Ride de Shinku La

𝙳𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚁𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚜, 𝙸 𝚊𝚖 𝚍𝚎𝚕𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚑𝚘𝚜𝚝 𝙲𝚊𝚙𝚝 𝙹𝚊𝚒𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚝 𝙹𝚘𝚜𝚑𝚒 𝚘𝚗 𝚖𝚢 𝚋𝚕𝚘𝚐 𝚝𝚘𝚍𝚊𝚢. 𝙹𝚊𝚒𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚏𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚌 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊 𝚠𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚏𝚞𝚕 𝚏𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚜𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚑𝚒𝚖. Catch him at Insta @capt.jaipreetjoshi / http://www.fitcomb.com / twitter : @fitcomb

Introduction

The evil tentacles of Covid19 held our heads down for long but now in Oct 2020 after things had started easing out we also planned  a much awaited ride . Also, the Atal Tunnel at an altitude of 10,000 ft was recently inaugurated and made open for the public and I thought of being one of the first few to ride through it.

The Plan 

I zeroed down on Shinkhu La or Shongo La which lies at an altitude of 16,703 ft linking Zanskar and Lahaul as it is one of the most unheard of passes and wanted to nail it before it becomes commercialised like another ‘Pangong Tso’ courtesy (sic) ‘Three Idiots’ (a bollywood blockbuster). The plan was quickly scribbled :

Day 1 – Gurgaon – Kullu 

Day 2 – Kullu – Manali

Day 3 – Manali – Shinkhu La – Manali

Day 4 – Manali – Swarghat

Day 5 – Swarghat – Gurgaon 

Total Distance – 1500 kms 

My dear friend and martial arts student Shridhar Sinha was itching to ride to the hills and hence this plan of a hill ride crystalized so quick.

Prep

Post plan acceptance , it was time to prep our machines for this challenging ride from 600 ft of pure non sense to 17000 feet of heavenly glory. Since mine is a carbureted machine , I did not forget to carry a few small size main jets to cope with the high altitude sickness called fluttering and loss of power. A set of spare tubes and Motul tube inflator was catered to also. Complete overhaul and check was carried out post which we shopped for some snacks , energy bars, meds and other essentials.Winter wear was also dug out and shown some sun , riding boots cleaned and polished . We were now fully prepped or at least that is what we consented on and now it was time to kick off.

D Day (Gurgaon – Swarghat / 370 kms / 10 hrs)

Captains log started on 9th Oct 2020, RV for start was opposite Suncity at 0530 hrs but Shridher got delayed by 30 min hence we kick started at 0605 hrs .The nip was in the air and the feeling of riding in the nice cool breeze was elevating. Karnal byepass was crossed in less than an hour and we were now zipping on NH1 which had by now swelled up with traffic. We meandered our way through and stopped for breakfast at Aman Dhaba near Sonipat. Post a light meal comprising of butter toasts and tea we resumed our journey. It was now around 4 pm and we were nearing Swarghat after intercepting a farmers agitation  near Ropar which delayed us by good 45 minutes. It also coincided with my RE riding boots tearing open (probably due to non usage for long). Paid Rs 120/ to get the wide open lips of my boots stitched together as I had no other option available. Since we were in no hurry to reach Manali, we decided to anchor at the Hilltop Hotel at around 1600 hrs.. What followed was a small stroll through the local market where we picked 2 cans of Budweiser to celebrate day 1 of the ride . Dinner comprised of Chicken Rarha and we hit the bed early.

Day 2 (Swarghat – Manali / 240 kms / 6.5 hrs) 

Manali was now about 240 kms but we decided to start at leisure and then reach there by eve. But our plan changed as soon as I read a message from my unit officer Col Amitabh , Shaurya Chakra (my first company commander) to join him for lunch at his place at 1330 hrs . I treated this like a dictat and how could I even say ‘no’ to my senior officer who was extending himself so wholeheartedly , so we hurried up and finally started off at 0700 hrs. From Mandi we took the more cleaner and definitely much picturesque route through Katoula to Bhuntar and then Manali. The road was meandering and left almost no scope to overtake but it was very much worth all the efforts out in.At 1345 hrs we were at Manali Green Cess Collection Point, another 20 min and we were knocking at ‘Ambrosia’ , Amy sir’s (Col Amitabh) cottage built out of pure love and passion standing tall in the village of Kaniyal about 600 ft above Manali town.We had some beer to wash down the sumptuous meal prepared by Sudha mam’ , who is one amazing cook and a very warm and jovial hostess. By the time we finished the meal and were about to take some rest we were told by them to join them for a dinner hosted by Border Roads to celebrate the inauguration of the Atal Tunnel. It was a wow feeling to be amidst the entire team of engineers and military officers who made this dream come together as a formidable team in a resort on the left bank of Beas. It was a sheer pleasure to hear about the insights into the making of history at 10,000 ft by none other than the Chief Engineer (Project) – Atal Tunnel , Mr K P Purushothaman. It was an evening well spent but we decided to call it off a little early to prepare ourselves for the ride next day to Shinku La , also known as Shingo La .

