Chronicles of the Markhian Voyagers (MV)
Crew: Ashesh Ambasta, Dipan Bhattacharya, Hanif Barma, Kanika Pal, Kankana Das, Sujoy Das, Tenzing (guide cum cook), Pema (Assistant to Tenzing), Ongchuk ( Helper) and Jigmet (ponyman and his six ponies)
Day 1 (4th September 2013) - Leh
|The view of the Indus just before landing at Leh|
Dipan takes the early morning flight to Leh to catch the sunrise over the mountains as he’s flying in. Lands and catches up on sleep thereafter.
Hanif, Kanika and Ashesh land by 10 am and are received by Sujoy and driven to the hotel where they are joined by Dipan looking refreshed and ready-to-go. So, the whole team, bar one, is together for the first time (Kankana is somewhere in the vastness of Ladakh, having smartly given herself extra crucial days to acclimatize to the high altitude). Nice; no awkwardness or discomfort amongst us from the word go. We sip tea and exchange notes with a group which had been sent back by the army half way from Nubra because of heavy snowfall. Snow on their vehicle bore testimony to their tale.
Thereafter, Hanif and Kanika retire to their respective rooms for a snooze (Hanif’s first of many, as we were to realise later!).
Sujoy leaves for the market to make arrangements for our trip. Ashesh buttonholes Dipan to give him a crash course on photography, which lasts until lunch time - appreciate his forbearance, which was in evidence throughout the trip. Hanif and Kanika still lost to the world, deep in their dreams.
Sujoy, Dipan and Ashesh trot off for lunch at Tibetan Kitchen, an eating place frequented by the locals. Quaint place with atmosphere and great food – the mutton momos and the talumein soup were outstanding. Highly recommended restaurant.
Leisurely evening tea on the terrace in the hotel. Climbed up on the half-finished roof for shoots. Dipan was after birds, magpies I think (who, according to the cognoscenti amongst us, were always to be found in pairs; I always found them alone). Ashesh valiantly trying to practice the photography lessons of the morning but evidently with little success! Hanif finally surfaced and has toast and tea for lunch. Sujoy finally returned from the errand connected to our trip.
Dinner by the MVs at Dreamland. The sixth member of the group, Kankana, continued to remain outside communication range. Captain mulls if a search party is warranted yet. Great food here too.
Back to the hotel for the first night in Leh. Sleep for all; not for Hanif, poor man – Auditory Assaults of the Worst Kind was the title of his nightmare.