I am a mother of two and was a working professional when I began travelling extensively. At 38, I was discovering the joy of travelling – packing for the trip, taking a train or bus, reaching some place and exploring it, eating local food and mingling with the people of the region – that was the extent of the ‘adventure’ I was comfortable with.
I wasn’t the archetype adrenalin junkie; I didn’t want to sky dive or paraglide, or bungee jump or scuba dive. To me, that kind of adrenalin rush would be hard to handle.
I remember the first time I undertook a hike. The thrill of reaching the top was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I was 38 and not in the best shape, but the climb brought out a certain determination in me that had lain undiscovered until then. It was like deciding that I would give birth to both my children naturally. The energy, the stamina and the gumption I needed appeared when I needed it the most and lo behold!
That was the beginning and as I began to step more and more out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries – from roadtrips across the remote Lahaul Spiti districts to chasing the Kerala monsoon or biking across Kangra and Chamba districts of Himachal on a Royal Enfield – every trip offered me unexpected adventures and thrills.
One adventurous incident that I recall in particular occurred when I was on a roadtrip in one of India’s most remote areas – Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur, located in Himachal Pradesh.
I was with a friend on this 1700 km trip and we had driven on some nightmarish roads that caused one of our vehicle’s tyres to burst. But that was not all. On the return leg, we got stuck in a landslide, without food and with limited water, but adequate internet connectivity!
We were driving in Kinnaur hoping to make up for the time we’d lost with the torn tyre, when we reached a spot called Pankhi/Pangi Nala. The treacherous road was blocked and we were told that there was a “rock shower” somewhere up ahead. A little later a few men who had walked to the landslide area returned with the news that it is “Too dangerous to go ahead.” It was nearing 8 pm and we could not risk going back 3-4 hours on the treacherous road again to the nearest village where we were certain there’d be no hotels.
We had to take a call, which was made for us as we, in the feeble glow of our headlight saw loose rocks sliding down from a slope a few metres away from us. A truck parked in its path was hastily backed up as we backed up too.
So like the other vehicles, we decided to find a ‘safe’ parking place for the night. We had nothing but our instinct to rely on as it was too dark to see if the range we had parked under consisted of loose rocks that could fall and damage our vehicle.
We were compelled to spend the night inside the car in the sub zero temperature (thankfully we’d carried sleeping bags), with nothing but moonlight and the sound of the river raging below us ‘somewhere’ for company, along with the other stranded vehicles of course, as we waited for daylight and the men who would come clear the rubble. The path was finally cleared at 9 am and we drove another 30 minutes before we found a place to have a proper meal.
But ask me if I would do it again, and you’ll hear a resounding ‘Yes!’ Because these adventures have helped shape me into the traveller I am; one who is prepared for eventualities and one who knows how to appreciate the unexpected.
The landslide pic is in the grid below.