It’s the end of the year, pretty much akin to the moment when the bass drops in your favourite electronic-dance-music number, meaning, it’s the time to party!!!! (when is it not, though?) We, at The Big Bang Trip, have always believed in doing things the proper way, and now that we have decided that it really is the time to party, when not just zoom into the place that hosts the best kind of parties; the place that not just parties like there’s no tomorrow, but the place that just breathes like there’s no tomorrow, Goa!
Right here, are just a handful reasons why you need to travel to Goa with TBBT (but, who really needs a reason when it’s Goa-and-TBBT!?)
1. You’d be staying in…
… a villa! That’s right, a-freaking-VILLA! Now, we know how royal you are, and we know how to treat that royalty in you, so, we have zeroed upon a lavish little villa for your stay. So, when not wandering, you’d be chilling by the pool-side, indulged in a glass of wine and a game of darts (or farts? Okay, lame!)
2. We have some plans for you…
From our very own version of a Treasure Hunt to a game of beach volleyball, and an in-house cooking session, we have all our bases covered as far as the fun activities go. So, tag along with your backpack, keep your spirits high, and you’d receive all the good things in the world because you know, we are generous givers!
3. Because bike-rides…
We have always preferred travelling over vacations, so why not just go around the gorgeous-Goa just the way a local would, on bikes! Tap into the little Roadie in you (c’mon, we have all had our fan-moments with Roadies), pick the best combination of sunglasses and shorts, grab a paper-map, ditch the smart-phone maps (game-on?), and keep your eyes open, each new road would be a new kind of exploration! Road-trips have always been the shit!
4. When in Goa…
… do as the Goans do!
While on the bike, we have reserved a day for you to go through the locales, have local food, indulge into conversations with the locals, and be part of our little community travel plan! Now, for how long are we going to recognize Goa just as the party capital of our country?
5. Did you just read party?
Yes? It’s on us! And, as it is on us, we are going to make sure that you dance until your feet refuse to walk, and you will make sure that while on that dance floor, you absolutely sizzle with your moves! There’s a reason that half the country flocks to Goa when it comes down to a party, and it’s time we know why!
6. For our trippers!
Now, you know you’re going to bump into random strangers from day one, and we know that by the end of day five, these strangers would be a part of your extended family.
Getting to know people and sharing stories has always been fun, that’s the reason The Big Bang Trip came into picture in the first place (duh!), it helps you open your eyes to different kinds – of people, of cultures, of stories, (and some innovative abuses?) –and it helps you communicate better – we are looking forward to tickle that little area of your empathy and compassion!
7. For our instigators!
He is a real hitchhiker. He inspired people by travelling around India for 6 months without a penny. After exploring generosity of people and proving that world is indeed kind, he co-founded 4play.in
For those who know us, also know that we arrange for these little sessions – in the middle of our trips – with people we call ‘instigators’. These are the people who have inspired us, and we want them to inspire you (generous givers, remember?) For Goa, we have a couple of such sessions in store – one, on the funny side of the spectrum, and other, on the musical – that’s all we can really tell you, being a fan of surprises!
10 reasons why you should end the year with a Goa trip
Goa always reminds me of that precise moment when the flash from a photographer’s camera meets your eye. You know what’s coming, but each time it comes, it hits you, right in the eye, and in the head (pun intended!)
It really is that intense mix, of people and cultures, languages and food cuisines, party anthems and romantic sunsets, volleyball and football, road-trips and solo-travel (doesn’t really make sense, but these are my keywords, so…)
So, ‘Why Goa?’ Seriously? ‘Why not Goa!’ 1. Beach Please!
The most cliched reason first – why Goa, because beaches! Did you know that Goa has 20+ beaches to boast of? So, the next time you complain about how unclean the water is, or how crowded the beaches are, sit down and reflect – it is you who has been going around to all the mainstream beaches in this amazing place! Explore. Find a beach that suits you. And DO NOT share it with the world!
2. Because, baby ko bass pasandhai!
Now, where would you rather unleash your dirty-beast-cum-party-animal self, but a night-club in the party capital of the country? Find yourself the perfect spot, where you can hear nothing but the bass, grab a bottle of beer (one after the other), and flirt with the DJ as you dance through the night. Oh and not the real-animal kind, settle for bird-watching no? Whom does the third person dress-up for, but you? *wink* *wink*
3. For those ink marks on your body…
Itching to get a tattoo done, but can’t think of a design? Here’s a little tip – go Goa, get into a tattoo-place you like, spend time with the artist, talking to him/her about your ideas in life, and other-high-level-intellectual-things and trust me, the artist will pick a design for you. Take my word, tattoo artists have that charm – they simply know where the little bunny lies in you – and, when in Goa, let your impulse do the talking. That’s the only rule!
