Indulging my senses, on the road!

Toshy: Sigh.
Canary: What happened Tosh?
Toshy: We have known each other for more than twelve years and the number of times we get to see each other in a year can be counted on the fingers of one hand…
Canary (sudden realization and lingering gloom): That’s so true! I’m so surprised I did not think of this!
Toshy: Even now we’re probably talking because you wanted the contact of this old colleague urgently, else we would have just continued sending those cursory hellos on chat like always.
Canary: Yeah, but I refrain from calling you because you’re so busy ever since you got married.
Toshy: I agree and I’m not blaming you at all, but that’s not the point…
Canary: Yes, I know what you’re saying…
Toshy: Let’s do something man.
Canary: Yes, we must! We have to!
Toshy (After a thoughtful pause): We will keep talking and planning like we always do na? Nothing will come out of it na?
Canary: Sigh.

The conversation ended but my thoughts didn’t. Work and family responsibilities tend to pile over you and make you a walking talking robot. You are racing against time to finish things and taking a deep breath becomes a luxury. Though we would like to make an active choice to give more time to our friends, it is something that is most easily relegated to the background. There seem to be just not enough hours in the day and before you know it old friends slowly drop out of the picture because of one or many reasons like moving away, busy with work or a new family, etc. Year after year, we meet old friends and say “Let’s catch up!”, “We must meet.”, “Come home!”, but then life takes over and soon we realize that these are just rhetorical statements that don’t mean much to either party…

But why! This time I decided that our statement will mean something. They will not be plain platitudes. But what can we do? As if on an impulse, I went to my book collection to find the answer to this elusive question…

And what I found first is the iconic book “On the road” by Jack Kerouac. On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience.

At one point, Jack beautifully says, “I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

And there! I had my answer! I will plan a road trip with all my friends! With all my best friends as companions, this will be the trip of a lifetime! This will be a trip of re-connecting, remembering, laughing, sharing and re-establishing lifelong bonds.

Now all I needed was a spontaneous burst of ideas. Some willing co-conspirators. Music to act as the perfect mood setter. Food to keep the energy sky-high. Conversations and fun sailing everyone through in the coolest way. And to top it all, a mean machine to cruise like a bazooka when needed or sail like a yacht at other times! What else do you need anyway to have the time of your life? To do things you won’t do otherwise? To go on that perfect rocking road trip! To trade the monotony of my daily routine for the excitement of the open road. Here’s my perfect road trip right from the time I jump into the car to the time I return home satiated and grinning from ear to ear:

The route:
Delhi to Manali to Leh (990km)
Ladakh is a stark contrast for all your senses. There is a vibrant visual juxtaposition of colors from the deep blue to the earthen brown, paradox of sounds from the peaceful chants to the gushing rivers and plethora of surfaces from the cools waters to the rough hills. The aromas of green and yellow fields laden with fresh fruit, gentle foliage and Himalayan culinary delicacies in homes you encounter on the way will enchant your nose pretty much how ambi pur does in your car!

Delhi to Manali is your regular roads, easy to navigate and comfortable for your body and senses. Manali to Leh is where the thrill starts. Being one of the toughest and highest roads to navigate in the world, this route challenges you to the core. The Manali-Leh road only opens in June, when the Border Road Organisation (BRO) begins clearing snow. Ofcourse that’s also the time when you get flights from Delhi directly to Leh, but you pretty much miss most of the fun, not getting to witness the wonders that the road trip offers. Further from Manali, Rohtang Pass offers breathtaking views. You can see the Beas and Chandra rivers cruising peacefully. You can see Himalayan peaks standing tall all around you. The highest pass you’ll encounter is Taglang La at 5,359m, after which you begin the descent to Leh.

The destination:

The first time I went to Ladakh, we flew, and I fell in love instantly with this serene mystic mountain land. The people, the food, the hospitality and the terrain, everything joins together to give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But, this time I am surely driving down. This will be the classic Himalayan road trip. Ladakh is the land of high passes, is at the extreme northern end of India also known as the Trans Himalayan region. Even the low valleys in the region for example the Nubra Valley are actually at very high altitudes, like Nubra is at 10, 500ft. Travelling at these heights, the massive snow clad peaks do not tower over you but they make you feel warm and welcome. If you stretch your hand, you can touch their course but inviting texture. The revitalizing atmosphere, the clear blue skies, the star studded night sky and the mystical patterns in the mountains enchant you from the onset and linger in your memories for many days.

