Friday, October 31, 2014

The Slap Point


I guess many will remember the MTV One Tight Slap (with a special emphasis on the "Onnneee"). At least I do. Not because I remember those jokes or really liked them as much; its just because when the voice over artist said- One Tight slap, it just captured the intense desire to whack that idiot off the screen so well. And is that the reason why I still remember it? Partially but I remember it because I hear that voice too often in my head.. don't you? 

Ever saw that family in mall which decides to have their little family meeting right at the entrance of the mall, blocking everyone's passage; or the biker who overtakes you from your left side and then gives you the look as if you are at fault; or that driver at the parking lot exit, who seems surprised to find a person asking for money as if in his universe humans don't have to pay for parking; or that couple who fall in love everyday with each other and find it necessary to post it on FB (I am surprised they haven't hurt themselves yet after so much falling); or the ones sending Candy Crush invites on FB. I bet you did. What do I find common across these people? Well many things actually, but most of all - they all need Onnnneeee Tight Slap! Put your hand to your heart and tell me that you don't agree ! 

This feeling led to the postulation of the "Slap Point". So what is Slap Point? 
I believe there is a Slap-Time Continuum in every person's life. Every action has a "Slap Value" attached to it, and every man should strive to lead a life with near zero Slap Value at all times - let's call this level as - "Slap Threshold". In short all actions which don't cross Slap Threshold can be ignored for all practical purposes - e.g. Watching SRK's Happy New Year, Supporting Mamata Banerjee in last assembly elections etc.

However, once in a while he will do those actions which crosses this level, such as - passing remarks on a girl walking by and expecting her to turn around and give you her number, Watching Humshakals , Supporting Arvind Kejriwal in up-coming Delhi Elections, and that is when he has earned his One Tight Slap, and this point on Slap-Time Continuum is called the "Slap Point".

Now the interesting thing to note is that "Stitch in time saves nine" is applicable in the Slap frame of reference as well. One Slap at the right time, can save well a lot more than nine. However just like many other deadly forces of our time (e.g. Himesh Reshamiya's rendition of tera tera tera Surooooor) this creeps up unnoticed and before you know it there is that 'one too many' moment (much like Xpose). Once you cross this point, you can never return to your ideal score of 0 on Slap- Time continuum, and forever left with a "Residual Slap Value". In short you are damaged for life- e.g. Rahul Gandhi, Sonam Kapoor or that kid who shouts - aata mazi satak li in Singham 2. This point is called "#YoRahulSoYoung's Modulus" (after Young's Modulus in elasticity). 

However, till that time of hitting the point of no return, there is hope. May be with one or may be with many; may be by one person or may be by many, that person still might come back to his original state, e.g. Indian Cricket Team, Anu Malik, Raghu-Rajiv of the world still have hope in this life. Its all up to their friends and well wishers to calculate the Slap Count and deliver it with the ferocity and intensity captured in that commercial. I am sure that this theory of mine is going to catch up soon, and soon we will have a "Swasth Bharat Abhiyaan", powered by "Ek Tamacha Jor Ka". Its up to us now, to make this world a better place - One Tight Slap at a Time... 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ladakh : The Land of High Passes:

A person might travel to many places in his life - some places so pure and beautiful that they will take his breath away, like Radhanagar beach in Havelock Islands (Andaman), or Waterfalls so big and majestic that you truly fear the strength of nature, like Jog Falls (Karnataka), or jungles so dense and mysterious, that you are bound to believe in the supernatural, like Dhikala in Jim Corbett National Park, or a place which marvels in its simplicity and will bring you closer to mother Earth, like the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. However there are but few places on earth, which will put you face to face with your own self, like Ladakh will, and that is the reason why everyone has a unique experience visiting Ladakh. Once you have lived and passed through these high passes, you will not only have more respect for those who live in these region, but also have a perspective about your own life which often gets lost between latest phone models and the biggest Bollywood release.

Set between the Kunlun Mountain range in North and the Great Himalayas in South, Ladakh is the highest plateau of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. A life on a mountain range is always tough, because many things which we take for granted on the plains, such as water, fertile soil, ease of transportation and predictable weather, are not so common up on these ranges. However Ladakh being a cold desert, makes living on these mountains truly a task for the brave hearts. 