4. Markets, shopping, bargains…
From Saturday night bazaar to Anjuna beach flea market, Goa houses the best kinds of flea markets in this world. So, it’s time to discover the hippie in you – go out there, hunt for an OM-kurta, Ali-baba pyjamas, some funky accessories (not the skull ones, please, we’re done with them), and a hand-crafted scarf, maybe? A little cultural shock is what we always need! I don’t really need to tell you that your bargaining game needs to be strong, do I?
5. Where else are you going to make all those stories?
I’ll tell you a little story, One of my friends was in Goa recently, and this one day, he goes to a flea market, a little high (of course!), and – woosh! The guy has no memory of what happened next! He calls me and says, ‘bro, I went to this market wearing shorts and a tee, and now that I have come back, I am in a kurta and Ali-baba pyjamas!’
Yes! That’s it! Although he lost his wallet there, but you know, Kabhi Kabhi Kuch paane ke liye, kuch khona bhi padta hai! And, that’s such a cool story to narrate to your children (after they have turned 18)
6. Because you can meet people!!!
All of us know that it’s that time of the year when most firangs flock to Goa. So, book yourself a mixed-dorm bunk-bed in a hostel, pack a backpack, pick up your lazy little bum, and vanish! Stay in a crazy town, amidst unfamiliar people, share your stories, listen to their stories, and just grow as a person. Solo trips are a bliss!
7. Hit the road!
Now that I have pumped you up a little about the solo-trip thing, why not hire a two-wheeler, get a map, and just hit the road (please let Google maps stay inside your bag). Travel old-school, get lost (literally), and find your own little treasure in your own little voyage! I did that, back in Bali earlier this year, and I got lost and found this amazing abandoned warehouse that had its walls soaked in stunning graffiti. That’s one travel memory that will stay etched in my mind, forever. Make your own!
8. We live so that we can have food…
I know, that this point should have been covered right up there, but c’mon, we always save the best for the last, don’t we? The best food in Goa – fish – sea-food! From fried King Fish to calamari chilly, and tuna teriyaki, don’t even make me start *sob* *Sob* Vegetarian? You get paneer everywhere, no? *ouch*
9. Because there’s community travel
Yes, all the reasons aside, visit Goa just for this – for community travel – visit the locales and view the remains of the Portuguese colony; play beach volleyball; have lip-smacking Konkani food; indulge in a game of football with the local children, or just sit by the beach, soak in the winds and the Sun as the waves play the prettiest music to your ears. There’s a reason why travelling beats meditation.
10. Because, The Big Bang Trip!
Yes! We at The Big Bang Trip are going Goa this December. Is this luring enough or do you want me to say any more about this? Nah! Didn’t I already tell you, we save the best for the absolute last!
‘You know, until the 1970s, Nagaland had this tribe that used to go head-hunting, and for each head-hunt, they got this tattoo on their forehead, right above their eyebrow.’
Fascinating, isn’t it? The story of these tribe-men runs so much on the lines of an army-man, who gets a medallion on his chest each time he guns down an enemy.
I’ll tell you what’s more fascinating – this is one of the stories I shared with this Assamese guy, who was my sort-of roommate – for a day – in a hostel, a couple of weeks back in Jaipur. So, on a particular night, a guy from the west-most end of the country, sat sharing stories with another from the east-most end, having met each other somewhere up north. That’s really the purpose of travelling, to shrink the boundaries in your head and expand your visions.
Why solo trip? For the very clichéd reason that when with your own set of people from everyday life, going to different places isn’t really travelling, it’s more of a vacation – you go, chill, laugh about, make happy memories, and come back. Sounds good, but flying solo, a little here and there, works wonders. Here’s why,
It is demanding…
…much more than your average girlfriend/boyfriend. Locking a place (all by yourself!), looking for a decent hotel/hostel, planning an itinerary (if you need one), gathering all the guts (and answering all the questions) to finally travel alone, and fighting all other first-time jitters.
Eyes begin narrowing-in right from the moment you declare(!) that you’re going to a place, alone. People, in our part of the world, don’t really understand why do you need to do that. So, you need to answer all the questions being shot by your mummy, and mummy ki mummy, and mummy ki mausi, and the list goes on!
But, more than anything, it demands a lot out of you. Solo, for the first time, brings you face to face with yourself. You need to spend time in your own company, and that can really be challenging, because of we, as a generation, are really prone to boredom and overthinking. And if travelling solo suits you, it would definitely help you calm.
You’re brought face to face with…
… yourself. Borrowing from the point mentioned above, you really begin enjoying your own company (or, you simply don’t). Right from picking between a Haywards and a Kingfisher, to deciding if you’re a thudding-music-shady-lights person, or the quiet-mellow-book-reader (and if you are a hopeless romantic, you’d also know whom do you miss the most when left alone.)
You’ll meet absolute strangers, and you’d know how to initiate conversations and hold them over a course of time. You’d venture into the more interesting stories of your life, and develop a set of topics to talk about – and in return, you’d get prettier stories, and a whole list of new books and movies to jump into!
