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Old 4th June 2010, 15:12   #31
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Nice way this is shaping up, Deky. And hats off to your amazing memory!
Desrves 5*, given 5*.
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Old 4th June 2010, 15:55   #32
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Love start Dhirajji!!!
You are a great story teller and your experiences, be it the sinking cruise ship or Kailash or the mountain trek, are so amazing. I am glued to this thread now waiting for updates
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Old 4th June 2010, 17:06   #33
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Dhirajji, Awesome stuff. Please keep it coming.

I envy you for having such an adventurous life.

BTW could you tell us how long did it take those days to travel between Leh / Nimmu and Kargil?

P.S.: Voted 5 stars
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Old 4th June 2010, 19:06   #34
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Originally Posted by Hurrycane12 View Post
Great write up Deky. Waiting for more to come
Thank you, will be posting the next chapter soon.

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Nice memoirs Deky.
It's amazing that most of us can remember all things from our childhood but forget what happened yesterday!
Rated 5*! Waiting eagerly for the rest of the chapters!
Thank you for the rating. Yes, you absolutely right. Some memeories never fade!!

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Nice way this is shaping up, Deky. And hats off to your amazing memory!
Desrves 5*, given 5*.
Thank you Sir!!!

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Love start Dhirajji!!!
You are a great story teller and your experiences, be it the sinking cruise ship or Kailash or the mountain trek, are so amazing. I am glued to this thread now waiting for updates
Thank you!!

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Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Dhirajji, Awesome stuff. Please keep it coming.

I envy you for having such an adventurous life.

BTW could you tell us how long did it take those days to travel between Leh / Nimmu and Kargil?

P.S.: Voted 5 stars
Thank you for the rating. If I remember correctly it took us around 10 hrs to reach Kargil from Nimmu including stops at a few places. Leh- Kargil - Dras highway was ok'ish. The other roads especially to Pangong Tso was a nightmare. On our way to the lake we perpetually were traveling on rocks and boulders all the time. The road leading to Zanskar valley was bad but not as bad as what the road to Pangong was.

On the leh-kargil highway we did not find any traffic due to the following reasons
  • in the beginning of June Zoji La was not open hence truck convoys had not started.
  • In the end June when the traffic started and we were to return from Kargil back to Leh, dad organised it in such a way that we were not caught in the convoy's plus a good thing about being in an army vehicle is that you are not stopped even if a convoy is passing.
  • there was no private vehicles/ taxis running on roads as permits were required even for Indian nationals at that time.
Hope this answers your question.
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Old 4th June 2010, 21:30   #35
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Default Chapter Four: Horse Riding And Hockey

Luckily in the one month I spent in Kargil the weather was very predictable, hence we could plan our days much in advance. If we were not going out for sight seeing, the day used to be a pretty routine day
On a typical day the mornings for us used to start at around 0630 hrs and mornings always were bright and sunny. After having our breakfast by 0800 hrs my sister used to get down to her studies and I after gazing the mountains and Suru used to proceed to the units recreation room. By 1000 hrs it used to get pretty warm hence best was to be indoors. Mario brother’s and table tennis used to keep me busy for couple of hours.

Around noon I used to return to the officers mess and watch a movie on the VCR, I must have watched Baap numbari to Beta dus Nambari almost a ten times as that was the only cassette available in the mess. Lunch was served to the officers and the families at 1300hrs and by 1400 hrs we and after that we used to get back to our accommodation for a siesta.

Between 1400 hrs and 1600 hrs it used to get very very windy, the wind velocity was so high that sometime it threatened to blow you off, so the best was to seek shelter inside.

Evening time the recreation room was closed for the families as it was the jawans time that time. After the siesta 1600 hours was time for horse riding and 1700 hrs was time field hockey with the bhaiyya‘s of our unit. By 1800 hrs it used to start getting chilly and by the time the sun vanished it used to get pretty cold.

All Families gathered in the mess between 1900hrs to 1945 hrs for drinks and snacks, and by 2000hrs dinner was served. Mess timings were strict and had to be followed without any exception. Also especially during dinner, we had to dress properly. By properly I do not mean formals but proper clothes without any slippers or sandals. By 2130 hrs all the units lights were switched off hence by 2115 hrs we used to get into our beds and sleep.

