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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:01   #1
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Default Memoirs Of Kargil, Year 1990

Rewind 20 years from today and in June we were in Kargil, spending our summer vacations with my dad who was posted there. Dad was in the Army and was commanding one of the first Bofor’s units in the country.

Being an Army officer’s kid has lots of advantages. I really don’t know if the officer himself gets to enjoy the facilities that the army provides, but definitely the families end up having a great time.

Thanks to my Dad and The Indian Army, we have always ended up spending our summer vacations in the most exotic of places, getting the best of facilities and doing things that my peers could only dream of doing that time.

One such exotic place was Kargil. As you all know, 20 years before, Leh/Ladhak was only to be seen on the television and to be read about only in the news papers, by most of us. Permits were not that easy to get and tar roads that time was a luxury there. The J&K problem had just started hence security was at the highest. But still Kargil Trip in the summer of 90 would always remain the best holiday I have ever had.

As I plan to take my family to Leh in July again this year, flashbacks of the moments I had in Kargil keep appearing again and again. I would like to share a few incidents and moments of my Kargil trip 20 years back with you guys.

I have never written a Memoir before and have never even read one, so please bear with me. There are not many photographs of the trip, but whatever I have, I shall scan and attach them where ever possible.

I have divided this memoir into chapters and each chapter would be a separate moment or an incident. The chapters are
  • Chapter One : The Pain called “Acclimatization”
  • Chapter Two: “Tham, Kaun Jaata hai?” (Stop, who is going?)
  • Chapter Three: My love for Suru River and the consequences.
  • Chapter Four : Horse riding and Hockey
  • Chapter Five : The Zanskar Trek
  • Chapter Six : The man made snow shower at Zozi La
  • Chapter Seven: The Gun that did not stop spinning.
  • Chapter Eight: Being inventive leads to trouble!!!
  • Chapter Nine : Hungroo Loops, the accident, and the lesson learnt for life.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:03   #2
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Default Chapter One : The Pain Called “acclimatisation”

Luckily our Indian Airlines flight landed at Leh Airport in its first attempt. I say we were lucky as in those days it was quite normal for flights to turn around and return to Delhi/ Chandigarh if there was the slightest of weather disturbances in the area. With such a difficult landing strip between two mountains the Pilots, I guess never wanted to risk it.

Apart from loads of other Army officers and families and I, the flight also carried my Mom, my sister and my cousin.

At the airport we were met by my Dad, and after greeting and hugs it was time for instructions. There were many instructions given and many do’s and don’ts told. I heard some and some just flew by. Actually I was getting restless, I wanted Dad to take us out, I wanted to see Leh and wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

One of the instructions that had come into immediate affect was the rules of acclimatization. As per the Army rules, every army officer coming to Leh region has to acclimatize in Nimmu base camp for 7 days Well thank God for small mercies, we had to acclimatize only for 2 days. . During those 2 days we were not supposed to go out of our room, not suppose to run and not suppose to speak a lot. Evenings would be for small 30 minutes family walks otherwise basically we were just supposed to sit in the room like nicely behaved kids and look at the walls. I did hear him on this but unfortunately did not hear the consequences if the instructions were not followed.

The hour long journey from leh to Nimmu itself was destructive for my acclimatization plans. The surroundings were so pretty and the Indus flowing along the route was too inviting to be sitting indoors. I knew I had to get out, I was feeling just fine and was in high spirits. There was enough oxygen in the air to keep me alive, so why should I be wasting time indoors?

At Nimmu, I knew Dad had some work so he would leave after Lunch. Mom, sister and my cousin would sleep. So that would be the best time to go out. Indus was flowing just 500 meters below our camp, I was used to running 6-7 kms a day, and so what was 500 meters. So I asked my dad “Dad can I go to Indus, sit there and acclimatize? Firm No was the answer and he left.

Everyone had slept. Indus was too inviting to be given a miss; I slowly moved out of the house and made a dash to the river. For the fear of getting caught and grounded, I would have run the fastest 500 meters that I ever ran in my life. By the time I reached the river, I was totally out of breath, I could not even feel my legs, and I felt as if I was flying in the air. I calmed myself down and put down the loss of energy due to running fast. Big Mistake!!!