You’ll bump into strangers…
…like I did in Jaipur, or in Pune before that, or Kasol, or Udaipur, or any goddam place that you fancy. And each of these places will bring you a hundred strangers of a hundred kind. One day, you’ll have dinner with a wedding planner from Mumbai and next, a guy from the north-east.
What this would do really is make you understand that there’s so much to the world out there, so little of it you actually understand, and how petty is your own existence. It’d help you broaden your horizon, and emotionally, the empathy and humility would eventually shoot up.
You’d be exposed to cultures…
So apart from the Assamese guy, my other room-mates in this backpacker hostel were a guy from Spain, one from Egypt and a couple from France. In the common room, there was this British girl in front of me, who sat reading a crime-novella, and another woman, from I, don’t know where came in and started playing with a bubble-wrap. I looked at her, we laughed, she said something I didn’t understand, I said something she only half understood, and I went back to reading my book about Australia. See, there’s a world in this little existence. I could go up and strike a conversation with anyone and it would all be new to me.
There’s community travel too. Within India, end up at the opposite corner from where you’re stationed and it would still be a cultural shock. Only tells us how little we know of our “own” people!
And the classic old cliché…
Travelling grounds you, after a point, you stop whining about things and simply do them, taking everything in your stride as an experience.
I have met people who gather money for a year or two and simply set out with a map in hand, hopping over from place to place for as long as a year, until they run out of that money, and need to get back. Once back, they simply repeat the cycle, earn and travel, see what you have been reading about, live out what you’ve planned for the future.
So, coming back to the age-old cliché – seize the day, my friend; leave all your plans for today, only make stories for the future – that’s what travelling tells you.
We were chilling one evening, cracking jokes (the usual), this time about the good old 90s. And then we started to imagine a trip like this – one with picnics, “Tu Hain Meri kirannnn” sung out loud, some gully cricket, old tape recorders and cassettes, Govinda dance moves, your favourite childhood candies and everything we just love and miss about the good old 90s. We woke up the next morning and decided, we’re doing it. So here you go! We along with The Goodwill Tribe are presenting to you the latest in our travel experiences – a trip designed to ‘Bring back the 90s’.
It’s an 8-day trip that will take you down memory lane in the hill stations in Uttrakhand. Travel with like-minded strangers and experience nostalgia as you share childhood stories. Go back to a time when all you cared for was collecting WWE cards, going on picnics, playing outdoors, watching cheesy filmy movies and getting lost in the pages of a book.
We’ve chosen to revisit locations that were popular back in the 90s and that’s why we are taking you to the beautiful hill stations in Uttrakhand. We will be visiting Landour, Mussoorie, Lansdowne, and Kousani; places that will enchant you with their simplicity and their splendid panoramic views of the Himalayas. Here’s a detailed version of the plan.
We promise you lots of fun and nostalgia with activities that will take you back in time and you can look forward to connecting deeply with each other through activities facilitated by The Goodwill Tribe. Practice your best moves for some retro dance nights. Turn strangers into teammates when you play gully cricket (hopefully with the locals). And lots of other fun activities! (Watch this space to know more).
The motto of our trips is for you to discover, explore and inspire. By coming on this trip, we hope you will discover the beauty of Uttrakhand, explore yourself and inspire each other through your unique stories.
Dates: 23rd to 30th September
Location: Landour, Lansdowne, and Kausani
Price: 26,900 INR (22,900 for first 4 trippers and 24,900 INR for next 4 trippers)
Simply think how astonishing it will be the point at which you finally climb up that long trek in the Gangotri lastly look at that dazzling view you’ve just seen in pictures or TV. You can absorb everything, take a seat for a considerable length of time and think about how mystical life can be, discreetly.
But just in one condition, you are enjoying all this alone. Yes, solo trip. A girl solo trip may sound a little strange and new concept in India but trust me in foreign it’s a hit trend. At least once in a life time, a girl should travel alone because, at the point when a lady travels, especially alone, she is creating an impression, one that says that she declines to be related with the generalization of ladies as delicate and unreliable. She is opening herself up to new encounters and openings—she doesn’t go to escape life, yet she travels so life doesn’t get away from her.
Being a girl, when your life is full of expectations and restrictions there’s an undeniable sense of freedom that comes from traveling alone, without help, rules or guidelines. Every day is a mystery for someone like a curious soul like me.
Travelling was always my most favourite adventure of life and I don’t think we need a reason to justify why. But no matter how long the vacations were, I couldn’t get a chance to travel in last 2 years. There were many reasons but most important was the lack of coordination and spirit among my friend circle. At last, I have decided to travel solo. Travel solo to Gangotri. Coming from the region of Uttarakhand, trekking is in my genes and there can not be any better place than Gangotri on earth for someone like me who loves mountains, heights, snow, solidarity, peace and of course adventure. By the way travelling solo is a complete adventure in itself.
