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What does TRAVEL mean to me?

What is Travel? What do you mean when you say you’re a Traveller? Why do you differentiate between a Tourist and a Traveller? Aren’t they the same? I think every traveller including me is often badgered with such questions every once in a while.
When I decided to drop out of college to travel, my parents, relatives, friends and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry were ready with these in their arsenal. Being curious is acceptable, I am happy to answer all the questions to everyone’s satisfaction as long as they are just questions. But, once the switch flips and all the suggestions and unlettered pieces of advice begin flowing, it becomes irritating. Here are my responses to some of the questions I was asked and suggestions I was pestered with. Even though each person has his own views and the intricacies may vary, I think every Traveller will agree with what I have to say, considering the bigger picture.
The Questions-
What does TRAVEL mean to you?For me, Travel is a way of life. It isn’t a…

Dare To Ride: Bike Riding and it's challenges

This short blog post is especially for all biking enthusiasts planning to go on adventurous rides on off-road and challenging terrains. This was an experience that changed the way I saw bike rides through rough terrains.  Being a risk taker I consider all the possible outcomes before starting every ride, making sure I’m ready to accept any and all difficulties and face unfavourable situations no matter what. This routine probably saved my life when I got in deep trouble on my ride to Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, India.

Road conditions on the way to Gurudongmar

“HYPOTHERMIA”, everyone has heard of it. It is a condition of having an abnormally and dangerously low body temperature. A piece of advice to all the riders- While riding in freezing temperatures, NEVER let your feet get wet AT ANY COST. It is extremely dangerous and many a times, Fatal!

I came under the 2nd category

Well, a man speaks from his experiences. I almost lost my feet to Frost Bite on the way to Gurudongmar Lake. The bike tyres couldn’t get a grip on the road due to ice, black ice and mud. So, I had to get off and push it through patches of mud, ice and water streams. The freezing cold water (and ice as well!) seeped into my shoes. In the heat of the moment, ironically so, I just ignored it and kept riding without considering the after effects. The road conditions worsened and I decided to return back to the hotel. My feet were completely frozen and the hotel was 45-50 kms away. My misery doubled when a barbed wire got entangled in my rear tyre and the chain bringing my bike to a complete stand-still. So at -5°C I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with my feet frozen and my bike broken down.

The temperature en-route Gurudongmar Lake on 6/12/2016

Inspite all this, I managed to drag my bike till the entrance of an army camp. The officers at this camp, Madras Sappers (Madras Regt.) were my saviours. One of them saw me standing near the camp entrance gate shivering and trying to remove the wire. He called his colleagues and supervisor to explain my situation; who then happily took me in saying “Aap aaram kariye. Ham dekhte hai aapki bike. Aapko garmi ki zarurat hai. Andar baithkar chai-nashta lijiye. Chinta na kare, sab theek ho jayega.” (You rest while we fix your bike. You need heat. Have some breakfast. Do not worry, everything will be fine). After an hour or so of keeping my feet near the fireplace, my feet were still very cold. To ease my pain and speed up my recovery, they bought a bucket full of boiling water and put my feet in it. I felt relief in 15 minutes and regained complete sensation ion my feet. I am & will be indebted to all those officers for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, due to National Security reasons, I couldn’t take a picture with them nor can I mention the names of these silent and brave hearts serving our nation at the border selflessly, regardless of the living conditions or family.

To all the riders, experienced or newbies who plan on riding in adventurous, dangerous and challenging terrains like Spiti Valley, Pangi Valley, Ladakh, North Sikkim to name a few, I have only 1 piece of advice: “DO NOT TAKE THE CHALLENGE LIGHTLY, no matter what!” Do not take anything for granted, especially while riding through Himalayas (Karakoram and Himalaya Range). There’s a saying-“The Himalaya is different from other mountains. You treat it with respect and it’ll treat you back; disrespect it and you won’t leave unscathed.

So riders! Would you DARE TO RIDE?!


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