It was 1999. I was out of my college and used to stay in a Calcutta suburb. One Sunday morning in October, I got a call from a club member informing that there was a slide show in the evening.
The club was one of the many mountaineering clubs that we have in West Bengal. I had taken part in some trekkings with the club members in the past two years. This kindled the desire of travel, adventure travel to be precise, in me.
Those were the days of slides, projectors and screens. It was customary to have a slide show after every expedition or any major adventure. The slideshow would start in the evening after sunset and would run for 2-3 hours. There used to be competitions for slideshows, conducted by various adventure organisations. Members of one club would visit another, as a guest, to show slides and tell stories of their travel. There were gifted people who would tell stories in a manner that would leave the audience spellbound and mesmerized. You would be traveling with them in those faraway lands, through their slides and stories. After every such session the urge to visit those places would increase manyfold. The itch would grow so much that you will start daydreaming about those places and the desire to travel there once, would be unstoppable. Yet lesser mortals, like me, would be grinding in the search of a livelihood. The dreams would still be there, somewhere lurking beneath. It would not be identifiable individually, but would be there in you as a lump. Some or the other incident once in a while, would bring that dream out in the open. It would be rekindled and you would cherish it and then regret thinking that all the people can go and you are the only one who is left out, thinking ‘surely next time I will go’ will keep the dream alive.
That year (1999) the expedition was to Chamser Kangri in Ladakh Himalayas. It was the first time I saw Tsomoriri, albeit in pictures. Internet was scarce and available through dial up modems. Information was personal in nature and not public, like what we have now. That evening the seeds of Ladakh were sown in my heart. Good 15 years back.
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially”
Those were the opening lines of the famous Tryst with Destiny speech by Jawaharlal Nehru, which comes to my mind as I sit now in the midnight hour (11:55 PM) to pen down my Ladakh Travel.
It took 15 years to finally live my dream. Of all the time spent in between, the last six months were the most anxious one. It started with the initial reading phase, then the planning phase and then the multiple re planning and fine tuning phases.
The links below will take you to the stories from each day in the trip.
Journey is the Destination (Day 1 & 2)
Day # 3
Day # 4
Day # 5
Day # 6
Day # 7
Day # 8
Day # 9
These pictures will give you a glimpse of this journey.