Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#lehDiaries: the beginning

it's probably every Indian biker's dream, and it has been mine too. the first time I went to leh in 2009, i was so taken aback by everything that I knew I had to go back, but i wasn't sure if I would ever have the skills or mettle to actually succeed in the endeavour. the dream endured, until one fine day last year, when my friend Abhishek (who, incidentally, i had only met once before that day, and that too, by accident) excitedly called and told me that he was riding to leh, and that i absolutely had to come.

it was a long shot, since we were barely a month and a half from the proposed dates, my manager was on a two week vacation, and i had absolutely no idea how i would prepare for such a trip.

I did realize though, that a lot had changed since 2009, and if there was a time to attempt leh on bike, this was it. and so, preparations began. starting with booking train tickets, then getting my leaves approved, getting my biking gear in order, and finally, upping my off-roading skills a bit.

my train tickets didn't quite go through (i was waitlisted until literally the night before my journey), i borrowed most of my biking gear, and my attempt to ride up rajmachi to prepare failed quite terribly (it was my third failed attempt, at that!). the only thing I had going for me was the fact that i had 17 days' leave, and that Abhishek passed on this never-say-die attitude that saw me through.

when i think about it now, we were rather cowboy-ish in our preparations, and a lot was left to luck... but our luck held. the ride was a success. and everything was out of the world.

those 17 days were out of the world. those 17 days were probably my best days of 2013. those 17 days were heaven. and much as I didn't want to return, i knew I had to. and i knew I would have to go there again and again. and i did. and i will.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

++

another birthday. another half-expected, but still surprising, surprise. the usual suspects and the usual agenda. and yet, something different. it seemed like things have been the same, but it is very obvious that they are not. i'm slowing down. I'm taking it easier. but raising my standards, ever so slightly. sometimes it feels like it's too slight. but I'm happy, and that's what matters. it's hard to pinpoint moments, but i am. i'm finding happiness in new things, and that is encouraging. i'm also getting better at leaving behind what I don't need to carry, but knowing my life, that may just be an illusion. i can leave most things behind, and it's nice and scary at the same time. i sometimes don't realize what i have picked along the way, but my life is rarely about control. and i think i was always good of making do.

and so here I am, looking forward and looking back, when everything seems almost the same. I know that I will never let it be the same, but i have no idea how it will be different. there is no plan, no direction, but some spark. and i hope it will keep going.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#lehDiaries: chapter two

3955 km and 18 days later, i'm back where I started. i could say it's just a dream I've woken up from. but i have four lovely people who shared it with me, and it's a dream I can go back to, every time I close my eyes, and feel the bite of an icy mountain wind, the dust in the air, my damp socks, the drone of Carly's engine, the crunch of gravel under her wheels. as the days go by, these senses will fade, and all we'll be left with will be photographs and videos and a few lingering memories... and it will be time to hit the road again, for another chapter in my #lehDiaries

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

stuck

today was a day of very random coincidences:

i missed my office bus by precisely a minute - i was actually gonna leave my desk 5 minutes early and grab a snack, but i broke a build and the build servers were overloaded so took longer than usual.

my usual lift home (a colleague who lives nearby and generally leaves about 15 minutes after the office bus), left an hour early today.

I got drenched walking to the bus stop in the downpour.

i missed the AC express bus by barely half a minute.

I left two regular buses that would have taken me home as they were too crowded (bursting at the seams with people is a more appropriate description).

took the third bus as it was much emptier than the ones I just left.

the third bus takes the most convoluted route ever.

two and a half hours later, i'm still in the bus, which has taken a two hour circuit of andheri East and is now barely 15 minutes (by any other sane means of transport) from where I started from.

my bike, which I gave for servicing yesterday evening, is still not ready, and will take another day.

the bus hasn't moved in the last 35 minutes.

I'd have been home if i waited another HOUR in office and took the 745 bus home.

I haven't eaten since lunch, which was 8 hours ago. the only edible stuff with me is a 25g packet of chips. I'm saving it for when the hunger gets unbearable.

the bus transmission is making strange metallic sounds whenever it inches forward. its shocks have already bottomed out multiple times so far.

we're somewhere in aarey, in a spot that gets data while still registering no signal. no calls going through.

my bluetooth, tab and ipod are out of charge (i forgot to charge the latter two since yesterday), and my phone's on 25%.

it's pouring cats and dogs outside.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

happy-go-potlucky: meatloaf!

i love potluck parties. mainly because i think other people cook much better than i do, but also because... home cooked food has a lot more passion (and a bit more sweat) than restaurant take-aways. so when the porkaholics potluck was discussed (and eventually, announced and planned) i jumped at the opportunity.

also, the past few months have seen me gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen. mostly marinating stuff for camping BBQs, but also a few attempts at home/friends' homes. and to top all that, i've been craving meatloaf for years now. no idea why mom stopped making it. so it was decided: meatloaf it will be!


recipe (quantities are what i used, scale for whatever quantity you're preparing):

1.5kg pork mince
500g bacon mince
250g ham, cut into tiny bits
2 pavs (can substitute with sliced bread)
fresh juice of 5 lemons
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala

boil all the meats with the salt and minimum water, stirring continuously for about 30 mins
let it cool, add the spices and lemon juice
break the bread into tiny bits and add, to absorb the gravy
after it's cooled completely, beat 4 eggs and mix in well
grind in a mixer until it's a thick paste
fill in steel cans (ensure the lid shuts well, steam shouldn't get in), and steam for about 30 mins

to steam in a pressure cooker, put a small stand (i used a wide flat bottomed bowl), fill with water not more than the level of the stand, and place the cans over it. close the lid of the cooker but do not use a whistle. ensure the water doesn't dry out (you'll see a continuous stream of steam as long as there's water).


cool till room temperature, and then refrigerate for it to set. do not freeze.

note: the spices was on the lower side, so increasing them a bit might be a good idea :)

finally, this is what it looked like at the potluck (thanks angona for the photo!)


and the rest of the yummy spread

ps: mom made it this time... while i was lazing around. will make sure i do it myself next time before she gets to the kitchen. but it's so simple, anyone can!

pps: original recipe had 1 kg beef mince, 1/4 kg pork sausages and 1/4 kg pork salami. i substituted all three with pork mince.