10. what you seek is seeking you.

Previously, 09.Ek nadhi thi

Note : this post doesn’t speak of itineary/tips of travel, rather the experiences born out of travelling through the place : Sonamarg.

I was meaning to post this from a long time, about my travel partner.

There were a dozen drafts before, innumerable improvisations to express what she means to me. Unfortunately, outcome of all those attempts turned to “not good enough”. This is one such unsatisfied attempt.

She is the reason, “I” has changed to “we” while narrating experiences.

For the sake of narrative, I will call her Mallika.

Back in September 2016, after paying respects to the fallen, while noting down epitaphs at the kargil war memorial, I saw a girl talking to an officer. Highly unlikely place and unlikely time for a girl to travel  alone I thought to myself. I entered military canteen for some warmth.

“Its Friday, you wont find much transportation today. But try your luck” said the solider at the checkpoint.

There was dead silence except for the sound of strong winds.
I have thought till kargil. Beyond this point, I had no idea where to go.

I was waiting there, with a fatigued brain without a restrain. A thousand mental tragedies took place in my mind before they really happened.

There was only one Xylo left lying at the parking space. I was waiting eagerly for their onset. “get transport = leave. No transport = stay kargil” I told self.

It was Mallika’s cab. I requested pleaded the driver if I could join their ride. “towards Leh or Srinagar. Anything works”

[short silence] driver half turned to backseat and waiting for signal from mallika over his shoulder.

A “hmm” of acceptance from the backseat.
I jumped into the front seat immediately thanking for the kind consideration, never been so happy to hear a “hmm”.

Tiger hills. Zero point. Zojilla memorial. For the remainder of the journey, I did nothing but to stare at the beautiful desert until, tea stop breaks broke the silence between us. The only adventure in this trip is sitting in a car that technically rides on the inch of the dangerous track.

While we were ascending and descending zojilla, it occured to me that we are carving around the same mountain at varying altitudes. “Zojilla or godzilla.. what is this place”, She gave a calm serious look which roughly translated to ‘one more word and I will throw you out’.

As we cautiously descended into the valley, a board read “Welcome to YHAI Sonamarg!!”. I was excited to find YHAI, since i was on a tight budget. Only to learn later that the hostel is fully booked by some college students as they were on some camp programme.

I walked into sonamarg’s  little street on foot and saw JKTDC house. The moment I saw,  I knew I had to stay here. Of course, who can resist this mini mansion house.

Needless to say, she was staying in the same guesthouse, just next door with a proper booking. I had learnt about this when i returned that evening from thajjias glacier road.

I was happy a moment, scared the next to meet her again.. she spoke something at those tea breaks, none of which i couldn’t even remember, even her name.

I was in a pure state of trance.. the feeling of being brought back to life for finding a transport… Never had i thought transport itself as luxury let alone the comforts in interior!

After a few stutters and stammers trying to cover up, i admitted and apologized that i didn’t pay any attention to the conversation we had earlier. She was a little taken back.

After a few minutes of talking in the middle, she said in a mocking tone
“would you even remember this?”

A comfort in the stranger valley is the least expectation I had. A wittier one is a blessing.

“Shall we have dinner together, dinner is on me”
beware what you are asking for sam [in a playful tone]
[ofcourse] I remember your name, you told your name at tiger hills.

At every opportunity she got to tease me, she did.

Thajjias restaurant[7.30pm]

I kept wondering how she has no inhibitions and a least scarce of hanging out with a stranger in this quaint village. Its another story if the city was packed with tourists, but its almost the village of silence.

We got to the restaurant in the nick of  time just before he was about to close and while browsing through the menu –

“so, where to next?”
seriously nowhere, I like it here for now. calm, peaceful, alone.
“lets order something. any ideas?”

I couldn’t stand those questions. Precisely att that moment because I was completely lost.

