Monday, September 26

But Why…

“But why should I lie?”

“That’s the way it is, beta. These things are just expected…”

“I still don’t understand. What’s the harm in telling the truth? No, I’m not saying that I’ve attended Saira Johal’s cookery classes. I’m ok with the guy’s family rejecting me for that. At least I won’t be part of a family with fake pretensions and expectations.”

“Ohho, this girl is so stubborn, Meena. It’s all your fault. With the kind of freedom you’ve given her, anybody would turn out this way.”

“Dad, there’s no reason to reprimand Mom. I decide what I say or do. And I’m not lying. Not to you, not to anyone else. I’m not ashamed of who I am. And I have qualities and talents that are considerably more unique and significant than some cookery class.”

“Beta, this is what is required of any decent girl in the community. You don’t really have to do anything, just say that you know how to cook and you’ve attended the classes. That’s it.”

“But I DO know how to cook. Just not the way Saira Johal does. And anyway, she publishes a book every year on how to cook various things. Not everyone in her class knows everything! No Mum, I’m NOT lying.”

“Fine. Do what you want. This is a very nice boy, and a respected family…”

“If they’re so nice and respected, then they might just accept me for who I am than for what I can prepare for meals.”


***

“Namaste. Did you have any trouble finding the house?”

“Yeah, the route is a little confusing.”

“Please make yourselves comfortable. Would you like some tea?”

“No, let’s see the girl.”

“Sure, sure. Meena, call Alvira.”

***

“So Alvira, what do you do?”

“I work as a banker with FCHS.”

“What kind of job is that?”

“I help people with their investments.”

“Okay. And do you know how to cook?”

“Yes.”

“Have you been to Saira Johal’s cookery classes?”

“No.”

“Ohh… what’s your best dish?”

“Pasta.”

“Ahem… what other hobbies do you have?”

“I enjoy swimming and travelling.”

“Ok… ok… Umm… anything that you want to ask, Vishal?”

“No, I’m all right.”

“Arre, don’t be shy, beta.”

Vishal and Alvira shared a quick, shy smile.

“I’ve been through this. I know how it is…”

Alvira looked gratefully at Vishal. He did not resemble his old-fashioned mother nor his goofy-looking father. His uncle was doing all the talking and making Alvira feel like an insect under scrutiny.

“Gosh,” Alvira wondered, “how do girls put up with this nonsense, several times over? I’m not doing this again… Papa can scream as much as he wishes…”

“Alvira, anything you want to ask Vishal?”

Slight nod of the head. No. Anything to get over this disgrace. Alvira couldn’t wait to end the agony. She could clarify all her questions later if the initial formalities went well between the families.

“Okay then, Bhai Sahab. We’ll talk again in a few days.”

***

Days turned to months. There was no communication. Would the situation have been different had Alvira agreed to her parents’ request about the silly cookery class?

Alvira couldn’t care less.

Though, she did contemplate over why families in the 21st century still believed in all this horse-shit… Would such certificates guarantee a happy, married life?

Then why…?

- Princess

Wednesday, September 21

A MiniWok to Remember




Great company always makes for excellent meals.

But if the food and ambience are pleasing as well, it leads to an altogether delightful experience.

Such is the way I’d summarize my dinner at MiniWok – The Oriental Kitchen.

Previously SMS with a fun attitude, apna adda in Model colony next to Om Super Market / opp Eden Court is now back in a completely professional aura. (Yeah, the one next to Symbiosis ELTIS / Distance Learning Centre)

That it’s owned by a close friend is one reason why the place is special to me, but even otherwise, I think MiniWok is marvellously conceptualized, designed and created.

They serve Thai and Chinese cuisine, but that does not stop previous regulars from dropping in asking for a quick bite. I guess this paves the way for MiniKadhai and MiniTawa. Serendipity, they say!

(Get those grey cells pumping, Dips. This could very well make you India’s top entrepreneur and restaurateur!)

MiniWok has a cozy and friendly air about it. It’s not too huge at the moment, but easily seats 16. The open kitchen is definitely one of their attractions. It’s clean and fun to watch. They also offer takeaway and have an extensive menu that caters to all taste buds – authentic and Indianized.

I loved the vast range of starters – veg, chicken, prawn, mutton; it’s got something for everyone, and could easily substitute the main course. I regaled my taste buds with Chilly Prawns and Mushroom Money Bags. While the MiniWok touts the latter as their signature dish, I was more impressed by the prawn preparation. The prawns were succulent and crunchy, and the spices and flavour were just right.

