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Old 25th August 2008, 15:25   #1
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Default Destiny or fate or a coincidence?

It was in 1995 that a gentleman decieded to takehis two travel crazy sons of his on a tour to the Himachal Interiors. The district of Lahaul & Spiti. It was a love affair which would lead to many a soujourns to such lands in the coming years. No where would we face any major hardships.

Then the times changed. The elder son got married and decided to take his newly weded wife to this enchanted land. The year was 2005. The going was good as the roads were recently paved and barring a few minor stretches near to Karcham the going was good. The first bad news filtered in at Rekongpeo. The road to Kaza was closed due to a landslide at Malling Nallah but there was hope that by noon the next day the road would be open for small vehicles. We drove on in the fond hope that the Gods would be merciful. The road couldnot be opened nor on that day but for the next 15 odd days as there in front of our very eyes the rock slide took the bulldozer into the freezing depths of the spiti river. That day the lower road was gone for ever and the Army started work to complete the alternate road via Nako village in full ernest. Time passed.

The year 2008. The road via Nako was complete and running smoothly with a few glitches which were being cleared on a dialy basis. The son this time decided to take along his little princess too to the fairy land. The journey began on 14th aug 2008 from Delhi. They say rains are an auspicious sign. The son firmly belived it so until that day. Stuck in traffic jam for 6 hours they could make it to the Delhi Border at 2030 hours after having started from Home at 1430 hours. The front wheel had a tear resulting in a puncture as the car waddled through numerous potholes around Azadpur Mandi. it was also the first time they had taken this route and it proved to be all too inauspicious. The spare also had a puncture and as the wife and the little one stood as mute spectators in the rains the son struggled to fix the tyres. Thankfully there was a petrol bunk which offered some shelter from the raging rain gods. Was it the worse that could happen? Little did the son knew what was in store in the days to come.

Last edited by Zappo : 26th August 2008 at 14:22. Reason: Formatted the post to make it more readable, pleasing to the eye.
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Old 25th August 2008, 15:33   #2
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Sorry to hear this. We do plan one and it turn out to be one.

Alright son, did you complete the journey. If yes, the post some moer of the travelogue and pics. ;-)
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Old 25th August 2008, 15:35   #3
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Hi Wanderernomad,

The above incidence seems to be coming out of your own experience. I am curious to know if the "son" made this trip and what happened next.

Was it a good trip?
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Old 25th August 2008, 15:43   #4
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Ya, waiting for the log about the trip made by the son. Ofcourse with the pictures
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Old 25th August 2008, 16:01   #5
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It is sad to note the planned trip didn't go as well as it ought to have. Look forward to knowing if you really made it further or returned back home?
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Old 26th August 2008, 01:28   #6
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Ouch Vikram! The start does not seem to be too nice, does it improve later?
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Old 26th August 2008, 14:09   #7
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The first break was the comfort of his home. A blisfull day with doting parents and a loving daughter put the spirits back in him and he once again began to look forward to the joys of life.

On 16th Aug he started on the trip to the land he had fallen in love with. The roads this time were bad even made worse by the continous downpours. The road as he remembered till Narkanda was just not there. Bad patches and the stretch from Matiyana was hell in itself. Broken tarmac, potholes like indoor swimming pools, boulders and slush mad going tough but then who cares for such things when you are chasing a dream!!

As the eyes looked around for familiar landmarks the dissappointment began to set in as green lush hillsides had been replaced by huge craters made into the now barren rock face. The Hydro projects had left the hill faces scarred for life. The town of Karcham had turned into a massive dam complex and once where you could sit by the side of the confluence of the serene Bhabha Khud and a turbulent Satluj, today was just a roaring torrent of muddy water and the howl of numerous construction trucks groaning under the weight of Human Progress.The roads had been turned into a mud bath and the trees had all but dissappeared.

The first night halt was at the forest guesthouse at Shongtong, about 10 kms short of Powari. The caretaker served them a piping hot Mutton curry and the things were begining to look up indeed. The guesthouse is on the banks of Satluj and is a study in art itself. The roads had been bad but the going had been smooth till now without any interruption due to the fearsome rain gods.