As someone who is slightly introverted, I like the security of having a friend to talk to when traveling. But being separated from everyone else will drive me to associate with outsiders on an everyday premise, and figure out how to grasp ungainly welcome and pose more individual inquiries. When you’re all alone, it’s dependent upon you to request bearings and make sense of it. You’ll have a serious sentiment fearlessness when you know you’re fit for discovering things all alone.
I don’t want to rely on others for their opinion, I want to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t think there can be any better way of coming out of my comfort zone and treat my self with everything I deserve.
The inspiration which is driving me to this thorough adventure is not my flighty confidence in religion, superstition of purging sins or legendary stories (considering Gangotri is an important part of Hindu mythology). I am more entranced about snow-topped Himalayas and about appearing a fantasy of being at the bank of Ganges developing out from a Glacier. I have already started envisioning that great photo of thin water stream of Ganges. As we move higher, change of scene into rich green valley will be genuinely overpowering. It’s hard to extinguish my unremitting interest about vegetation, fauna, water falls or about any water stream falling in transit now.
I want to heal myself from enough of playing the game of life. I want to sit on the peak of mountain enjoying the sunset forgetting all the chaos of life and find myself which was somewhere lost in the crowd of the metro city.
From venturing to the Northern Himalayas solo I need to love sentiments of delight, a sunny day, an unmistakable sky, a city, a grin from an outsider, an odor I was attached to… . I need to love in such a large number of structures past individuals or creatures. I need to love love.
Travelling solo as a girl won’t just give me certainty and autonomy, it will likewise show me to love myself. As ladies, we have a tendency to receive a propensity to contrast ourselves and other ladies, maybe notwithstanding contending with them. This is not at all solid, nor will it help us to develop, yet solo travel has a method for helping you to relinquish these inclinations to contrast yourself as well as other people. You soon discover that there are such a large number of various individuals out there on the planet – distinctive body shapes, diverse identities, diverse hair hues, skin hues…. etc. We are on the whole extraordinary. Embrace your individuality.
Ladies who travel solo – for any xyz reason, for whatever they detract from it, for whoever they meet en route, for whatever they miss back home, encounter a change that is just unbelievable. I need to encounter the same since it isn’t a modifier or a word found in the lexicon…. it is a sentiment opportunity. Of disclosure. Of self.
Travel, because in the end we only regret the places we didn’t go to…!
My decision to travel to Leh-Ladakh for ten days with a bunch of random strangers had many beginnings. There was the first, half-minded decision to do it, followed by the second, more serious decision to actually do it, and then the third long beginning, composed of paying for the trip, shopping and packing, and mentally preparing myself to do it.
There were a few things which bothered me; like what will happen to my dark oversensitive skin when the direct UV rays of sun would fall on it, then there was worry about acclimatization, the horror stories of how average people like me find it difficult to adjust in such high altitude with limited oxygen supply.
Like a well trained corporate employee, I asked my supervisor if the dates of my travel would suit our work calendar and he said, “Go ahead” in an instant. I felt unprepared for the trip but decided to do it anyway.
And the Journey Began
A day before I was ready to fly, I medicated myself and started preparing my body to acclimatize quickly.
I boarded the 9:35 am flight from Terminal 1D of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. “Boarding complete”, I listened to the announcement and the flight took off.
It takes hardly an hour to fly to Delhi from Leh. The aura of magical Leh started flashing through the window of the flight. The view of snow covered mountains from 35000 ft above the ground was a privilege.
Landing and Drive to Home Stay
As I landed, the brown mountains grew taller, and bigger, and opened the view of a grayish valley with a lining of greenery around it.
Leh Airport, now known as Kushok Bakula Rimpoche is a simple airport with a common terminal for both arrival and departure. After collecting my luggage, I proceeded to the exit gate with my trolley bag and found a warm and smiling Ladakhi gentleman holding a placard with “The Bing Bang Trip” name written on it.
I boarded the tempo traveler and the fifteen minutes drive from the airport to the home stay seemed quick and easy. I wasn’t feeling any altitude sickness as yet which gave me an instant boost of confidence.
I dragged my travel bag to my room situated on the second floor of the house. I started panting on the first floor itself, a little more than usual. I felt tired as if I was carrying a thousand bricks on my shoulder.
After meeting the trip organizer Chandrabhan, I went straight to my room where my roommate Shweta was lying on the bed like a log. “Hey,” she said in half sleepy tone. “Hello,” I replied back in excitement. “I am sorry but I am too sleepy, I had a long flight,” she said and went to sleep.
I felt tired too, and tried to rest, but couldn’t do so. I came out of my room and the open terrace area gave a clear view of mountains and a water stream flowing within walking distance to our home stay. The view felt like as if the valley was embracing me.
Meeting the fellow Trippers
After some time, one after the other, the follow travelers came out of their room; met and greet each other. The group of ten strangers formed small clusters and started talking to each other.