The Money Bags (called because they’re shaped thus), consist of chopped mushrooms in wontons doused in sweet, tangy sauce. For a mushroom lover like me, chopped ones don’t do justice, and so I fancied the Thai Chilly Mushroom more. Also try the Schezwan Babycorn if you’re here – it’s quite delicious and filling. Kung Pao Chicken and Egg Fried Rice followed, both steaming and yummy.

The portions are decent, and a meal for 2 costs between 600-800 bucks.

Desserts and drinks are yet to be added to the menu, and home delivery will start shortly.

All the best to you, Deepti Kasbekar!!! You do me proud, and I’m sure this is just the beginning…

Readers, do visit !!

Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/groups/269564733062065/

And another: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MiniWok-Oriental-Kitchen/259460014087075

Love,
Princess

Friday, September 16

Get Leh'd !!!

Three weeks now since I returned from Ladakh, and the images stay imprinted on my mind and heart…

Did I tell you we stayed in a tent at Pangong?

I last stayed in one when I’d visited Africa in the year 2000. Y2K proved lucky for me! LOL.
Sweetwater Lake was the location in Kenya (lake then too!) and this time it was the Pangong Tso.

(Of course, between these two occasions I stayed in a tent when camping with some friends from school. Old Monks sports club or something, I think. Quite an unusual experience, given that I’m not one of those sporty, adventurous types.)

Pangong was quite chilly when we got there at dusk. And tremendously windy. Our fixed tents were shaking and making scary sounds, especially the rickety basin in the attached washroom that moved each time the wind shook its visible bottom. However, the bed and overall arrangements were excellent. Especially the attendants, food, service and dining room. I think Ladakh reduces your expectations from life and your dependence on luxuries. Commendable, eh, coming from me - the nakhrewali princess herself?!!

Electricity is made available by means of a generator only for 3 hours between 7 and 10 pm. Read, unpack, charge your phones and cameras - finish what you want between these hours or remain in the dark! There’s running cold water in the basin, but no tap for a bath. (Not that the bathroom is really one where you can bathe, it barely has space for the pot and the rickety basin stand.) If you’re really eager, half a bucket of hot water will be delivered to your tent each morning at 7 sharp. Take it or leave it!

When I woke the next dawn, I was a little bleary coz I hadn’t slept well despite the surprisingly unexpected warmth in the tent. Nervousness to blame, the tent being protected only by a zipper that anyone could open from inside or outside. Yet, I was thrilled to watch the sunrise when the Pangong changes all possible colours that can leave you awed. It’s a fantabulous place, awesome like no other. And a few kilometres away from habitation is the spot where the 3 Idiots climax was shot. Bliss!

The trip was almost about to end. And all of us were looking forward to the “Farewell Dinner with Chang” that is advertised by almost every tour operator in their itinerary. We thought Chang was some local celebrity or tribe. No way were we prepared for a mineral water bottle filled with a Limca-like liquid. Apparently, Chhang is a local booze made of fermented rice beer. As you all know, I like to try everything once, and Chhang was no exception.

Wish it was! It is revoltingly sour both in smell and flavor, and tastes rotten. Byuaaakkk!! That one sip, and I bid it adieu for life.

The last day was reserved for leisure and last minute shopping. The market is quite expensive and has little to offer in terms of variety. Though neither mum nor I are your regular female shopping freaks, yet we avidly bought gifts for people back home. No matter where one goes, it’s always nice to get a “I thought of you” present for your loved one. That’s how packets of incense, bags, local garments, postcards, keychains, and Buddhist souvenirs all found their way into our luggage.

The next morning brought mixed feelings. We were about to leave for home, and it was also Mum’s birthday. Life can’t be one long vacation, right? And this being a birthday gift for Maa, was doubly special…

A man with torn pajamas at airport did not figure in our itinerary, nor on the top sightseeing spots in Ladakh. I guess this was Leh’s farewell gift to us. ROFL. Unfortunately, I couldn’t click a picture so you shall be deprived of this extraordinary sight. Hehehe.

Well, enough jokes. What followed was one helluva tiring journey. I travelled no less than 12 hours - 8 in and around flights from Leh to Mumbai, and 4 in the bus from Mumbai to Pune. 3 take-offs and landings (the 2nd flight was a stopover) made my ears go for a toss, and I could not hear clearly for the next 48 hours, no kidding. I did enjoy watching Tum Mile on the flight though, quite an entertaining movie.