The car:
TATA Xenon Ex Crew Cab. I am a huge fan of pick-up trucks. With their easy utility, seating + loading capacity and rugged exterior, they take the trip experience to the next level. This TATA car is the ideal transport for my road trip. With its power Steering, strong body, top speed, great suspension and overall reliability, I feel it will take on the mountain roads well. This may not be a typical mountain car, but I am looking at making this a large friends’ road trip and I need a vehicle which can accommodate people and our gear. We will be equipped with tents, outdoor equipment, cooking things and sleeping bangs; and will need enough space to house it all.

The fun along the way:
With a loud uproarious gang, my road trip will be ultimate in the fun quotient. I plan to keep several games handy for the way so that the non-drivers can stay entertained throughout. There will be classic games like dumb charades, antakshari and 20 questions. Plus there will be Geography where you start with any place in the world--Jaipur for example. The next person has to think of a place that begins with the last letter of "Jaipur," such as "Russia." Whoever goes next needs a place that starts with an A. You may not use the same place twice in a game--and it has to be a real place.

The other game would be Rock, Paper, Scissors: Two players each put one hand behind their backs. Each person turns that hand into a scissors, using the index and middle fingers; or paper, by holding the hand flat with the fingers straight; or a rock, by making a fist. Both players say "One, two, three," and show their hands. The scissors beats paper because it cuts paper. Paper wins over rock because it can wrap up the rock. And rock beats scissors because it makes them blunt.

The music:
How can any road trip be complete without some good driving music? I am in the process of compiling some awesome music at the moment and below are the initial picks:

1. Dil Chahta Hai from Dil Chahta Hai. The movie that brought road trips back, of course before Zindagi na milegi dobara totally made them mainstream and rocking. Vocals by Shankar Mahadevan, from the debut album of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. What say?

2. Country Roads by John Denver. This is an oldie but, a good one to hit the highway with. Mellow and moving, this song just seems to make the ride smoother. You can find this cool road trip song on the John Denver's Greatest Hits CD or at lots of places on the internet.

3. Already Gone by The Eagles. This song is a rocking classic that is fun to listen to while driving or even at home. The Eagles are an evergreen band and anyhow most of their songs remind you of the retro magic.
4. Fuel by Metallica. A fast, fun and crazy hard rocking song that makes you want to go Fast! A few of my friends are rock lovers and this one is for all of them!
5. Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechaara from Jewel Thief. Dev Anand in this classic melody! Kishore Kumar does the singing honors, with music by S. D. Burman and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
6. Long Way Home by Supertramp. A gentle and memorable road trip song that is calm yet, wandering down the road with you, as you go. This song has a deep resonance about it and sets the mood for a meaningful journey.
7. Ye Ishq haai from Jab we met: The song in which Aditya (Sahid Kapoor) drives up Geet (Kareena Kapoor) so she can be united with her boyfriend Anshuman (No idea about the name of that actor!). I am including this here because my drive will also be through the Himalayan mountains and hopefully meeting some warm beautiful Himalayan mountain people on the way.

The tentative dates for the trip would be around the Independence Day holidays, given how apt the August-September time frame is for a trip to this region. It also gives me ample time to plan the logistics. Write to me/ leave a comment if you would like to join with your city and perhaps this may be a great opportunity for you to find some new friends and experience this astonishing journey!

Moments stolen from life
To hold hands of those you care for
A journey taken together
For memories to last you a lifetime
Laughter, tears, secrets exchanged
Tea, maggi, candies shared
What is life if you lost friends
What is life if you didn’t pause
On the road secrets unfold
Going out discover yourself
After searching the whole world
Find happiness right here

(p.s. Ambi pur has inspired this entry. Go check out their Facebook page for more! 
Please do leave a comment if you enjoyed reading about my road trip!)


Akshita Gupta said…
The post makes the trip sound beautiful and pleasant.
Nice blog.
Can we follow each other?
(It's a new blog on crimes against women)
Canary said…
Thanks Akshita! yes, yes, let us!! :)

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