Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Train journey : Bangalore - Delhi

Last night I had my lower berth exchanged for a side lower seat to help a family sit together. I was also lucky to get my favorite berth, love to just sit here and enjoy the travel through the window. Woke up by 6am today, apparently we had just crossed secundrabad...had Tea served in a short while, made myself a cup of black tea. Nothing to complain about the tea but still missing the cardamom flavored ones available in my office pantry :D

One thing I noticed was there was nothing special about Rajdhani, the coaches were infact in a bad condition with excessive vibration and there were no individual reading lamps for the berths. Time for breakfast and had two bread slices and an omlette with another round of tea. Quickly flicked through the newspaper, situation in JK is still glum, India in a really bad position in the first test..looks like Murali will polish off India and complete his 800. Started the 'tropic of cancer', a controversial and fictional autobiography of Henry Miller...immediately impressed by the writing and the author's sense of humor.

Most of the morning I alternate between short naps and few more pages in the book. Kind of relaxed and infact I had stopped thinking about my trip plans and the worse weather conditions after manali. There are two ways to do the Ladakh trip from Delhi, one via manali and returning through Srinagar, second was to do it in the reverse. The Manali route is the most famous one and known for its breathtaking beauty. This one though was a lot more risky thanks to the heavy rains this season. For the first two weeks of July Rohtang pass (50km from Manali) had come to a standstill due to the landslides and hundreds were left stuck on either sides of it...even more scary, supposedly 2 of them had died due to cold/altitude/lack of proper food. I should thank the members of BCMTouring.com for their constant updates of the road conditions there.

We were tempted to use the srinagar route, but finally decided to try the manali route as we had enough days in case of surprises and the beauty of this route made it an easy decision. After lunch I was reviewing some of our trip plans, maps and thinking about the days which had too much distance to cover. Started chatting with the two families which were in my compartment section. Bhooshan and Syan, both in their early 40s were with their families. Bhooshan was returning to Delhi for a vacation and Syan was taking his daughter back to Ambala for the year end holidays.

They both were from the Airforce and to my excitement Bhooshan had been incharge of the Forest and Snow survival  coaching unit at Rohtang for a few years. His job was to train new recruits in survival skills and techniques. He was checking the safety gear and equipments which we were planning to carry. I had a thorough ground work done on winter clothing/gear and equipments to carry for the trip, courtesy my colleague Vishwa, BCMT and IndiaMike websites. Bhooshan was appreciative that we are better prepared. He was also giving tips on motorcycle riding in the hills there, do not use clutch or stay in neutral during a descend, be ware of oncoming traffic in blind curver. Few interesting tips were, not to get drunk with strangers as they might strip you off everything!...restrain from using 1,2,3 channels in walkie talkie, due to frequent military usage of them.

Syan was more interested n my camera, learned that he is interested in photography. Showed him how to use my SLR, the controls-zoom-focus-shoot and he was quick to grasp and started clicking away happily, had a small photo session....showed them some of my pictures I had in my samsung P3, they really loved the pics from Swara's birthday party, it was my team lead's daughter's birthday party.
Link to the flickr album : Swara's Birthday Party

Both Bhooshan and Syan had a look at our trip itinerary and expressed concerns with our attempt at Delhi to Manali 500kms in the same day. Recommended us to split it into two days as the last 200kms will be tricky due to ghat sections. I felt they were correct and no point in stressing right at the start of the trip, so getting prepared to use the free days we had in our plan to accommodate this modification.

Had dinner as the last serving in the journey, will reach Delhi before 6 am tomorrow. Tipped the pantry people for their service. The pantry service was one advantage of this journey, especially for solo travelers as there is to need to worry about food. Got the contact details of both Syan and Bhooshan.. they too wished me good luck for Mission Ladakh 2010! Corssed Bhopal by 10pm and went to entire train went to sleep. Put my favorite playlist on and sleep had come within 2 songs.

Peaceful and quite productive day it had been. Have to do a lot of things tomorrow, including some pending work for the technical paper :-)

1 comment:

  1. So Bhooshan become a good friend and good trek advisor for you. Fine... So what's hot the next day?