Morning the journey started once again at 8.30 am and the breakfast was served at a Dhaba in Powari. Aaloo Paranthas with butter. As they made their way closer still to the first expected bottleneck numerous Obeisance were paid to the dieties enroute. Tea was had at Dubling Bridge. The road and a small temple at Khab was no longer there and the road had been slightly elevated at this confluence of the mighty Satluj and the Spiti rivers. The distinction between the two river waters had dimmed due to the silt being carried by both the water bodies. The spirits soared as the Kazigs were climbed and as soon as they came on top at the village KA the romance had begun to set in.

The first sign of trouble came when a steady convoy of vehicles appeared in the distance. Upon enquiry it was told that the Malling Nullah is once again blocked since last 2 days and would only open a day after. The son decieded to make it upto Malling and see for himself if he was once again going to be denied the crossing.

Last edited by Zappo : 26th August 2008 at 14:26. Reason: Formatted for better readability
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Old 26th August 2008, 16:18   #8
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The sight on the spot was none too pleasing. To add to the misery there was no cellphone signals and the by some quirk twist of fate even the land lines were down due to a satelite glitch. The whole road was strewn with boulders and soft sand for about 10 meters. The locals were testing fate by crossing over to the other side on foot.
The pall of gloom was lifted when the GREF JE on duty confirmed that the route would be clear by next day noon. The travellers fell back to the quite village of Nako at a height of 3662 mtrs. The accomodation was secured at the IPH Rest house which had just 2 cosy rooms to offer. There were tented accomodations there as well from private concerns and were charging Rs2000 per person for the night. A few stayed back in them while others fell back to Pooh for the night.
The son alongwith his little angel decieded to trek upto the Hilltop overlooking the village and dotted with prayer flags to seek devine intervention. The two trudged up and bowed their heads and prayed to the almighty for a safe and secure crossing. The Chortans were touched and bowed to. As the twilight approached the two returned to spend a long dark night.
The sun rose bright and clear the next morning. The village had a monastry dating back about 1010 years and it was decieded to seek the holy blessings before commencing the journey. They reached the site around 12 noon only to see that the work had barely started as yet. The son strode on and stood with the GREF personnels to be one with them in that swirling dust and falling rocks to lend support. But the rocks fell ont he blindside of the dozer operator and he was working with palpalable fear. Only a few months ago a heavu duty dozer alongwith its operator was lost on the same stretch and the gruesome memories were still fresh in the minds of those risking their lives for others.
The nature is supreme and whatever effort was being put in to counter HER were proving futile. The dozer kept getting pounded with rocks and debries making the hapless operator to scurry for cover at the slightest sign of swirling dust from the slope, a sure sign of a rock slide. A heavy wind was not aiding either. The wind loossened the soft sandy soil and made it swirl up. The base once eroded can not support the heavy rocks and they start moving often gathering momentum and other rocks along the way.
The time moved with even a more agonisingly slow speed while the work moved even slower. Around 1600 hrs a ray of hope as a GREF Captain from Pooh arrived on the scene to take stock. He stood there amid falling debries and made his men stay on ground. Some progress. Another rock pushed off the road. Some noise and soon there are new rocks on the road now. The cat and mouse game continues and finaly at 1700 hrs the patience wears off.
The father deciedes to call it quits and head back home. The son is despaired and clings onto hope but when the dozer is taken off the scene and manual workers brought in, he too resigns to fate and turns around for a long trudge back home.
Noone speaks , despair is all around and the feeling of being cheated once again is heavy. As the travellers near Pooh a light shines through. Cell phones are working and they get a call from Kaza. Please get back. Tomorrow there will be another vehicle waiting at the other end to take them further. As it turns out the vehicle was there on the first day as well but the driver could not locate the travellers and hence they stood facing each other like strangers in that far away land.Ohh was it true? Finally have the GODS relented? Will they allow the humble mortals to realise the dreams on the strength of the fate of a little angel accompanying them?
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Old 26th August 2008, 16:48   #9
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Wow beautifully explained. Can understand the troubles one faces when your stuck. Time is really slow during these times adding to the frustration
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Old 26th August 2008, 20:13   #10
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Wonderful narration. While reading, almost feels like one is going through the entire gamut of experiences in real time...
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Old 26th August 2008, 20:39   #11
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Delightful!
Delightful to have an incurable romantic posting an experience! On someone else's behalf?
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Old 26th August 2008, 23:25   #12
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Amazing write-up..so vivid that I can almost see and feel your experiences.