Being an organized and planned person, I always like to reach home before the weekend ends, so that the next working day is unhampered and ordinary. And that’s how it turned out for me. Monday was BAU, and life had almost returned to normal. Funny, eh? Time’s the best healer… Moves on as though nothing’s happened…

Sorting and uploading snaps was a herculean task though, coz I had taken well over 800 pictures and did not want to preserve more than 300 – you know how it is, the excitement of the moment, and then the pics lying forgotten 360 days out of 365…

Thank you for reading this, and being a part of my adventure. Ladakh is superrrr… A must visit if you truly are passionate about nature and travelling…

Go get Leh’d !! :-)

Blessed to have been,
Princess

Monday, September 12

Ladakh Ke Nazaare

Heya!

On with what we saw in Leh…

Well, one of the few things that most excited me, was that we were on NH1 (don’t ask me why, it’s just nice! National Highway 1… Ooohh, sounds yummy!!)

Magnetic Hill was wondrous – due to some gravitational and magnetic phenomena, the car automatically moves uphill when the ignition is off, when it should ideally do the reverse. We saw the ascent with our own eyes, and were left spellbound. How the hell is this possible? Let me know if you know :-)

We checked out the Hall of fame dedicated to various soldiers and regiments, followed by the Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, where Buddha was meditating and an evil being unsuccessfully rolled a stone downhill in order to crush him. Both quite interesting places, the latter made all the more notable as we had delicious boondi and a savoury puff in the langar… Hee hee!

Next in line was Spituk Gompa, a famous monastery.

Now here’s the thing about all these Gompa’s – every village/settlement/town has one important monastery with the same name as the village, and all these monasteries are more or less the same. You need to climb a flight of stairs and obviously this presents a dreamy view of the landscape. Then there’s a Buddha statue along with pictures of the famous Kushok Bakul Rinpoche (KBR, and you rightly recall that the airport is named after him as well). There will also be snaps of Baby Rinpoche – accepted as a reincarnation of KBR, and 21 idols of Tara or the female Buddha. All with a line of silver and bronze bowls of water in front as offerings.

There’s little else, no flashy or intricate stuff that makes most Hindu temples unique or legendary. Buddhism, I believe is all about simplicity, and they take this very seriously in terms of living, talking, eating and even praying. Even the music is non-aggressive and sombre. While that is all good, visiting a monastery soon becomes a predictable and boring affair. No offence, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

I’d also have to say the same about the palaces and museums. This includes the Stok Palace and Shey Palace. They’re not as majestic as the mahals in Rajasthan, and unless you’re a serious culture and history lover, you can guiltlessly skip these on your way.

What was distinguishing at Spituk Gompa, was a huge idol of Vajra Bhairav with bottles of McDowells and other alcohol (offerings to the Lord). We also drove some way to see the confluence of the rivers Indus and Zanskar. It’s a lonely desert-like stretch, and the chilled waters are used for rafting. Sindhu Ghat is another place we were taken to, and it’s quite a nice place too.

Other famous monasteries on our list were the Hemis and Thiksay and Diskit. The Diskit Gompa is in Nubra, and is noteworthy thanks to the 110 feet magnificent idol of future Buddha. He bears a striking resemblance to the Kalki avatar of Vishnu, if I might add. And the view is undoubtedly mind-blowing as expected.

Market visits were routine when we had a stayover at Leh. We snacked once at a Tibetan restaurant and dined on the last day at a popular restaurant called Summer Harvest, both near/in the market.

And how can I forget the prayer wheels located every few steps in ach town in Ladakh!

It’s said that you can reduce your sins by turning the prayer wheel in the clockwise direction. (Not that I have too many… LOL.) Therefore, the monasteries have endless rows of tiny and mid-sized prayer wheels with bigger ones at strategic points. I and mum even got a miniature one home to remind us of our awesome time there!

The tough bit is…
There are two actually…

One, in Ladakh, every second presents an overwhelming view. In a place like this, exactly how many photographs can you click? I had to reign in my enthusiasm and keep putting my camera back in its holder.

Two, when I travel, I like to name as many names as I can to listeners, readers and travel freaks. But when I asked names of places and peaks in Ladakh, they were too complicated to comprehend and pronounce so I had to stop asking! For example, never in my life have I heard or read about a river named Shayog that flows through most of the Nubra region. Even school textbooks never mentioned it, and you know how irritating and exhaustive those texts were! I did find something called Shyok and I wondering if that is what the guide pronounced Shayog…

So, pls forgive me for anything that I miss describing. It’s a tad intentional, coz I want to make these posts short and not give away details that you should check out yourself in Ladakh or on Google!

