The Story unfolds – Ladakh, a love affair with the Himalayas : Prologue

It is not everyday that the mere mention of a word brings back a barrage of emotions within you; emotions that you never knew existed within you, but there they are barging in like the monsoon clouds barge in after a pretty long spell of dryness.

It all started long back; when exactly, you ask? Well, frankly, I don’t quite remember but what I do remember is the fact that visiting new places would give me some sort of a high. And given the fact that dad was serving in the defence forces meant travelling came all but naturally to the entire family. Mom liked it too, and we all were pretty much used to this life of travel and shifting every couple of years. Now, there are two ways to look at any given thing – be optimistic and look at the positive side of it, or be the pessimistic type and keep looking for problems where perhaps none exist. We were the optimist types; we knew we had to keep shifting our base every 24 odd months, and there was no use really cribbing about it all. Looking at the brighter side of it, we pretty much looked forward to these postings as that meant being at a new place & making new friends.

Fast forward two decades, and although dad has retired from the ‘forces, but what has remained (or rather grown exponentially, if I may add) is that travel bug that he left ingrained within me since I was a kid. During my growing up years, I always had this fascination with the Himalayas, for I knew once I was an adult and independent, I would travel to the Himalayas and perhaps just go stay there. For as long as my heart yearned. But, given how life turns out to be (we all know, don’t we), things do not always go according to how we plan, if ever.

I, like most of us, fell into that deep pit; studies, work, family, etc. And somehow travel took a back-seat, or atleast that’s how it seemed. Years passed by, and  I did not even realize what I was missing out until one day, I was browsing through some random internet website and I again stumbled upon this beautiful picture of the Leh city photographed from the Shanti Stupa. Then and there I knew what I was missing. And then, all of a sudden, I felt this ‘dry spell’ just ended. I felt like I had been given a new life; a life filled with excitement, a life filled with exploration, where I’d discover new places, meet new people and hopefully make new friends. And bring back memories which I shall cherish for the rest of my life.

Although, for many years thereafter, I could not really get any opportunity to goto Ladakh, but travel I did, to all the places this country has to offer, especially up North in the Himalayas. I ended up exploring Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand extensively, and absolutely loved every bit of it. I’d just pack my bags and leave whenever I had some free time on my hands, and I absolutely enjoyed that excitement, that carefree life that I was leading. I still travel to the places which remain to be explored, I still leave at a moment’s notice, but with time, I dare say, I have become a tad more responsible or perhaps that is how I would want to describe it.

Travelling became a part and parcel of my regular life, but somehow Ladakh still eluded me. Big time. And I knew, I had to go there. Soon…

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