23 August 2005
Those mountain goats caused a traffic jam at 16,000 ft.... there was a truck, our bikes, these goats, some chaps carrying rations from kullu to leh on horses... one of the horses died for whatever reason, so they just sent the others forwards and dragged the carcuss along to the edge of the road and pushed it off the cliff... it didn't fall far enough down the slope towards the frozen lake... so a couple of them climbed down and pushed it further down.
I'll write in detail about the Indian Army some other time... the army guy in that photo took the enfield for a ride... he was impressed with the handle-bar. That camp- Sarchu, is a strategic transit camp for all army troops heading to the forward posts along the border with Tibet and Pakistan (including the Siachen glacier). The camp is at around 14,000 ft., our highest stop-over for a night... learnt all about altitude sickness, with very little sleep that night.
I've seen a good number of open toilets, but this one is really OPEN.... there aint a tree in sight, no rocks to hide behind... interesting experience.
The sand is so soft... it puffs out when you walk on it... like landmines going off... very beautiful! Felt awesome when the sand sneaked thru my toes while walking.
The other army guy was the one who saved us when the enfield's air filter got clogged... he came out from his camp with a brush and some waste, stood under the high altitude for like half an hour, cleaning the air filter like it was his own... he got his hands dirty, pushed the bike and ran behind it to get it started... man, I had goosebumps-more like goosehills- when I saw him running behind me pushing the bike and giving me instructions to get the bike running properly... why did he have to do all that... the kindness of strangers.
When I wanted to take a snap of him, he felt bad because he had hurried out of his tent wearing slippers... he felt genuinely ashamed to be photographed wearing slippers while in his uniform... I can't describe what I felt then... just deep, deep respect. We had to move on, so we just thanked him and rode off... the image of him standing there under the blinding sun, waving us goodbye is etched in my memory.