“where have you been to?”
Dal lake, Srinagar. Have you been there? you should visit…  about the dal lake, about the people, about the hospitality.. about its current sad state.. and how i managed to reach kargil..

She tried to interject in the middle but poorly failed several times. Until she got her chance, she was preparing to weave a tale. She has strong bonds with Srinagar, of course. 

Mallika was glad about her new company, because she gets to order more dishes without having worry about food wastage.

When we were having our dinner, one of the hotel staff sat close to us watching tv.

I asked him something casual just for the sake of having a word with him. And he responded with utmost interest. One word led to another.

Next moment, he spoke of how the fire broke out on the top floor accidentally, how the season remained denying their fair share of business/let alone profits.
I just listened in silence, she encouraging him to speak by nodding. He spoke of his mishaps, he answered himself. We were feeling sympathetic towards him. But didn’t speak of it. We spoke in silence that’s not going to do. Instead, the good things and about gushtabha preparation diverting his focus.

We came out talking about the struggles they had millitary-wise, terrain-wise, and most importantly of the greatest demon of limitation – weather.

Waving good-night, we went into our respective rooms and was dead to the world till next day morning.

I lost track of time  at sonamarg. I was afraid this company could impact my self-healing-therapy of being away from crowded life and activity.

She stopped me blabbering one time saying to stay quiet,”happiness like silence”

I was in for a surprise for things she said. “Have I found my clone?“a voice within

I had the good fortune of visiting mallika when she was at work.
Her ability incredible, patience infinite.

I was so swayed, that I picked up some of her habits unknowingly and reviving my old habits of communicating in mails.

“we barely spend time to think and write to someone,
these phones promote lazy talks losing all the intensity of emotions,
when the beloved goes far away,
the distance, the longing is not felt because they are just a click away.
How great it would be, if there was no instant lazy talk options, imagine”

She kept talking staring at mountains/ eyes closed/ reading something.. i kept listening all day.

Finding a company that lets you stay -self is a blessing. I believed i was destined to reach this place, just to find this travel partner.

And this one was just a prelude to the magnificent days in south.

Its almost an year I left sonamarg for srinagar->delhi->hyderabad. But a part of me, a part of my day still roam with mallika around sonamarg. “Doing nothing”, our favourite activity.

Who should I complain to for the insanity she promotes,
who should I complain how unpredictable she gets,
and who should I thank for the mystery she is.

when I asked her last 3 lines, she answered, “Thank your hardships“.

Thank you, hardships!!

Meadow of Gold by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

mechanised stallion by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

the lifeline by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com


On wheels – Teenage Spirit.05

Disclaimer : This isn’t a travel guide or itinerary.. rather an account of my experiences.

For the sake of continuity, please refer :On Wheels – An Old friend.04

[December 02, 2015]

I have reached my destination in one piece.

Karwar, the sign board read.City clasped by the mighty western ghats on the east and Arabian sea on the west.

I have learnt 2 facts before arriving here:

  • It has a sea coast and is at the bum of Goa
  • Karwar means a corner [safe corner| bay of safety]

Thoughts of highway cacophony, damaged patchy roads and the troubles I dealt with lorry guys were quietly sidelined by the senses of ocean.

Every wave came to the shore breaking away with a message “another wave is coming”.

Sun went into the west,
Birds flocked into the east : leaving ocean to my company.

Roof over my head is the least of my concerns at the sight of rustling sea waves.

Everytime I paid a visit to ocean : chennai, kanyakumari, vizag, pondicherry, danushkodi… the ocean took away something or I had given up something voluntarily.

It has become a regular ritual, this transaction. As if I was bribing the ocean for doing nothing. There wasn’t a reason or expectation for this like the transactions that happen in temple.

This time, I felt ultra-light at heart and could feel the strange karmic connect.

Hampi has made my heart lighter, this ocean just gave wings.

Start a discussion about ocean with me and I would never stop this dabble.

Food I had at Sree guru dhaba earlier has gone down my intestines, and a craving began inside that only a proper dinner could satisfy.