The highlights of the trip were certainly the Khardungla and ChangLa passes – the first and third highest motorable roads in the world respectively. (The second one is in Manali). The imposing Khardungla is to the north of Leh, built at 18380 feet, and ChangLa is on the way to Pangong to the east of Leh.

Oxygen is scarce at both these locations so you obviously can’t stay there too long. You quickly grab something hot at the frugal cafeteria (usually black tea and maggi), and visit the single monastery/temple if you wish before you descend to a more habitable height.

But what certainly took the cake was the Pangong Lake. It is delightful, for loss of a better word. It just leaves you speechless. It has all the shades of blue that you can imagine, and most that you cannot. For those who don’t remember, this is where the last scene of the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots was shot. And the lake looks only half as captivating in the movie as it does in real. It makes you fall in love… with Nature, with God, with yourself… I’m gobsmacked! Check the snaps, and you shall be, too…

Apart from 6 nights in Leh, we also spent 1 night in Nubra and one in Pangong. The drives to these places provides several scenic views, most that look artificial and doctored in photographs. Like postcards. But they’re all real. They’re all fascinating. River, snow, sand, greenery – all in a single canvas, make you go quite mad and ecstatic. Sighhhh… Heaven on earth!

Nubra is at a lower altitude so it’s super hot during the day, but the evenings are pleasant. This is the only place where we desired and got a ceiling fan in our entire trip! What’s famous here are the Hunder sand dunes, where you can see and ride the two-humped camels.

Equally charming is the way to Pangong. We had an unforgettable lunch at a superb camp on the way where it started raining and we were pelted playfully with snow-like hailstones. To make up for the naughtiness, God also showed us 3 enticing rainbows. It was a day of surprises and wonders. Cute Himalayan marmots, black and white yaks and the first view of the Pangong Lake… What more can I ask of you Lord of Travel?!! You rock…

(Quick tip if you’re visiting this blog for the first time: the 2 posts below this will explain better what isn’t making sense to you here. Do read, and feel free to interrogate!)

More in my next post!

Till then,

Julley!
Princess

Wednesday, September 7

Glimpse of Ladakh

Julley, friends!

I’m back…

I begin this post with 2 assumptions:
1. You’ve read the post prior to this that will give you the background on my incredible trip to Ladakh
2. You’ve checked the yatra package that we opted for so that I do not need to detail the day-wise features of our sightseeing and schedule

On with the travelogue!

Last minute shopping and rushed packing was how we lived through the 2 days before our vacation was about to start. We’d been advised to keep warm woollens and good footwear given the unpredictable terrain and climate up north. And of course, my friends and colleagues had warned me to carry a good camera so that they could see Ladakh from my eyes… Fortunately for all of us, our Sony Cybershot cam did a stunning job in the hands of your truly :-)

(If you’re in my FB friends’ list, you should be able to access those snaps in the albums titled Alluring Ladakh and Breathtaking Ladakh. If not, drop me a line and I’ll have them made visible to you for a bit.)

Our bus ride from Pune to Mumbai was uneventful as was our flight from Mumbai to Delhi. Having started our journey from Pune at 9 am on Friday, I and mum had been travelling for roughly 10 hours by the time we got in bed at Delhi.

While Hotel Lohmod looks impressive on the website, the actual building is quite dingy and sinister. The only saving grace was they serve meals and offer free airport transfers. Anyway, we were too excited to be critical and demanding, not to mention tired. Besides, our flight was at 5 so we had to check out by 3 am.

All the exhaustion wore off when we caught our first glimpse of the snowy Himalayas. Milky-white mountains stretching as far as the eye could behold; the aerial view was a treat for the eyes. A spectacular sunrise, replete with pink clouds and virgin hills - my vocab not surprisingly failed me. Paradise sounds like a cliché but there is truly no other term that does complete justice to this abso-flipping-lutely mindboggling sight! The hues at sunrise and sunset, vibrant purples, bright oranges and fiery reds, mesmerising lavender and intense yellows. Like jewels in a priceless tiara, each so unlike the other…

You see swarms of frothy clouds walk and skip by in a straight line like orderly school-kids, and you watch some bigger clouds excitedly bustling past like rowdy teenagers about to meet their first crush. There are foamy mists above the skies engaging in their own games paying little heed to whether its noon or sundown. It’s dazzling, unforgettable and inexorable. All of us aboard the flight hastened to store these visions in our minds and lenses, we just couldn’t get enough… Such are the enthralling creations of the Almighty!