After that, there was a formal group activity where everyone introduced themselves which served as an ice breaker for us. Each tripper was unique in its truest sense.
There was this girl from Punjab, Saru, who loved making customized gifts for her friends, another fitness freak girl “Yash Babbar” who talked about her dream of opening a restaurant and how she managed to stay with a name which sounded like a “guy’s”. My roommate Shweta, was an “NRI”, living in Dubai and who flew down especially to do this trip.
Then there was Sumit, an IIT and IIM passed out high pod, who could play thirty-five musical instruments. Then there was Kamlesh, who talked about his journey from being raised in Mumbai and then moving to California and then coming back home. Another tripper Sagar was a twenty three-year-old photographer and aspiring film maker whose first short film was already featured in different parts of the world.
Chetan Soni, another co-founder of the big bang trip was a publisher and believed in being “jack of all trades.” The collaboration partner of the trip, Sonia, ran an NGO called “good will tribe” talked about her motto of spreading happiness in the world.
After the introduction got over, we all went near the water stream. The noise of the flowing water felt like silence to my ears merging perfectly into that beautiful evening.
The trip had just begun.
Hall of Fame
With a bag full of excitement, we boarded the tempo traveler and formally started our trip by visiting Hall of fame complex.
The quotes on the walls rightfully described the purposeful life our soldiers live; one of the quotes which gave me goose bumps: “How can a man die better, than facing fearful odds… for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods”.
A full wall inside the museum displaying complex photographs of young and fearless soldiers during Kargil, and other wars moved me beyond feeling just proud of them. My heart was felt with gratitude for the soldiers which I expressed in a letter that I wrote for them.
Leh being a war prone area due to its closeness to Sri Nagar had many army camps. It was really exciting to see the military vans and trucks, and the soldiers dressed in army printed uniforms, with pride in their eyes and machine guns in their hands.
Mountains, Music, and Friendship
“In the mountains, stillness surges up to explore its own weight in the lake, movement stands still to contemplate its own depth.” The most incredible part of this whole Leh Ladakh trip for me was making mountains my home. Being in the presence of mountains, without much trace of my real life back home was overwhelming. I spent hours in our traveler just looking out without talking to anyone.
I wandered and wondered when I looked at them – How do these mountains look in winter, all covered in snow? How could these mountains be so certain of themselves? Do these mountains ever feel lonely? Who keeps them company? Do landslides is a way in which these mountains express their anger?
I felt connected with mountains on the first day of our trip itself, the sort of connection I didn’t feel with anything or anyone in a really long time. I felt sheltered in their presence, like they were protecting me. Protecting me from what? I couldn’t say clearly. I wanted to be like those mountains; beautiful, calm, certain, still, full of contentment, and yet so strong headed.
Cherry on the cake was music and noise of chit chatting in the background, which helped me to stay connected to the real world.
The music of the trip was mostly played by Saru whose playlist comprised of songs ranging from lame ones like, “tamma tamma loge” to Rahman’s “patakha guddi” and the popular English numbers like, “despacito.”
In between the music and the travelling, whenever someone played any Punjabi song, Saru (funjabi girl) turned to Kamlesh (California guy) to tease him if he has understood the meaning. In turn, Kamlesh never missed a chance to ask her if she knew what “Despacito” means whenever she moved her neck to the beats of that song.
Soon their arguments became frequent, sometimes funny and sometimes annoying. Yet whenever Kamlesh needed sun block to protect his sensitive skin, Saru offered to help in her classic taunting in the background style. I knew Kamlesh from before but soon I developed an instant liking towards Saru due to her bright smile, quick wit, funny one liners and “always ready to help” attitude.
I bonded with Yash for the first time when we all were sitting in the lawn of Pather Saheb Gurudwara, peeling pees as a part of “sewa” we offered after having tea and Boondi. We talked about our whereabouts, cooking habits, and love for travel. She came across as a sensible, well read girl, and I liked her too. By the end of the day, I had two new friends in the kitty.
My roommate Shweta (Dubai NRI 1) turned out to be a mixed bag of emotions. She talked less and abused more. She didn’t like loud people and asked them to shut up in the highest pitch of her voice. In fact, my first conversation with her ended up with she telling me to “shut up” because I tried to be courteous to her on the first day of our stay together.
As restless as she sounded first, sharing room with her was quite easy. She was expressive and I liked that quality. After three days, we were up till late night sharing stories of past relationships and ex-crushes. But till the end of the trip, she stayed a mystery for me, who sometimes talked like a wise person full of sensibilities, and sometimes as a kid wanting to grow up quickly.
Star Gazing at Nubra Valley
On the third day of our trip, we left for Nubra valley after passing the Khardungla Pass. The journey was a little too exciting, especially for me. First, our traveler broke down in the middle of the road and then as soon as we reached the pass, I started to feel uneasy.