HORSE RIDING

I had learnt horse riding when my Dad was posted in Nasik. Not that I ever considered myself a good rider but I could more or less control the horse nicely. For a few days the riding went on well, the horse allotted to me was getting used to me and I was getting used to him. Usually we were supposed to just go round and round in the horse ring but seeing my progress, I was allowed to take the horse out on trails, with an instructor of course. One fine day I was told that my horse was unavailable due to not being well and I was allotted a different horse.

I was confident I could handle him, but just to make sure I built a bond with him I gave him the jaggery that we used to feed the horse after the ride, before mounting on him. I trotted him within the ring for the first few minutes. Everything seemed fine and the horse was responding well. Next stage was to start the gallop and I heeled him to give him the command. And as soon as I heeled him the problems started.

Within the ring there used to be some low hurdles for horses to jump. Usually the riders avoided the jump as show jumping is a specialized event and horses are especially trained for jumping. But this horse was trained for the jump, he took me straight to the hurdle.

I guess my horse was thrilled to have jaggery as a snack and wanted to show off all his skills to me. He headed straight for the jump. I had never done jumping and naturally my heart was in my mouth. No efforts of mine trying to rein him in was helping, he was hell bent to make the jump and he did. As its front legs touched the ground, the momentum made me fall on his neck and within seconds as its hind legs touched the ground I swayed back on my bum and was going behind. My feet were out of the stirrup and my legs were in the air, luckily I did not fall, I gripped him back from my thighs and pulled the reins with all the strengths I had, and finally it decided to stop.

That was the last time I rode on that particular horse. It was also the last time I gave jaggery to a horse before completing the ride.

HOCKEY

I played hockey for my school and I was the right out for my team. My dad wanted me to do some exercises regularly and told me to join them in hockey. I enjoyed hockey so I decided to play

Playing hockey on lush greens grounds of school and playing hockey on rocky unleveled grounds of kargil was poles apart. Plus since I was just a kid playing a contact sport amongst men, the jawans never tackled me in the fear of hurting me. The rocky ground made things even worst. Half of the time the ball used to bounce of the surface and I never was able to trap it so now they had even stopped passing the ball to me. I basically felt like an outcast standing in one corner of the field waiting for some nice soul to pass me the ball. But that used to happen just once in a while.

I told my plight to my Dad and he gave me a simple solution. His solution was to stop Hockey and join the jawans in their PT drill in the mornings. For him exercising was a must. So it was my choice either play hockey or do PT in the morning. How typical of a Fauji Father!

Rest everything in the PT drill was fine except the fact that the drill included a 10 kms jog every morning. If the jog was on plain ground at a height of 300 msl I would have considered doing it. But this jog was on roads sloping up and down and with rucksack on your back. No ways I would do that.

I stuck with hockey.
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Old 5th June 2010, 12:13   #36
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As enjoyable as reading a Ruskin Bond story. Great work. Waiting for more
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Old 5th June 2010, 14:17   #37
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Default Chapter Five: Zanskar Trek

Those who have been to Zanskar Region will definitely agree with me that it is one of the most picturesque areas of Ladhak. One of the activities organized by the Army for us kids to keep us occupied and to instill the sense of living independently was a 4 days trek in that area.

I do not remember the route that we took but I remember that the trek ended at the Parkachik Glacier. So I presume that we would have gone on the Kargil – Padum route. I also remember that the route we took had hardly or no roads. It was a flattened rocky path, just wide enough for a single truck to pass. So basically if there was another vehicle that would have come from the opposite side, one of the vehicles would have to reverse till there was enough space for both the vehicles to pass.

We were 6 kids in the trek, 4 boys and 2 girls. The youngest was 10 years and the eldest was 17 years. The six of us were divided into 3 groups and each group had a bhaiyya incharge during the trek. Apart from the bhaiyya’s, we had an officer who was the over all in charge of the trek. We also had a guide, a local man, who apart from leading the way also used to teach us the nuances of trekking like walking up/ down, pitching tents, folding tents, carrying bag packs etc.


The Groups (PIC)

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Before leaving for the trek we were issued trekking equipment. Apart from our personal clothing’s we had to carry a down jacket with hood, proper UV rayes protected sun goggles and snow boots. Food and tents were to be transported in a truck.

