I hitchhiked from Leh to Manali on a Bike
And sometimes, just sometimes… your dreams come true, riding towards you.
Somewhere between Leh and Manali
Just when I was about to give up on getting a ride from Karu to Manali, I decided to give it one last shot a few km away from Karu where riders usually stopped to give their ass a break and have a meal at this cozy little dhaba. I absolutely dreaded boarding any sort of public transport as the roads were bumpy and I am a little too tall to be comfortable in those small cramped up seats on ravaged roads. So, I thought it would be better to walk a few km than cursing myself later. It took me approximately an hour to walk up the distance and the second I reached, without wasting any more time, I popped out my thumb. After a few minutes, I saw a group of bikers cruising towards me and my eyes lit up on the thought of travelling the stretch on a bike; something every Indian rider has on his bucket list. But will all those glistening eyes, in my heart I knew that would not happen as the distance is around 470 km and nobody wants an extra load. Anyway, riders respect their club a lot and pay huge amounts to be in one, so why include a stranger for free? All my wishful thinking was turned to dust as the entire club passed me, waving as if mocking me.
In a split second, I was behind my office desk again; behind a computer screen, making excel sheets, trying to make both the ends meet. Working for somebody else to realize their dreams as mine just got limited to my desktop background, search history and canceled flight bookings. I spent quite a few hours of my 9-5 in shortlisting biking clubs I would like to join and the roads I would like to ride on. I spent quite a few hours of my 9-5 daydreaming about cruising with the wind, chasing the sun, until it set behind that mountain I wished to climb or until my ass got numb. Hence, I spent quite a few hours of my personal time, finishing work around panic shaped deadlines. The sound of an Enfield getting near snapped me back to reality and I, as needy as ever, pulled out my thumb. The rider did slow down. I did ask for a ride. He did agree. I won over myself yet again when he said, “hop on” in an Israeli accent.
The Dream Ride
I did not think twice before sitting behind the guy who came as a blessing when I really needed one. It suddenly dawned on me that I did not have any helmet or knee and elbow guard or anything to save me if the hell broke loose and we crash; I just wore a sun cap, fleece, shorts and a pair of flip flops but who cared? A little gamble trusting an unknown person riding his bike across one of the most beautiful roads and passes and I got a memory for a lifetime. Label me crazy if you must but this is how I satisfy my bottled up curiosity of the unknown and it never disappoints. We made a night halt at Sarchu at a dhaba and bounced for Manali when the first ray of sun hit us, stopping several times along to way for chai which acts like fuel for me. On our way to Rohtang Pass, we lost balance and slipped. While not too fatal, the little accident injured my foot and other bikers came rushing for help. They helped us with our bike and straight up asked me about my safety gear, to which I replied, ‘I am hitch-hiking’. They blankly kept staring at me for good five minutes and called me mad (I guess, in a good way). Vladdy and I chatted a lot. We never shut up, sharing stories of the road and getting nostalgic. He is one crazy Israeli chap too. He bought his bike in Goa and rode it all the way too Leh. He planned on selling his bike off at Manali and flying back to his home country. When we finally reached Manali, I gave myself a pat on the back for covering approximately 450 km on a stranger turned friend’s bike. The next day, I had to leave for Delhi and in a hurry, I made a decision I still regret. Vladdy had gone out to meet his girlfriend before I woke up and did not return until it was my time to leave. I left without meeting or thanking or saying my goodbye to him. I don’t have a picture with him or his contact details just good memories with a person who I’ll never meet again. A person who made a deep impression and a person whose real name I don’t know.
Happy or sad?
Sad or Happy?
This memory is a sea-saw between conflicting emotions.
But hey, sometimes, just sometimes… it’s worth it.