In Search of Ladakh, and, George
Cyril borrows his Mom's car, meets a Greek guy called George, fails to meet up with an Israeli girl called Shira, subsequently loses George and nearly gets stranded at 15,000 ft. His journey ends in Ladakh, and, well, there are no words that can do justice.
I wanted to go up to Ladakh with my colleague Vipul so we could both work on our nature and travel portfolio for College. I borrowed my mother’s Bolero, and we set off from Dehradun. At our first stop, Kasol, we met old friends who introduced us to George. George was Greek and en route to Ladakh on his bike. He said he would join us. We offered to take some of his gear in our car and we set off. We also met an Israeli girl Shira, who wanted to join us from Manali, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet her there.
We reach Manali and Shira says she has made other arrangements with an Israeli family going all the way to Leh. We set off—George on his Enfield, us in our car. We’re making awful time cause Vipul and I cannot resist stopping every few minutes to take photographs. Understandably, George carries on assuming we will meet later on but without discussing the logistics of this. Our temperature indicator says our car is getting dangerously hot, but we ignore it and get to Jispa on day one. George is nowhere to be seen. There is no cellular network where we are and none in Leh or Ladakh. George’s extra fuel is in the back of our car.
We carry on the next day not quite sure what to do about the George situation. As we approach Zing Zang Bar (yes, it’s called Zing Zang Bar), the temperature indicator is angrily hovering at the highest level. We stop to investigate. Pop the hood and coolant—our last bottle—is literally exploding out of the car.
We are lucky, soon enough, to find a mechanic having carried on once the engine cooled. He sorts us out temporarily and we just about make it past Baracha La pass and stop at a camp. What follows is an interesting encounter involving a group of chillum-smoking guys from Punjab and a very angry proprietor (of said camp). We get some much-needed rest despite the biting cold and are off the next morning.
The temporary coolant fix still requires us to stop consistently and often turn the car in the direction of the wind to ensure it cools down quickly. We’re almost reaching Leh and we stop again to ensure the car doesn’t explode. We’re standing by the car, freezing our asses off and suddenly in the distance we see an Enfield roaring towards us.
Oh, and sitting behind him is Shira. True effin’ story.