The uneasiness didn’t reduce even after I sipped two cups of hot tea. I was feeling difficulty in breathing and an annoying headache started taking me over.
I headed towards the army health camp along with Kamlesh, Chandrabhan and Sonia. As soon as I took a few steps, I almost fell on the ground. I blanked out and had no energy left in my body to walk any further.
Kamlesh helped me got up and I reached the army camp staggering. Sensing my panic, the army officer consoled me casually that it’s nothing but lack of oxygen in my body. I was immediately made to inhale oxygen from a machine and within ten minutes, I started to feel better.
The army officer enquired about our whereabouts and complained about the demanding army job. He really wanted to go home for a few days but his job didn’t allow it. I saw Khardungla pass from a distance, covered with snow and colorful prayer flags. I wasn’t able to click the compulsory Khardungla pass picture which still makes me sad.
Coming down from the pass, we were headed to Nubra valley. The stay in the valley was unique, with only four hours electricity and an hour’s hot water supply in a day. We quickly rushed to our rooms to charge our cell phones.
After the moon set late, we came out to encounter the view we have been waiting for, and what Nubra valley is famous for – “star gazing”. I looked at the sky with an open mouth, trying to absorb the view of the space and the stars, the greatest mystery of human life. The stars looked like millions of tiny miracles spreading magic. The view held me, longer than I thought. I couldn’t take my eyes off the vastness of that scene.
“Shooting star,” someone shouted and I looked closely but missed seeing it. My eyes searched for another one and there it was, another shooting star, spreading shades of gold. I didn’t feel the need to join my hands, close my eyes and ask for a wish; just being in a part of that moment and learning how small my existence was in front of that universe, seemed like a wish coming true.
On the sixth day of our trip, we headed towards Pangong lake. It was a long six hour trip from Leh. I was sitting next to the driver’s seat and in between the trip, driver pointed to one of the Ladakhi squirrel like animal called, Marmot. Everyone rushed to click a picture of them, and everyone laughed like a maniac when Sagar complained about the Marmot turning its back towards his camera.
After passing through the breath taking mountain views, which became a part of our everyday journey, we stopped near a tea shop for a quick break. The two TBBT founders turned into Captain Rajesh and Captain Suresh and talked about their hidden strategy behind turning up late every morning and their goal of getting the Pangong lake back from China.
Pangong, was a big beautiful lake but a bit corrupted by commercialization. The movie 3-idiots completely stole its thunder with Kareena’s scooter, the bum shaped stool, and other props used in the movie lying by its side.
The lake water seemed cold at first but became bearable after some time. I walked in the water along with Saru, Yash, and Shweta, and relished the time trying to hold some yoga poses taught by the girls. After having lunch in Rancho’s café, we went inside the bus, and resumed music and chit chat.
During the course of a long brainless joke, we discovered that Panglong lake was actually green in color because Yash disposed of some ten thousand green tea bags as a part of her secret job of advocating Tetley green tea. Whenever there was food, there was Yash asking for hot water and then dipping a green tea bag into it.
Leh Ladakh, the Monasteries & Us
Buddhism in Ladakh is ancient and influenced by Tibetian Buddhism, where Buddha is worshipped as a deity who has attained Nirvana. Various incarnations of Buddha, known as Bodhisattvas, are also worshipped in monasteries.
As a part of our itinerary, we visited many monasteries, Diskit in Hunder (Nubra Valley) being the first one. Located on the hill of the mountain, it was a beautiful and colorful monastery who also had a giant Buddha Statue at the back side of it with direct rays of sun reflecting on Buddha’s face in the background of blue sky makes it an absolute treat to watch.
When I got inside the monastery, the thing which stood out for me was the silence of that place. Silence is rare these days. No chanting, no talking, no hassle, absolutely nothing. You can just go, sit for some time and close your eyes.
A few days later, we went to Shey Monastery and sitting outside an empty prayer hall on the second floor, I heard the trippers discussing learning from Bhagavat Gita, and Quran depicting the richness of our culture and the acceptance level and respect we had for each other, even as a small group.
Besides all this, during our visit to one of the Tibetian temple, we ate freshly dropped apricots and discovered that “Life is an apricot.” Saru, while saying the phrase didn’t came from the background of giving any intellectual meaning to it but when I deep dived into it, I could draw some similarities. Apricot is a fruit of several species and life is an mix of many emotions, apricot is sometimes sweet and sour, and so is life; apricot has a seed inside of it which gives birth to other apricots, and similarly life is capable of bringing back another life into this world. Hence proved, “Life is an apricot.”
Last Day and the Letter Writing
Each light before calling off the day, there was a group activity planned by Sonia that involved talking and expressing ourselves. I wanted to skip the activity planned on the last day of our trip partly because I was tired and partly because I just wanted to start detaching myself with the group. I knew we all had to go home the next day, and it made me sad. But since the activity was related to writing, I decided to come out from my room, and check out what it was about.