Day 3 (Kaniyal , Manali – Atal Tunnel – Darcha – Shingo La / 140 kms / 5 hrs)

Though we started early to cross the tunnel before its maintenance shut down from 0900 hrs to 1000 hrs but we got a little delayed at the Manali Gas Station due to some Paytm payment not showing credited into the account of the Fuel Station but getting debited from mine. The lesson learnt was to either pay in cash or card to ensure immediate remittance. We somehow managed to reach the entry point just before time. 

We were feeling absolutely heavenly riding through this work of art at 10,000 ft stretching at 9.02 kms. We soon passed through the tunnel and steered our way towards Sissu. The ride on the newly constructed road through Tandi , Keylong , Jispa and Darcha was a sheer pleasure where we zipped past 80 Kmph on the odo. We took a well deserved halt at Darcha over momos and thukpa after getting ourselves registered at the Darcha Police Post. The next 2 hrs of ride from Darcha to Shingo La was not only arduous but challenging. The stretch is about 40 kms which winds through gravel, rocks and dry patches. The turns are sharp and some of them hair pin tight . Maintaining momentum acquires significance or it becomes very tough waddling the bike up hill with depleted oxygen levels.

Shingo La Pass is at a height of about 17000 ft with piercing wind chill making it tough to stand tall for long. Since the rider with me – Shridher reached after about half hour, I had a terrible time weathering the strong cold winds. As soon as he joined me we clicked a few pictures and shot some video to fall back quickly as the cold winds were torturous. We started back at 2 pm and took our first halt at Darcha over a cup of tea. Another cup of tea and sandwiches happened at Tandi Transit Camp as the Officer Commanding was my Army course-mate and there was no way I could miss out on him. Having done with the adieus and good byes we resumed our ride , overtook a beeline of cars waiting to get back to Manali and beyond through the tunnel. By about 1920 hrs we made it back to Amy sirs’ Ambrosia, took a nice hot water shower in his state of art bathroom which can give any upscale condominium in Gurgaon a run for its money. Having washed away the fatigue, we clinked our glasses to cheers and had some amazing food over loads of chit chat. Finally we retired at around 2350 hrs.

Day 4 (Manali – Swarghat / 225 kms /6.5 hrs)

We took the standard route via Pandoh – Mandi – Bilsapur – Swarghat which for sure was a pathetic decision. With loads of road construction work enroute, the ride back to Swarghat was actually bone crushing and equally so for our bikes, Tired and battered, we called it a day at Swarghat where we chilled ourselves over Budweiser and some nice mixed veggies and egg bhurji. It was goodnight at 2130 hrs to prepare for the final home run.

Day 5 (Swarghat – Kharar – Mohali – Dera Bassi – Ambala – Panipat – Delhi – Gurgoan / 350 kms / 7 hrs)

The early birds hit the roads at 0600 hrs to avoid crazy traffic being a working day. I was zipping past on open stretches and crossed Mohali at 0800 hrs. Thereafter there was no stopping and I took my first stop 10 kms short of Ambala. Next was a refuelling break near Karnal. I entered Delhi at around 1130 hrs but the traffic at Karnal Bye Pass was maddening. I meandered through the loads of vehicles on the dusty, grimy roads and hit home at 1300 hrs sharp.

Thanked God for a safe, no trouble, one amazing ride to Shinku La !

Buddha and the Angry Man

Once Gautam Buddha was traveling from a village. Everyone was happy to see him and heard his speeches with lots of dedication. However, one young man was not at all happy to see him in the village. He believed Buddha to be a fake master fooling the masses.


“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”


While Buddha was delivering his speech, the man stood and started shouting in a very rude manner. Buddha did not pay any attention to him and continued speaking without bothering about him. This made the young man angrier.

He came in front of Buddha and facing him, he began insulting, “You have no right to teach anything to others. You are as stupid as everyone else. Stop fooling everyone. You are fake.!!”

The followers of Buddha tried to overpower that man. But Buddha stopped them and said, “It is not always necessary to counter aggression by aggression.”

Then he turned to the young man with a smile and asked, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same as your anger.

If you become angry with me and I do not feel insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

The man understood the message and he felt embarrassed.

A Girl and the Opera

Eight-year-old Gillian was not doing well in school. The fidgety girl underperformed in tests, had trouble writing legibly and continually missed assignment deadlines. She could also be a disruptive presence in class. Sometimes she would be so inattentive that it was as if she wasn’t really there. 

