Through the storm!
- 23 Aug 2018
"I got my US visa about two months ago and that day, I decided that I would do a celebration India ride covering 5,000 kilometres across the country. My family is usually worried about bike-riding but this time they let me go because I was moving out anyway. I covered Hyderabad to Delhi in two days and met a friend in Delhi who was going to accompany me. We rented a bike and the next day, we started to Jammu at 6 am. We wanted to ride on Khardung La - the highest road in the country. That was where we came across our first obstacle. The local police and military stopped us from going via Srinagar because of a curfew. After a couple of hours of requests and calls, a police told us about an alternative road. Our discussion was only about the road being slightly isolated. But turned out, it was a five feet road for 600 km that takes about three days to cover. There was no petrol pump, servicing centre, signal, hotels, nothing! With every kilometre, the toughness of the road increased. Our bike was tank full, but that could take us only 400 km. When we started, we had no idea about all this. At the end of the first day, we stopped at a village, which was in the middle of a thick forest. It was so dark that when we switched on our headlamp, it seemed like we lit up the whole forest. People in one of the houses offered to let us in and also give us some food. Although it was a relatively big village, there was no electricity or petrol pump. At nights, the temperature would fall to -10°C. My friend and I would heat up the bike engine and hold it for a few minutes and then cover our face with our hands for the heat. It was so cold that the engine didn’t even burn. It was only mildly hot.
Meanwhile, my parents back home thought I was dead, not kidding! I last spoke to them when I was in Jammu and told them about the curfew and terrorist attack in Srinagar. A lot of my relatives were home and trying to contact people in Srinagar for some information. For three days, this was the scene. After traversing the road, we reached a state highway and finally went to Khardung La. But it was nothing! Nothing after the all that travelling in the last three days. The highest road seemed like a joke in front of how narrow and dangerous that way was. I wouldn’t even call it a road. Of course, I finally called my parents and they breathe a relief. But those three days were some of the best days of my life. Away from everybody, on a lonely road with hardly any hope of getting out. We had no idea how far we reached or how much was left to cover. Life seemed to be at an end. That moment, I thought of all my loved ones and about life in general. Despite being risky, it was such a great experience. No amount of conversation or explaining will give you even a small idea of how it felt. Those three days were personal, each and every experience was truly my own. "
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