At first, I felt chained by my bike. That this companion is restricting my freedom to move. But not longer. There is no train to catch, no seat to bargain for, no private travels to bargain with.

Oh hearing from a local guy that Goa is ~25km away and the  fact that petrol is 7rs lesser than karwar bunks got me excited.
Excited not about saving money, but finding an excuse to drive again. Isn’t it a pleasure to cross a defined border and move at one’s will.

Two kinds of spirits to be excited about  : 1. teenage spirit and 2. C2H6O.


The fact that  my teenage dream, apache along with me made the goa-karwar sprints euphoric.

I was in my 6th grade when I saw this Apache RTR 160 TV commercial.


A boy watches TVS Apache through glass-pane with his tiny hands bracketing his view,
admiring the beast it is.
He dreams of driving it one-day, [flashcut] he envisions his youthful self driving apache
banking sharply on a racing track pegging at its full throttle.

His father interrupts him and takes him away.
But the boy keeps his eyes fixed on the bike.. and the commercial ends with the tagine unleash the beast.

Few days later, I ended up at the local showroom staring at yellow Apache in display, just dreaming of having it one day.

I have been deeply sentimental to ride the Apache that I have to my name. I rode Apache only after my father has brought it for me in my early engineering days [2011feb], without a test ride to check for suitability.


similar commercial with different story-line:

Many valentines day has passed ever since Feb 2011. Apache, this Apache live with me despite the disasters, despite the accidents.

The students of Engg college, karwar were very generous to include me in their evening beach volley games.
Sunset and beach volley. I need nothing for the moment.

Is there a greater pleasure than being the witness of sun’s act of waning and waxing, in the morning and evening?

Is there a soul satisfying construction than building sand castles with the kids as the color of skies change?

Is there any better channel of wisdom sharing than listening from a veteran early in the morning ?

And, Is there any competing pleasure for eyes than watching beautiful women at the beach posing?


That way, I have decided to end my watch here and go back home with several crucial decisions.

Decisions like not to use pantene again no matter how fucked up hair is.,
not to expect spicy biryani anywhere outside Hyderabad.
and never to let anyone have a say in my life ever again.


Glad you made it till here. If there is anymore patience left in you, here’s a video that could test your patience further.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Until Next time.. Peace!!

06 . Chocolates – 01

Hi, is this the road to lamayuru monastery?

No, you’ve crossed already.

Oh, can you tell the route please!!

Go back, reach there turn there, reach there turn there.. there you will find the monastery.

[While the kid was giving out directions, my focus slowly shifted from finding route onto him, wondering what he was doing at this construction site.
Slowly another kid faded in from the background running towards us]

The two had complementing skin tones and the kid’s hat was visually appealing.

Can I take a photo of yours?

They didn’t say anything, but stood focused with frozen expressions.
Is a smile too much to ask for ? should I ask them for a smile?
“Take what there is. Avoid forced expressions!!” told myselves trying to capture their natural best in the cold.


Moments later, three others joined the party.
Now there are 5  in the frame .. laughing, smiling, giggling compensating for the silence in the village.

They were excited to be captured, to pose. Quite visible

I asked them permission to capture although I knew their answer.

Would you mind if I take your photo? in a Hindi that I knew.

There is a psychological reasoning behind asking permission to capture people.
Not only this grabs the attention but also facilitates comfort in frame.

Developed this new habit from someone close…

IMG_8219.jpg Thank you, I smiled at them and was about to leave satisfied with my shots.

The one in the middle dubiously stepped forward, asking for preview of what I took..

Then there were 5 heads into the lcd monitor of the camera assessing my shots.

they looked at themselves, mocked their friends, and left with a smile giving their approval.

They made sure that I took their pics right… verified, certified OK.

One of them asked softly,  “Chocolates.. do you have chocolates ??”

