We decided to circumnavigate Leh at the fag end of the tourist season to do a recce on the most enigmatic land of India to dodge monkey
capped zombies and sightseeing selfie freaks. But the paragons of the seventh deadly sin that we are, the easiest mode of transport that beckoned to us like the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit was an aeroplane. We woke up at an insane morning hour of the tethered day and headed to the colossal third terminal of IGI – cribbing, swearing, loaded, excited and full of sinister plans to summon an early death...
Most adventure junkies have no idea that travelling from Delhi to Leh – from 700 feet to a whopping 11,000 – in a matter of 90 minutes by flight is as challenging and toll-taking as reaching there by road, only for different reasons. One, there are only early morning flights to the northernmost tip of the Indian airbase, which means you have to be at the airport really early. Two, gorgeous as it is, the stretch between the security gates and the runway at T3 (Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi) is like the Siberian wasteland – you keep walking and Moscow is still far away. Three, as soon as you walk out of the compression-controlled aircraft at Leh the low pressure hits you like a tonne of bricks. People start freaking out at their bleeding noses and nagging headaches, which are common. It often takes a full day for your
body to fully recover from the atmospheric shock. Four, when your biker friends come back from a trip to Leh with amazing pictures of their road trip, all you have to show them are few topographical representations of the landscape (beautiful, though) that you managed to click from your irritated neighbour’s window seat in the plane.
Luckily, we by-passed the first three challenges easily but the fourth one was something that a lethal imperative on the Facebook-driven intellects of some of us could not sidestep as easily. A change in the game plan was suggested and sealed readily, but much on it later. I had done the Ladakh ritual almost 10 years back, two among the five of us just a few months ago, and one was an absolute virgin. It is to be understood that throughout this narrative, without me mentioning it anywhere specifically, he would look at everything around with the amazement of a newborn.
During the trip, we would defy several physiological rules, including elevation sickness and short breathing, despite a tight and rigorous routine. We checked in to our hotel, around two and a half kilometres from the airport and hogged like bulimic mavericks. The next three days would be spent in shoots and everything else that had initiated our visit to the mountain desert. And once all that was over the land became our muse, our feet the chariot, our eyes the canvas of a speed painter, and spray-paint hard everything we did!