Sonia handed me a print out which had names of three people and a descriptive paragraph against each name. She told me that their NGO had received letters from random strangers, who themselves, or someone they knew, is going through tough times in their life and we had to write letters to them in order to motivate them.
I found the idea absolutely awesome and this whole activity gave me a sudden rush of energy. Those weren’t complex problems but real problems that we all face in some point of our time. Problems like how to follow your passion without family’s support, dealing with low self-esteem, getting over the death of a parent, which path to take when you don’t know your destination.
After we wrote letter to those strangers who now shared a part of our life; we wrote letters to each other which Chandrabhan had assured that we’ll receive in six months’ time.
Each one of us on the last night of our trip was suffering from the holiday withdrawal symptoms, not wanting to go home, not wanting to leave the group, not wanting to sleep, but we all came back to our rooms around 1 pm. After fifteen minutes, I heard a knock at the door. Yash was standing outside our room.
Shweta, Yash and I talked for another hour while I packed my bag as slowly as possible. It was funny how the presence of the two girls who were merely strangers some days back ago felt so familiar and comforting to me.
The last day ended with a box full of memories. In the last ten days, we shared the same home, same car, same mountains, same stars, and same life.
Back to the grind
As I entered my home, I felt a sense of disorientation. Somewhat the sufficient supply of oxygen, full mobile phone networks, and hassle of the city seemed alien. It took me many days to adjust back to my normal city life.
I missed the uncomfortable traveler ride with music and noise in the background, I missed the lack of oxygen, I missed the sound of laughter which echoed in my ears even when the trippers weren’t around, and above all, I missed mountains the most. Those big, firm, and strong miracles of nature which took my heart away and never gave it back to me.
It was nature that connected me to myself, and to others; in Leh Ladakh and outside of it.
The Big Bang Trip: Leh. We came, we explored and we loved.
It been a little over a week since the TBBT: Leh Edition trip has come to an end. And honestly, I feel I have left some part of me in the mountains. The surrealistic beauty of the landscape, the vast expanse of land and the oh-so-blue sky, how can one blame me?
Some of the few things that I have brought back with me, however, would include the caffeine addiction… -.- I can’t really be blamed for this one (although I think Sumit should be). I believe it was the second night when I got a taste of the local Honey-ginger-Lemon tea that got me hooked. Since then, no meal, and I mean NO meal was complete without Sumit asking if it was possible to get black tea with sugar in it. Now I sit at work and have at least 4 cups of tea every day, with a new found respect for chai drinkers.
During lunch on one of the travel days, where everyone was just powered down, CB and I went down to the river nearby. For someone who has always had an intrinsic pull towards the water, to go down there and be able to drink the water, was just insane. I mean, whoever heard of cupping your hands and drinking fresh water from the river? It was almost as foreign to me as plucking fresh apricots from the tree and eating them right then and there.
The initial few days of the trip were a bit of a blur. This could have been due, in part to the lack of oxygen, but mostly due to the wonder of the alien landscape we found ourselves in. For me, it was also the nervousness of being thrown in with a bunch of random new people for the next 9 days. The lack of oxygen, however, is a major factor. Climbing a flight of stairs had me so winded, I needed to lay down and catch my breath (read that as passing out for the next 2 hours). So when people ask me now how would I describe Ladakh, I say: “breathtaking” – literally.
Back to the people. Maybe because we were the precise assortment of people that we were, I think the awkwardness didn’t last past day 3. Although with Sonia being a part of the trip and working her magic through the Goodwill Tribe, the disconnection between people was bound not to last too long. I recall when Neha, who I’d been bunking with for the trip, asked me if it was alright that her belongings were diffusing throughout the room, I asked her to shut up kindly.
You know how when you look at those fancy schmancy Nat Geo photographs on Instagram; you wish you could be in such places for real? To witness such beauty and sheer awesomeness for yourself? Yup. Nubra Valley. The lights went out around midnight. We bundled up against the cold; everyone grabs their essentials: Sumit grabs his guitar, Sagar grabs his camera, Babbar her phone, Saru her speakers, etc. etc… you get the drift. We sit around the bonfire and listen to music. At some point, we looked up, and my mouth drops open: We were sitting under the Milky Way. My mouth probably stayed open. I kid you not; I counted 17 shooting stars that night. 17!! And here I thought shooting stars were the stuff of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Someone was playing Stairway to Heaven, clichéd I know, but I don’t think anything could have ingrained that moment more in my mind.
One last thing that I brought back with me is an invaluable lesson on life that I think everyone on the trip has benefitted from: Life is an apricot.
Crazy Trippers we met through The Big Bang Trip Leh
One of the good things Leh did was to make me write this note. Not that I had any writer’s block but “wo Zindagi kya Zindagi jo sirf pani si bahi.”
The Big Bang Trip:- Leh is over and now is the time to analyze few things (always wanted to be an analyst in one of Big 4 companies ).
