully, nothing seriously bad happened to me. It was a good time and I'm happy I indulged in all of it.
Below are some memories from those times:
  • After passing out of a girls school in 10th (where there was little scope for interaction with guys), I was completely focussed on studies in 11th and 12th std. I went out just once... with my best friend. All interactions were limited to coaching and school. While going for my tuitions one day, a guy followed me on the bike and asked me; "Do I know you from somewhere? You look familiar". I knew it was a line but decided to meet him after my tuitions. Don't ask why. I have no idea. I was bored. We talked and it was really boring. We decided to meet again the next day. Don't ask why. I couldn't say no. I said yes and planned to ditch him. Only problem was he knew where I had my tuitions. To cut it short, I didn't stop for him. He followed me for some distance and then gave up.
  • The internet opened unimaginable avenues when I joined college. Hours were spent chatting before college opened. I met numerous guys from the net. Again, very risky. Its something I wouldn't dream of doing now. But then, heart made the decisions and the head followed. When college opened, I met college mates through the internet. Some are still friends... others have moved... some ended up being boyfriends for a short period... and there were many many lies exchanged. Some rules were followed while chatting- general chat was the norm, private messaged were exchanged only when someone seemed interesting, ASL (age sex location) were never given out correctly in general chat, chat was followed up with phone calls and then a meeting. There was this guy who I had planned to meet and then decided to ditch at the last moment (For some reason, I did THAT a lot). There were no cell phones and I didn't want to call and cancel. Teenage guys can be persuasive to the point of desperate. After making him wait for half an hour, I decided to make an appearance. He told me how he stays in a conservative joint family, girls cannot call/come home and the internet is the only place where interaction is possible. Internet was an excellent medium for exploration.
  • During one of my on again and off again relationship during college, a guy who was a friend's friend asked me out. I agreed. He was an interesting dude and had a crush on me for quite sometime. Well, he talked non stop for an hour. I did not get a word in... neither did the waiter. We didn't order... he just talked. I was ready to shoot myself. Finally, I made my excuses and left
Looking back, I am glad the dating game is finally over and I am settled.
Sometimes, the thought that the excitement, craziness, risk taking and heartbreak will never come again.
But then again, do any of us need any of these back in our life?

Tata.... I will be back on Sunday. Adios till then...Hoping to have a fab trip.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lessons learned this week

  1. Happiness : It is an internal feeling... money, success, people do not bring happiness... you are either happy or not... you cannot be happy one moment and unhappy the next moment... or maybe I am mistaking it for contentment. But I prefer to define the above as "happiness". I had forgotten this. Just remembered it now. I am happy... even if my day is bad, my bank balance is low, there are few friends around etc etc etc etc
  2. Independence: I learned that no matter how far you come in life... or how many people are around you... you can only truly depend on yourself. I keep forgetting this and start depending on people around me. When they do not live upto my expectations, I get frustrated. I have learned that it is better to do things on your own than depend on someone else.
  3. Dependency: I have learned the relief and joy someone else's support, involvement and effort can bring. It minuses out the above lesson... but thats the trick....
  4. Blogging: 2 people reminded me yesterday and today how important blogging is to me and how important it can be to others. I will not let it flag like this again. I started blogging in 2006. It has been 5 years already and my journey is reflected in my posts... something which reminds me who I was as a person at a particular time. Nothing can replace that.
  5. Commenting: I am not huge on commenting for various reasons- some blogs are so popular my comments get lost out. I eagerly look forward to their posts but they probably dont know I am a regular reader... they have so many fans, it won't matter if there is one comment less. Another reason is sometimes I come online only to read posts.... I do not have enough time to comment... specially when I am at work. Thirdly, I write for myself... the blog has never been an "exchange" of ideas for me... it is more about me spewing my thoughts and feelings here. So, less importance on comments. But, I have learned that for everyone blogging serves a different purpose. And I am going to be open to the exchange of ideas
  6. How to take a long live: Plan the trip 2 months in advance, at least. Get the leave approved... no one thinks so far off into the future. Do not mention it again till 2 days before the leave begins. Your immediate superior may get a panic attack remembering his approval... but it will be too late for anything. Do not... feel guilty. If you do, you will end up working on the trip
  7. Nothing is so important that you cannot take a whole week off in the year

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Peek a boo

Hiya... I have been gone long and I am truly sorry. I never thought blogging would suffer like this.
Life has been busy... hectic and most nights I come home so dead... all I do is have dinner, watch an episode or two of 90210 season 4, read a little and then sleep. I have not spoken to some friends in weeks and its not a good thing.
Sundays are for chores... movies... going out... fitting in many many things in one day. My day for tomorrow is already planned...
8 or 9 am: Wake up... cannot sleep late 'coz of maid, cook, car cleaner asking for keys, laundry guy, garbage guy. Everyone descends on Sunday morning
10 am: B'fast of waffles and grilled sausages
11 am: Blood donation for KC's friend's father
12: Pick up reports from hospital
1.15-2.30 pm: Jazz
Evening: Dinner and maybe shopping...

I do want to slow down... I am not going out of my way to make things hectic but... there is so much to do. There is always some fire to put out... something to follow up on... somewhere to go... and many mails to send.
On Saturday I am flying to Mumbai for Rakhi since my bro is there. 14th to 21st, we are off to Leh, Ladakh, Kargil etc. It is our first trip with friends (KC's friends). Totally looking forward to it. I have been shopping for warm clothes... could not find boots and had to buy something slightly similar. I am still searching for a good jacket, even if expensive.

I want a day to myself... when I have to do nothing. I wish I had Saturdays off... really need Sats off.