She probably had a learning disorder and needed to change schools, moving to one that catered for kids with special needs. At least, this was the thinking that Gillian’s current school outlined in a letter sent to her parents. Gillian herself didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. She was just a regular child, albeit a restless one. 

But her mother and father were anxious about her educational prospects. This happened in the 1930s, long before Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) became a catchphrase to explain children’s behavioural issues. There were also no options of medicating Gillian into obedience. Instead, a psychological assessment seemed to be the best course of action. Upon entering the psychologist’s intimidatingly formal oak-panelled office, Gillian fell into a big leather chair and tried not to squirm too much. The psychologist, who stared unnervingly at Gillian the whole time, questioned her mother at length. Eventually, the doctor came over to the girl and said that he and her mother needed to step outside for a few minutes. Before leaving, he turned on a radio that sat on his desk. 

The psychologist took Gillian’s mother into the corridor, where they both stood at a window that allowed them to look into the office discreetly. The doctor said they were just going to watch the girl for a few minutes. As the adults looked on, Gillian got up from the chair and started dancing gracefully around the room, moving in time to the music from the radio, a look of bliss lighting up her face. The psychologist turned to Gillian’s mother and told her that there was nothing wrong with her daughter—she just wanted to dance.

He was right. When Gillian walked into her first dance class soon afterwards, she found herself surrounded by kindred spirits—people who, like her, loved being in motion. She worked hard in class and practised at home. 

She was eventually accepted into London’s Royal Ballet School. Four decades later, after many successes as a performer and choreographer, she choreographed Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, two of the most successful musicals ever staged. Had Gillian been deemed a problem child, she may never have found her calling. But because she was encouraged to be herself, she experienced a lifetime of joy.

Gillian Lynne at the Olivier Awards in 2013.

Photos & information credit : Google and Wikipedia.

Letting Go of the Past : Monk and the Burden

Two MONKS were walking from their monastery to another one nearby. One was an old wise monk and the other was a novice, an apprentice monk. As they walked in silence, they came across a river. Unseasonal rains had caused the river to run high. On the banks of the river was a young lady in a kimono, not sure whether it was safe for her to cross. When she saw the two monks, she looked relived and asked for help. 

The young monk was aghast. He exclaimed, ‘Don’t you see that I am a monk? I took a vow of chastity.’ ‘I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply a little help to cross the river,’ the young woman replied with a smile. ‘I will not . . . I can . . . do nothing for you,’ said the embarrassed young monk. 

At this point, the elderly monk stepped forward and said, ‘Climb on to my back and I’ll help you cross.’ Upon reaching the other side, the old monk put the lady down. She thanked him and he responded with a ‘welcome’. With that, he started walking towards his destination. 

The young apprentice was agitated. ‘How could you do this? This is against our order. You are supposed to be my mentor. You are supposed to show me the way. When we return, I am going to ask them to change my mentor.’ 

The young monk went on and on till they reached the next monastery. 

On reaching the gate, the old monk paused, looked at the young monk and said, ‘I did carry the lady, but I put her down on the banks of the river. It seems like you are still carrying her.’


The empathy of the old monk to put the needs of the maiden before his own spiritual practice, and his spiritual ability to then let go of the fact that he had strayed from the path of his spiritual commitment, without feeling guilty, is a lesson for all of us.

We mustn’t allow our past actions to affect our current life, because letting go of the past is necessary to truly thrive our future. 

Covid19 and Virtual Learning

“The ones who will stay in the game will be those who survive.” Its time that we endure the testing times and sustain to be able to bounce back.”

I have come across a lot of so called professionals who have switched from one trade to another, nothing wrong in it . Then there were host of individuals turned entrepreneurs who got into ppe’s probably with an intent to survive or if it may not sound rude make some money out of the situation. Expertise or no expertise , some just tried to ride the wave but every wave settles down sooner or later . People realized that dupattas , scarves , hankeys and the likes were doing a fairly decent job and that a N 95 was actually needed by the first responders. 

The new normal is ‘virtual’ and ‘digital’. But if may not be wrong in saying that its just a polite word , what we are actually referring to is the ‘abnormal‘. We always learnt that ‘man is a social animal’ but unfortunately today we are pressed upon with ‘social distancing.’ Will this animal survive in soliloquy , well I have my doubts.

Do what you do best , do not let the fear of survival whither you like a dry leaf. Be strong, adapt the change and survive!

About Author

Capt Jaipreet Joshi is Stephanian turned Army Officer, Security Professional, Martial Artist, Corporate Trainer Combatant , Rally Rider, Cyclist. A learner at heart.

Connect with him on Twitter @fitcomb or website : www.fitcomb.com