Landing in Leh is a feat of exceptional talent and bravado. To find your way amidst the mountains and manoeuvre a massive airplane safely to the lone runway, avoiding the sides of the hillocks and peaks and the gravitational pull of some magnetic ranges that could cause fatality… Hats off to the pilots and kudos to the engineers who built the airport. A job very well done!

Given that Leh is still not a very popular tourist destination yet at least for Indians, there are only 3 flights that operate between Leh and Delhi, all before noon. The airport is tiny (with only one luggage conveyor belt) and there are just a handful of tourists, mostly foreigners and locals.

I always wonder why Indians are so obsessed with going abroad (even to places as lame as Singapore) rather than exploring their own country that houses every possible environmental marvel. However, it is a boon in disguise, as it leaves the countryside clean and not very crowded. Only those that are highly enthusiastic or daring visit Ladakh, the latter often on bikes or jeeps from the Manali route, and the former, like us, fly in from the capital.

The entire region is sparsely populated, and civilization is concentrated in villages built in the valleys. This is markedly unlike Himachal where the mountainside is strewn with houses, as the mighty rivers flow in the ravines. Apples and apricots hang freely on wayside trees, and there are roses and colourful flowers everywhere.

Leh is the bigger district in Ladakh, (the other is Kargil to the northwest), has a decent market and other amenities. Electricity and other resources are not as much as concern here as in the other smaller hamlets. The most important thing you need to remember when you land is that it’s the easiest thing for a visitor to fall ill in Ladakh.

Exactly why relaxation and acclimatization is prescribed by every tour operator on the first day. Acute mountain sickness, as it is called, grips one and all in Ladakh. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, nose-bleeds and the like. Mine seemed to be a ravenous appetite; I just couldn’t get enough to eat for 2 days! Also, considering you can get frostbite and sunburn at the same time here, you have to be extra careful and dress in layers, and of course, drink ample water.

We were booked at the Poplar eco-resort in an area called Shenam which is very close to the market, precisely on Fort Road. Understandably, the hotel gets its name from the towering poplars that adorn the campus. I wonder why the abundant apricot and apple trees were denied lending their name to the resort, considering the sweet, juicy fruits that they regale guests with! Or the numerous black-billed magpies that we saw any time of the day or night…

The cottages were modest and homely, the food appeared good (coz I was enormously hungry) and everything looked marvellous. They say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. To me, everything was beautiful. Even the hammock that I almost tumbled out of while reading Secrets of the Nagas and ended up taking an unplanned siesta in, in the cosy afternoon warmth. The fluttering wings of a tiny bird broke my nap and I eased my aching joints out of the lovely pseudo-bed. It was quiet. And delightful. A great start to a terrific vacation!

Resources are meagre in this part of the country (as in most others). Meals comprise mostly a simple soup, potato and paneer, with dal and roti/bread. What sells here the most is Maggi and black tea. Hot water’s a luxury and there are fixed hours at a hotel where you can take a hot shower. Even drinking water is scarce; tour operators clearly state that they would ration one bottle of water per traveller and more can be bought. Of course, their suggestion is to drink lots of water in order to keep the body hydrated. So, we purchased cartons of mineral water bottles between the 4 of us – a young couple from Delhi were our co-travellers in this elegant land.

Mum and I hadn’t slept in two nights and hadn’t bathed in 24 hours, we desperately needed time out in order to prepare ourselves to enjoy our stay and travel in Ladakh. After popping in at Shanti Stupa that was on our itinerary for Day 1, we chose to postpone our visit to the market and retired to bed after a quick dinner.

Shanti Stupa, by the way, is a very pretty structure, with symbols related to Buddhism carved/painted on its walls. The scenery from this elevation is picturesque and the sunset (that we missed coz it was a little cloudy and we were a little late thanks to our driver Stanzing) is supposed to be outstanding.

Most people would think that spending 6 nights in Leh as we did is a waste of time. However, my perspective on this was that we needed to rejuvenate after the long drives for sightseeing and not-so-comfortable night stays at other simple hotels outside Leh. So, Leh became home that we returned to and began afresh from. Thus, sightseeing in and around Leh was also spread across 5 days, else 2 days is more than sufficient to explore this town.

What did we see in Leh over 5 days?

Come back in a bit for the answer!!

