no road to Changthang

every once in a while, a diamond shines thru the dark cesspool of instagram hype. especially in the adventure riding community, where majority of them are happily parked in the 'carpark adv' category.

i'd heard of this duo adventuring in the Himalayas but it felt more urban legend than real. guys who'd quit their cushy corporate gigs to vagabond across the wilderness of Ladakh. sure, i'd met a few similar souls but there was something about this i couldn't quite shake off.

everyone knows everyone

didn't take long before i figured out i knew someone who knew them (the algorithm works in mysterious ways). got lucky and was invited by the man himself to a dinner bash.

the passion to play is often inversely proportional to the constraints imposed upon the freedom to do so. one of the reasons adventure motorcycling is growing rapidly (at least judging by the manufacturer's sales) is the desire to break free from the confines of concrete urban jungles.

the claustrophobia of cities is not only the physical constraints of building in your faces but also people. when you're looking at faces all day long with no affection or genuine intention to engage, it's a lifeless lonely existence.

you know everyone around you, but you don't know anyone at all. everyone knows you, but they don't have a clue what's going on in your head. we're completely disconnected from one another.

disappearing act

there's always talk about giving each other space. respecting each other's space. what space are we talking about? there's no physical space to stretch your eyes. the only direction you can find space is upwards as you look toward the skies.

but even that is constrained as you live under a roof, work under a roof, workout under a roof, party under a roof. oh wait, you're even traveling under the roof of a car, train or plane.

and what about social space? we're surrounded by people no matter where you look. there's always someone you need to be interacting with even when you don't want to be.

do you even have the space to let out a loud rebel yell and release that pent up steam inside of you? were you to actually do that, you'd find yourself in one of two locations; asylum or prison.

lost in the hills

Run to the hills, run for your lives
Run to the hills, run for your lives

the hills beckoned and these young adventurers answered that clarion call with the gusto of youth. few are lucky enough to hear such stories live from the protagonists themselves. sure i got to, over some sumptuous munchies but for those who didn't here's your treat.

you didn't actually think i'd keep yakking away in here without giving you a taste of their adventure close up, did you? the written word is an adventure in imagination no doubt but the medium of film and video offers a different dimension entirely.

what i love about their adventure is the interplay of losing themselves while finding others. leaving their worldly connections and discovering other worldly ones. disappearing from one world to reappear in another one.

finding yourself

humans are obsessed with mountains. for us Indians, our gods reside there in the Himalayas. our nomads play there. our climbers naively attempt to 'conquer' them. it's a space of secrets shrouded by silence. or is it the other way round?

either way, mountains offer man the space to find oneself. one's true self. not the name and identify you're born with. it's a space where you lose all excess baggage you're traveling thru life with. and it's what you find up there in that nothingness that attracts us.

in Changthang, our intrepid adventurers find themselves on a journey of self discovery thru the eyes and lives of the Ladakhi people of the Himalayas.

in their lives we see the joy and satisfaction of connection thru cohabitation. living colorful fulfilling lives in a land of barren terrain and hostile climes. they're witness to the strong, deep, connected beliefs intertwined across generations in the tight knit community.

life is easier together

one thing that struck me is the unity between the people of hills. whether it was the adventurers themselves riding together thru hellacious terrain (amidst heavenly views ofc) or the villagers enjoying the revelry of their colorful rituals (amidst their rigorous regular routines).

while we're drawn to the silence and solitude of the hills in order to find ourselves, and riding solo is not lonely, i'd still say play together for twice the fun! and i'm glad to witness this thru this beautiful documentation of the resilience of human spirit thru togetherness. whether as a small band of bikers or a village of nomads and settlers.

the majestic and mystical dancers are moving to the beat of the drummers, the villagers in awe and the monks directing the entire experience as designed by their ancestors centuries past. we're witnessing a harmony not just between people of the present but also those of the past, and shared with those of the future.

our young adventurers have shared this ancient unbroken timeline for us to experience thru their eyes. what will watching this do to us as we walk towards a technologically connected but spiritually distracted future? for me it's a reminder to seek solitude within while still playing with the community at large.

celebration of color

seems modernity is obsessed with what is called minimalism but is more a masked disdain for detail, color, and texture. everywhere i look, glass and steel buildings surround me. the streets are similar no matter which city i travel to. malls, airports, offices all look mundanely morbid. colors are bland, pale, and unsaturated. we're toning down our celebrations, rituals and collective emotional expressions.

but in that land lost in time we see the locals' and their bright homes, monasteries, outfits, regalia, and not to mention the prayer flags strewn across the country side. wouldn't be wrong to call them party flags even seeing how they light up the eyes of weary travelers passing thru those desolate stretches of barren landscapes.

the animated enthusiasm of the people even with complete strangers is as colorful as their environs. the warmth with which they invite and welcome our young adventurers into their midst to join in their revelry melted my heart ♥

explore the unknown

it takes a certain spark of courage to start that adventure into the unknown. over centuries, the villagers have fanned that spark into a flame that keeps them warm and toasty in the cold mountains. they have kept the flame ablaze with the strong community connection, fueled by spiritual resilience.

for the young adventurers as well, the same story rings true. they started the journey with that singular spark of raw courage and continued nurturing it thru resilience and brotherhood.

you might want to play solo by riding alone but you'll still find yourself enmeshed with the locals as you traverse thru their terrain. we are groot. no matter how you skin it or look at it, we see interconnected. we are all space dust. different permutation and combinations of atoms maybe but we're all the same really.

the more you explore the unknown the more you realise everything is exactly as you already knew deep within - the world is but one family.

wondering what our young adventurers are upto now?