The trek was not just for fun, we also had a competition going on along the trek. The winners were to be chosen by the officer on the following grounds at the end of the trek.
  • Co-operation between buddies of the same team:- The bhaiyya in the team would just keep an eye on us. Each of us was supposed to be helping our own buddies.
  • Most consistent team: - speed was not the criteria, walking consistently was more important.
  • Cleanest team: - self cleanliness, tent cleanliness, surrounding cleanliness were judged on this.
  • Best organized and skilled team:- pitching of the tents, folding them, getting ready in time for the trek were judged here.
The first day of the trek was spent mostly traveling to the Zanskar area. In our convoy we had 2 Jonga’s and one Scannia. I am sure you all know what kind of a vehicle a Jonga is and for those who do not know what Scannia is, well it’s the vehicle that is used to pull a Bofors gun. The Scannia carried all the food and the trekking equipment and the Jonga’s carried us.

On the first evening we were joined by our guide and he gave us some instructions on the route ahead. The bhaiyyas later helped us in pitching our tents. We were clearly told that this is the only time they would help us and from tomorrow onwards we would have to pitch them up ourselves. So if we didn’t learn now how to pitch tents, from tomorrow apart from loosing points, we might end up having no tent on our heads if the tent flew away in a storm or bad weather. So we made sure we learnt properly.

Second day was the day of walking. As far as I remember the walk was not that hard. It was mostly plain with a few ups and downs. But my buddy who was the youngest of us all had lots of difficulty in keeping with my pace. For the first few hours I walked on his pace and helped him wherever I could but then I had enough of him and left him to our Bhaiyya. Bad decision as we lost a lot of points there.

Third day we continued our walk and reached the Parkachik Glacier. On our way we crossed a spring. This was the first time I had ever seen water coming out from the earth. Surprisingly the water was not cold at all, we all were so fascinated by it that we played around for a while and had a wash.

We camped at Parkachik in the evening. Our parents decided to visit us to see how we were doing, that came as a big surprise to us. I thought we were supposed to be independent!!!

Fourth day we started our journey back to Kargil. On our way back at a lunch stop, we realized that the Scannia was not following us. We waited for the Scannia for a few hours but still no sign. So the officer decided to turn back and all of us went hunting for it. A few kms down we located the Scannia as it was stranded in the middle of the road with a punctured tyre.

Even 20 years back, the truck used to have tubeless tyres. And having a puncture in the tyre with its walls atleast 6-7 inches thick was very difficult. What had happened was that while taking a curve the driver miscalculated and went too close to the hill side. On the hills side there was a protruding sharp piece of rock that went through and through the tyre and hence the puncture.

The Scannia had a spare tyre, jack and all the tools, but the problem was that the tyre was so huge that it couldn’t be lifted by 5-6 men and 6 youngsters. It needed a crane to be lifted. Usually a crane comes as an attachment to the Scannia but I presume no one thought that this would happen; hence with this particular Scannia the hydrolic crane was removed.


The Scannia Truck with the crane attached ( Note this pic has been taken in Rajasthan)

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Message was sent across to the unit to send another Vehicle with the crane. The crane arrived and finally the tyre was changed and it was late in the evening we reached our homes.

The next day the winner of the trek was announced and the girl’s team had won. They were the neatest, most organized and with maximum points on team work too.

Well we lost but ended up enjoying a trek that gave us a chance to see the Zanskar valley.


Now for a few scanned pics of our trek


My buddy getting a helping hand from our guide and our bhaiyya
Memoirs Of Kargil, Year 1990-t2.jpg


Our group
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Buddies were even suppose to have lunch together..Team building!!
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Our tent area. This is the time when our parents visited, Yes they got their own chairs too.
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Us with our bhiayya's
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Beutifull sceneries all around
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At a lunch stop
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Dinner at the camp fire
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At the Parkachik glacier

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Old 5th June 2010, 19:10   #38
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deky, absolutely mesmerizing. Started envying you guys. The narration is such that you are taking us with you and we feel right there in the mighty Himalayas.
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Old 6th June 2010, 08:51   #39
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very very interesting and inspirational... why do u keep doing this to me!?
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Old 6th June 2010, 09:21   #40
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very very interesting and inspirational... why do u keep doing this to me!?
Yes inspirational is the work and a truly a memory that you would cherish. The best part is you remembered everything (for us?)

Rated 5 stars!
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Old 6th June 2010, 11:55   #41
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deky, absolutely mesmerizing. Started envying you guys. The narration is such that you are taking us with you and we feel right there in the mighty Himalayas.
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very very interesting and inspirational... why do u keep doing this to me!?
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Yes inspirational is the work and a truly a memory that you would cherish. The best part is you remembered everything (for us?)