I sat on the banks for an hour. Slowly I regaining my balance bank and started to somewhat enjoy the views. The energy exuberated by Indus was rubbing on me too. I thought I was getting my energy back and tried to stand up, I felt dizzy and my head was paining by now. “Oh it’s the cold breeze that is making you feel like this” I told to myself. Second Big Mistake!!

By now my Dad had returned back from his work. He must have realized that I am missing from the room. He must have also realized that I would have gone to the Indus as I had asked him earlier. Far away from the river I could see my Dad with two bhaiyya (jawans) coming towards me. I knew this meant trouble, but heart in heart I knew at least they would help me getting home as the head was really troubling me by now.

I guess AMS symptoms were written clearly over my face, so Dad decided not to scold me. The three of them helped me home, I was more than happy to reach home and lay on the bed. I suffered the whole night but felt better the next morning. The whole of next day I decided not to be adventurous and stayed put in the room. But in the evening Dad took all of us down to the Indus. This time I did not feel breathless, in all my senses I enjoyed Indus better than yesterday evening.

Lesson learnt, though acclimatization is a pain but it’s essential.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:20   #3
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brilliant stuff Dhiraj, Waiting for more. You guys from army families make us envy a lot. I have read your other travelouges also and in my opinion you are a brilliant writer. Keep it up mate.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:42   #4
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Fantastic story coming up, deky. Never knew that the AMS issues hit you so severely when you fly in (which I have never done).
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:42   #5
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Excellent write deky... this is too inspirational .. loved the Indus part and waiting for more to come.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:46   #6
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Deky is back, after a long time. Feels nice to read such a patriotic travelouge. Please continue and post pics as and when possible
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:50   #7
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@Deky,

Since the story is 20 years old, I hope you have digitized all your snaps!
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Old 3rd June 2010, 14:52   #8
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Amazing stuff deky. Indus is a river I want to go and take an ablution in. Don't know whether that's possible in this life.
I see a 5* stuff brewing already.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:00   #9
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Yep, have to agree with everyone else here. Wonderful writing. And Dhiraj, kudos to you, a 20 year old story.You must have a memory of a Elephant. Go on!! Waiting for the rest of the chapters . And yeah, I know the photos will be not much, but whatever is there, just post it, if you have already got it scanned.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:23   #10
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Wonderful start deky, waiting for the remaining chapters.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:24   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Fantastic story coming up, deky. Never knew that the AMS issues hit you so severely when you fly in (which I have never done).
Hv Sir,
It is infact worse than trekking/traveling in vehicle up mountains because of the sudden change in the altitude. i mean from almost say 500 mts to 4500 mtrs in two hrs is worse than doing the same in the car in say 3 days as we keep getting acclimatized at different altitudes.

Tejas
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Old 3rd June 2010, 15:39   #12
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Absolutely, when I have driven to Ladakh, I have done 2000 to 4200 m (Manali-Sarchu), and it was better than Patnitop-Kargil.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 18:07   #13
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Great Start Deky . I am hooked to this travelogue.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 19:21   #14
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Deky, thats a great start. I really didnt understand what you meant by AMS. Okay I am dumb. I just googled AMS symptomps and found the answer. For the benefit of users like me, here you go:

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), altitude illness, hypobaropathy, or soroche, is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude. It commonly occurs above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet).It presents as a collection of nonspecific symptoms, acquired at high altitude or in low air pressure, resembling a case of 'flu, carbon monoxide poisoning or a hangover.[3]. It is hard to determine who will be affected by altitude-sickness, as there are no specific factors that compare with this susceptibility to altitude sickness. However, most people can climb up to 2500 meters (8000 ft) normally.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the content. For those who want more info please visit the following link:

Altitude sickness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by ElantraGT : 3rd June 2010 at 19:22.
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Old 3rd June 2010, 19:32   #15
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Amazing log in the making.
I remember seeing your two photographs posted in our Humbleh'd thread.
Waiting for it all.

Thanks for writing this for us, and I must admit I envy the army guys
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