Journey begins: 
We started on our journey from Mumbai. We took a flight to Chandigarh and then took an overnight bus to Manali. We spent a day in Manali visiting the Hidimba temple and lazing by the river Beas, and left for Sarchu next day morning. Journey from Manali to Leh takes 2 to 3 days depending on how much you want to exert yourself. Those who want to spend 3 days can halt at Keylong on 1st night, and in Sarchu on 2nd. While the total distance is around 500 Km, the roads fairly tricky at parts and not in great conditions all across, which makes long driving hours quite difficult. Having said that, this 2 day journey from Manali to Leh is probably one of the best journeys in this trip. As you start from Manali, by the time you cross Rohtang Pass, you notice that the plush green mountains have suddenly turned barren and less green. As the journey advances the barrenness only increases, however these black and brown mountains pose an amazing contrast against the deep blue sky. You should watch out for the Altitude sickness as you advance on this journey. Make it a point to drink 4 litre of water every day. Water keeps the body hydrated and saves you from more severe signs of altitude sickness. 
The staple food which you will find in most of the roadside shops will constitute of Maggi, Veg Thupka and a ginger-honey lemon tea. Most of the shops serve veg Indian dishes as well. 
Sarchu is where we halted for the night. It is said to be at a height of 15,000 ft which is higher than entire Europe. Here there were only temporary tents as accommodation. Camped in the middle of hills, our camping site offered a spectacular view of the night sky. If you can brave the cold wind at night, this sight of the night sky is something which you will carry in your memory for a long time. 
Next day, we crossed some of the highest passes in Ladakh - Lachulung La and Tanglang La. Though the second day is more tiring, it also provides more variety in terms of view. Sarchu is almost at the border of HImachal Pradesh, and once you have crossed Sarchu, you know you have entered J&K. Roads are in fact much better once you cross Pang. We reached Leh around 6 pm in the evening. 

Leh- Pangong - Khardungla- Zanskar :

Next day we spent going around the city of Leh. There are couple of notable monasteries - Thiksey and Alchi Choskor monastery, along with royal palace and the Hall of Fame to commemorate the heroes of Kargil War. We also spent some time around the main market area as it provided amazing options not only for shopping but also for eating. There are many cafes and restaurants in this area which serve a wide range of international and national cuisine. 

We had kept only 1 day to visit Pangong Lake, however if you have time, you should plan for a night halt near the lake. There are a number of temporary camp sites near the area. Pangong lake probably peaked in its popularity because of the closing scene of the movie 3 Idiots, which was shot there. I must say, many places don't live up to the hype created by such movies, but Pangong Lake is not one such place. The view of this huge lake partly in India and partly in Tibet, is truly breathtaking. The ice cold water is so pure and still that you can actually see the sky's reflection in it. The time flies when you are sitting next to this lake, and before long we realized we had to return back to Leh. The to and fro jouney from Leh to Pangong lake takes around 8 to 9 hours in totality. 

The day after we kept relatively light. We decided to celebrate the Independence Day on the Khardungla Pass, which is widely considered as the highest motor-able road in this world. While many dispute this claim, what is truly undeniable is the feeling that you get when you reach the pass, and find several more Indians who have driven, cycled or trekked to reach this pass and celebrate the Independence Day. Given the high altitude its advised not to spend more than 30 minutes at this pass. This also puts in perspective what kind of harsh climate our jawaans face on such mountain range, as go about protecting this nation. Freedom is something which often take for granted, and for once our daily fights to get the window seat in buses and trains, or catching the light at a traffic signal which seems like the biggest struggle of our lives looked so meaningless and trivial. 

The day after, we went for river rafting on the Zanskar river. We took almost 2 hours to cross around 28 Km of Zanskar river to reach the Zanskar- Indus confluence. The river has many grade 2 and 3 rapids, however what it will test the most is your will to paddle in this ice cold water. The river has an excellent view of the mountains surrounding it. On the way back to Leh, you will also come across the Magnetic hill. If a car is brought to halt on this hill, because of certain magnetic properties of the location, it is pushed up hill all by itself.

Coming back to life: 
We took our flight from Leh to Mumbai the next day. As we stood at the check in area in the airport, we were wondering if we have seen everything. Definitely not! We ddin't see the double humped camel of Nubra Valley or picturesque roads across the Kargil and Drass sectors. There is so much Ladakh has to offer, that covering it all in one trip is just not possible. And even when you have seen all, the question remains - have you experience it all ? You look at those bikers, cyclist and trekkers of all ages and nationalities and you know each is taking back a different story home. So its probably never truly possible to capture Ladakh in entirety, but I know for a fact that once you have experienced a part of this place, it stays with you forever !