Rated 5 stars!
Thank you for all the good comments and the rating. Just to let you guys know, No I do not remember everything, some things that were not important to me at that time e.g the distances between two places, exact conditions of the road, names of some place etc have been washed away from my memory as the time has passed

But some incidents and moments have been kept alive in the memory due to their nature and the impact it had on me. Plus there are photographs which I do see often to relive my trip. Also since this one was one of the most exciting trips that happened, our family keep talking about them quite often.
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Old 6th June 2010, 12:12   #42
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Sudev has been telling me about your fascinating threads. He did not do enough justice - lovely tale told simply but fully.
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Old 6th June 2010, 12:28   #43
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Fantastic travelogue deky! I am headed to Kargil-Zanskar-Ladakh this summer and after reading this thread, I can hardly wait! Please continue your story.
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Old 6th June 2010, 13:08   #44
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Default Chapter Six: The Man Made Snow Shower At Zozi La

That day was supposed to be a unit outing to Sonamarg. Initially it was planned till Amarnath but the holy cave of Amarnath had to be dropped due to the disturbances in the Kashmir Valley, so it was decided if possible we shall make it till Sonamarg and return back to Kargil.

Reaching till Sonamarg also depended if the Zozi La was open or not. Actually the word was that the pass was still snow bound at some places. Nevertheless Dad decided to give it a try. Just to let you know that Dad, even though being the CO of the unit could not on his own decide to take the unit families wherever he wanted, he had to take permission from his seniors, who usually did not refuse as they also understood that this was once in a life time opportunity for the families.

So with all permissions and security in place the convoy moved towards Sonmarg and soon we were at Zozi la. Half as expected Zozi La was blocked due to snow. If I remember correctly we were told it was snowing for the past few nights at Zozi La.

The snow cutter was in action but there was lots of snow to be cleared, so there was no hope to move further today. Snow cutter as you all know is a machine that removes snow from the road and throws it on the either side of the road. The way it throws the snow it seems as if there is a snow shower happening.
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Anyway, we kids were not bothered if we reached Sonamarg or not. Because till then we had never heard about Sonmarg and if you don’t hear about something before, reaching it or not reaching is one and the same thing. I guess only the elders were disappointed.

Plus we had so much of snow to play with here so why go ahead. Soon the fun and games started. The elders joined in too. We were throwing snow balls at each other, writing our names on the huge snow walls and doing everything possible that we could do in the snow. Till then it was great fun.

The snow cutter was in action and showering snow everywhere. I was quite excited seeing the man made snow fall. I had never seen snow fall happen ever in my life. Though this was a man made snow fall, but nevertheless it was still snow fall.

I coaxed my sister to go towards the snowfall. She reluctantly agreed. We were watching the cutter in action from quite close by. Suddenly an idea came to me, “why not have the snow fall on you!!” It seemed a brilliant idea to me at that time

So sister and I went close to the place where the snow was falling from the cutter. I don’t know what happened, maybe my sister went straight beneath the place where the snow was falling and within seconds she had snow till her waist. The speed at which the snow was falling was very fast, we had not taken that into consideration in our brilliant idea. This was not turning out to be so brilliant after all.

This all happened within seconds, I was under shock. The snow cutter makes so much of noise that the operator could not hear my sister scream. I had to signal him to stop. I remember waving my arms frantically towards him and luckily he did see me and he stopped.

All this happened within 1 minute of our going under the shower. By the time my sister had gone under the shower and by the time the machine was stopped she had almost disappeared under the heap of snow. The alarm had been raised by now and all the adults had come rushing towards her.

As all this happened within minutes, the snow had not solidified as yet. Hands, snow shovels and everything in sight was used to dig my sister out. When she came out to my relief she was still in her original colour. If she had gone blue I would have been damned.

After watching a few emotional moments from my sister and after getting a few slaps from Dad the fun continued in snow but needless to say, it was far far away from the man made shower.

Now for a few pics of us at Zozi la
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Old 6th June 2010, 13:11   #45
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Fantastic travelogue deky! I am headed to Kargil-Zanskar-Ladakh this summer and after reading this thread, I can hardly wait! Please continue your story.
Thank you. When are you in Ladhak? We will be reaching Leh on the 23rd of July this year

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