Till then,

Julley!
Princess

Saturday, September 3

Ladakh Calling !!!

Julley!

(That’s the expression that exits your lips when you’re anywhere in Ladakh. It stands for hi, bye, thank you, good day – basically a greeting and conversation starter.)

I was on vacation in Ladakh for 9 days this August. This destination was on my must-visit list, though the date wasn’t fixed until the last week before travel. It was impromptu and off the cuff, almost rebellious and mental. I just looked up some packages on the internet, confirmed if my mum was ok with the dates and made the bookings 4 days before we had to set off. Of course, the packing was left to the last day…

Whew, now when I look back it seems like such a crazy thing to do! I mean who sets off on such a grand vacation just like that, at the drop of a hat?!!

Well, that’s Anuja for you ;-)

Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab… Heard that before? That’s exactly what I put into practice. Why delay when I knew I had to get there someday?!! As the recently released movie says, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara… Do everything NOW!!

Moreover, it was my mother’s birthday, and I knew she harboured a desire to go to Leh as well. This trip would make the perfect gift for my travel-enthusiast mom. A special present for a very special Maa!

Everyone in my friends and family circle was astounded when they came to know about our plan. More so coz only mum and I were going, and that too without any detailed planning or announcements!

Here’s some good to know stuff about Ladakh:
Located in the Western Himalayas, “Ladakh” means the “Land of High Passes”. It is a part of Jammu-Kashmir, and is surrounded by Himachal Pradesh, Pakistan and China. Ladakh is literally the roof of the world, one of the highest and driest inhabited places on the globe. Its base height is about 9000 feet and the peaks rise to over 25000 feet.

(Imagine, Mumbai is almost at sea level, Mahabaleshwar is located at 4500 feet, and Mount Kilimanjaro is approx 19350 feet! People usually trek up to 9000 feet levels, and here we were, beginning our journey at this glorious height. Brrr… Scary, and exhilarating!)

So, the way I went about it – I researched some packages with popular tour operators, checking costs and logistics. Most of the details are comparable viz sightseeing, hotels, etc. However, I found the Experience Ladakh itinerary with yatra. com the most suitable.

(Check the detailed trip on this link: http://www.yatra.com/holiday-packages/booking/experienceladakh)

Why? Several reasons…

1. The per person cost was more economical than SOTC, Raj, Kesari, Thomas Cook, etc.
2. I wanted a slightly longer duration trip since Ladakh is a place where one can easily fall ill and require medical assistance.
3. I wanted to spend one night at Pangong lake – most tour operators have a day excursion that can get tiresome and deprive you of an extended viewing of the gorgeous terrain.
4. I needed a group tour since only mom and I were travelling; a customized package only for the two of us would turn out unsafe and expensive.
5. The dates had to be immediate and convenient, as August was filled with official holidays and I could get away for a few days. Besides, the season ends in September when Ladakh becomes colder and an unwise tourist spot for the less adventurous.

Having made my choice, I was assisted by Amit Pradhan from the yatra team at Gurgaon in making speedy bookings. He was extremely proactive and friendly, and this being my first time with yatra.com, I had to make absolutely sure that this was a good decision. He answered all of my few million questions and was available day and night, on working as well as off days, on personal phone as well as sms in case I had a query. Appreciate him for that! This is called professionalism!

Our tour started from Mumbai, so we had to travel from Pune to Mumbai on our own post which we’d fly to Delhi, then to Leh and return the same way. Our flights were Go Air to Delhi, Kingfisher to and from Leh, and Air India back to Mumbai. And of course, Shivneri/Neeta between Pune and Mumbai.

The hotels: starting from Lohmod in Delhi for one night as the flight to Leh was at dawn, the Poplar eco-resort in Leh, Stendel in Nubra, and the Martsemik Camping Resort in Pangong.

How much did we spend? Close to 80k for two people. This included everything – hotel stay, meals, sightseeing, personal expenses like shopping, room service and the like. Some people said I was being stupid, that I could visit a foreign locale in the same price. I couldn’t care less. It seemed appropriate to me, and I saw no cheaper way. Also, I couldn’t be bothered about making independent arrangements – everything was taken care of by the tour operator, so I could let my pretty head and control-freak brain be unbothered and relaxed… Now that’s important, right?! Money’s but a resource…

That’s all I’ve got time for now. Come back later for a day-wise commentary!

Ladakh LITERALLY rocks! And I’m blessed… and Leh’d :-)

You gotta go there someday, lovers!

Cheerio!
Princess