Met a lot of new, somewhat new and old people during these 9 days and I am sure I have left a lasting impression on them…but what impression did they leave on others:-
He was responsible for sucking all internet across Kashmir and did not let anybody send WhatsApp messages to near and dear ones. Known as “Magneto” in his friendly circles he was seen having a devilish laugh whenever somebody tried logging in.
She was crowned “Lifeline of the Trip” by the head priest at Hemis monastery. Tales surfaced, and we came to know that she has a district court named after her in Phagwara. While bidding farewell to us, army men were seen shouting “Jai Shri Shri 108 Saru Ji.”
All 9 days he was seen wandering to find that one “perfect frame” across the desert, mountains, rivers. We hope that he will show us that soon and not be disturbed by photo demons at night.
She came from beyond the Wall and made guest appearances after every 10 min informing us that “she is leaving.” It was an honor for TBBT that we were able to keep her for entire 9 days. Last heard she was applying for “Best Supporting Actress” for Dubai Film Awards.
Sumit Kumar Singh:-
The Pied Piper of the trip, he lured girls across all age groups with his flute and guitar. The audience was mystified when he played “Pani da Rang” by just using sand and hand gestures.
The crazy boy of the trip who defended his title by reaching Leh in just 3 hours from Delhi. I could hear a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” when he took off his Bandana and exposed his 6 pack forehead hair.
Well, a lot of people think that Pangong lake is green because of some scientific reason but the reality was revealed during TBBT. She poured 10000 packets of green tea in it and thus achieved her sales target given by Tetley Tea. Last heard waiters across Leh were having nightmares of a figure calling out to them asking for “garam paani.”
Known as “Kindness Didi” because of some conspiracy theory she was seen throwing arrows of kindness to people like Cupid. Whenever she spoke, we were all reminded of great Abraham Lincoln.
He has been invited by NASA after a satellite spied on his drone flying and Milky way capturing abilities. No animal was harmed while shooting.
The real inspiration of the Trip who became the first woman from Laxmi Nagar to fly solo across Khardunga La pass without oxygen. She has decided to open a cafe there and inspire people to “Netflix and chill” when there is no oxygen by sipping freshly brewed half baked coffee.
The real inspiration of the Trip who became the first woman from Laxmi Nagar to fly solo across Khardunga La pass without oxygen. She has decided to open a cafe there and inspire people to
“Netflix and chill” when there is no oxygen by sipping freshly brewed half baked coffee.
Lastly, our driver who refused to bow down to any vehicle on the road.
I hope the trippers had an interesting trip with learnings, clearings, and earthlings. As a wise man once said, “Life is an Apricot.”
The Big Bang Trip
Meet such crazy people on our road trips. Be a part of our next trip.
Trip: Bring Back the 90s (Let’s cherish our childhood again)
17,000 Kms, 19 countries, 7 mountain ranges and One car: Decoding the traveller in Kushal- Founder of xoxoday.com
The uncertainties and unreliability of crossing many new countries through roads, too many variables almost out of control, a road trip that is best at breaking you down completely but also at bringing you the closest to yourself is how Kushal glosses his experience of the great Mongol rally……
Kushal Aggarwal, the founder of xoxoday.com shares with us, the experience that he has had in covering those unforgettable miles in one of the longest road trips of the world. It all started in 2013, when he approached nearly 10 of his friends for the idea of Mongol rally- he recalls how five of them backed out after a few months and he was left with his two friends. Well, that was that, but he hardly had any idea that this far-fetched adventure will change a lot in him. Perhaps it was both an innate and fantastically scattered reality of his passion and it’s vision of traveling. A road trip from London to Mongolia covering almost 17,000km in around 19 countries was only a dream until Kushal actually got his friends to get this big ride going.
Rivers and different terrains to cross, challenging rules, one small car in not so perfect condition, no insurances, no security, no one to contact in an emergency except the locals- there’s just too much what he had dealt with in this not so generous journey. It was not merely a canvased track but was almost like stepping into many plashes in between (there was literally this time when they almost got carried away with the water stream they were to cross) and yet it was one of the most beautiful experiences he has ever had along with those few fishy moments:
‘We got arrested in China, mistaken as terrorists, hooked by stripers in Russia and were almost debarred from entering Turkey’
Running a company matching with his passion for traveling, being a part of the great rift valley ride in Africa and the Mongol rally from London to Mongolia-his motivation for traveling comes homegrown. ‘I have been traveling since I was a kid. My dad used to take us out for a trip twice a year and that’s how I initially covered almost every state of India’
Scooping the authentic elements of a place, their culture, and art, their past times and etiquettes are what brings him closer to being an explorer and that is rather his definition of traveling now.
The team of The Big Bang Trip wishes him good luck for all future adventures. If you want to go for Mongol rally, do write to us, and we will help you out in connecting with Kushal.
Happy Exploring the World!!!
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We have lined-up several road trips in coming months.