Didn't you take any pictures of all the hard work of our jawans, officers and other volunteers when they were trying to clear the obstructions?.. and of course a picture of your little princess would lighten the episode!
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Old 27th August 2008, 00:01   #13
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Great explanation. Please continue
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Old 27th August 2008, 11:10   #14
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Thanks for all the encouraging words. I have the pictures but my computer at home was not working properly earlier. It is now. Will have the pictures up today evening.

The next day once again the sun rose bright and claded the hilss around Pooh in that golden hue which is to be seen to be believed. No one waits for the breakfast to be served, the excitement is just too much. Harried baths a cup of tea and off they go. Near Khab they encounter a bus which looks too familiar. It should they had been staring at it for the last two days at the other side of the slide. Could it be true afterall?
Yes. The road was opened for traffice at 6 the previous evening and the vehicles made to cross. Was it waiting for just these travellers to leave before relenting? Was it fate or coincidence that the blockade which had broguht life to a standstill for the last 3 days get cleared in 30 minutes once the travellers left the scene?
As they raced towards the Malling Nullah dust could be seen rising in the distance valley. Was it GREF or Malling baba at work, noone would dare to hazard a guess. They prayed and hoped that it would be the former trying to widen the road for heavy traffic.
As they turned a corner the cruel hand of fate wiped the smiles, the excitement and thier dreams in one swift stroke.
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Old 27th August 2008, 15:03   #15
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Not only was the rockslide even bigger but it was happenning right in front of their eyes. As they sat dumbfounded one large boulder after another came crashing down. Soon the there was no road left whatso ever for a stretch of about 50 meters. Everyone just sat there, including the GREF people watching the nature wreck her fury over being disturbed.
The JE ambled over and asked where had they been the previous evening as they had searched for their jeep for 10 minutes as they wanted them to be the first ones to go across. The desperation hit a new high as they had missed an opportunity they had been seeking for so long.
Was there a way across now? No way the rocks were coming down and the entire stretch looked like it had been through a shelling. Even foot crossing was no longer an option. The road was completely gutted and would require to relaid all over again which would take around 2 months.
Through the swirling mass of dust a few apparitions appeared on top of the collapsing hill. A closer scrutiny revealed them to be humans. They were scampering across the hill side near to the top to evade the falling rocks and boulders. It was something new. The son was told that only a few young locals are trying to go across that way as the risk of getting hit by a shooting stone was far less than the risk of becoming one itself at that height. Then again someone waved across the ravine and it was the driver who had come from Kaza trying to highlight his presence as this time he had miraculously located the travellers from so afar while having failed to do so two days prior from even close quarters.
A brief meeting was held with a few locals and GREF guys, who confirmed what they already dreaded. There was no way someone would be able to cross on foot here and there was no way over the top as well for anyone not fit enough to scamper and perfect in the art of climbing hills. It was decided to go back when someone suggested to use the older route. The road would lead to either side of the nallah and as per their version its width was about 50 meters and no fear of any falling stones should provide enough time for everyone to go across.
The Son decieded to amble across the top ridge and then move with the driver on the other side to the lower older route while the rest of the party would come fromt his side of the route to the village called as Maling for the transhipment. As the son moved towards the treacherous slopes another local youth joined in as there would be safety in numbers in case of either slipped. The climb up from the road was anything but simple. Both of them scampered and crawled up the first few meters on all fours till they reached some soild rock foundations where they could walk. The climb proved to be tough and the sun merciless. But the strength of finally being able to make it across goaded the son through. At some points even the rough path had given way and there were large open chasms. The entire mountainside was shudderring with the impact of being ripped apart. While the family watched in growing fear the two shadows on a dusty mountainside at 4000 mtrs desperatly tried to keep a date with their destiny.
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