Sorry, no chocolates. But let me see what I have.. wishing to find something that could satisfy these kids . There was badam pack I picked up at leh market… you like these?

he took a sample from the pack, did QC and then took a handful assuming them for chocolates.

The one in the middle hesitantly took a few into his hands, ‘take take..’ I welcomed them to have it as they wish.. just like that, they almost emptied the pack of badams.

The first one came again and I gave him away the cover. Their pants had little holes that drained the badam in one’s pocket. Op.Save Badam has began.


It was indeed a pleasure to have lost my way. Otherwise, I never would have crossed these little souls.

Chocolates, chocolates. Like a Nomad looking for food, I was searching for hot water and Chai anywhere and everywhere I go.

The way he said chocolates clung onto me that I desperately looked for chocolates everywhere. At chai stops, at petrol bunks, at restaurants, at dhabas and in the wild but couldn’t find one.

It was cold, and the drive made the atmosphere way too cooler. And I need a chocolate. Chocolate is my new destination.

Sharing some other moments —>


Little boss in Lamayuru
IMG_8262.jpg Smile
IMG_8200.jpgHappy to pose


05. sweet riverine

When we were growing up, many of us were told the stories of how being good, doing good things in life takes us to a place called heaven.

At some stage in life; after the imperfection and obstacles, we find reasons to believe that there is no goodness in the world, that this place is just another rude hell we end up rotting in.

Forced to believe that this is how it’s supposed to be, often translated as reality..
We surrender.

The winds along the river stirred a strange reminder of what I grew up longing for.

A place where even minute feels forever.
Where water rustles spoke music.

Without a hint, I was living in the past. Sep nov 2016.

Isn’t it how it is? Switching to past unconsciously, then pull ourselves into the present.

Past|Present|past|present and then Future (dreams in the dark), wondering if the timeline pattern is same for everyone.

Those moments were so pure,  when I thought of them just remembered nothing but the river itself.

Have you noticed ? the flow of rivers and the uncanny resemblance to humans ?

  1. They break away while flowing, forming meanders on their path.
  2. They break away, but wouldn’t stop.
  3. They may change their course in time, but not the direction.
  4. They leave away their broken parts as lakes and move on to unite the waters of ocean?
  5. The lake / leftover parts of the stream acts to purify itself with terrific stillness.

Inspiration  Travel  Relax.

May be I would never figure out why I am here.

I am in my own company, but there was a feeling of togetherness.

After all,this river is the character that reminded me, helped me realise what I was missing and what I deserve.

I always had this fear of forgetting. Constantly recollecting the memories wouldn’t help, may be its a big deal to my little brain.

Trying to capture every finest detail in words and pictures and hopelessly failing at it,
I kept following the course of river|Life on my borrowed bird.

Connecting dotskarakoram ranges by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

Off Season Greenery

Nimmoo by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

Easy choice.. Chiling!!
Choice in hand by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

Roads & mountains that guard the zanskar river borders.
Kaatru Veliyidai!!

Silently, the wind stole water.
Here is the proof.IMG_8449

Finally, the meeting place!
How many colors would blend in to form this!!


04. Broken backs

Sunrise just as everyday, but special in its own ways.

It was one of the best night; probably  because I do not remember falling asleep.

A couple from Delhi checked-in next door that morning.
At first, both seem struck by AMS.
Later learnt that they revealed themselves to the desi herbs.

Explaining the possibility of nightstay at Lamayuru, left half luggage with the Landlord and went straight to do sanity check of Bullet that I borrowed yesterday.

Not the bullet that kills, the bullets that can take you to places.


Only two things mattered to me the most that moment..

Leather Jacket & Rayban Shades. All else is in mute.

At first, I  Though the DSLR gives more freedom of expression by having the choice of Aperture, Shutter and manual focus. I was equally fatigued fearing that these pictures might deprive me of my “me time”, that I will spend the most time taking pictures.

Every shot was a challenge. To hold the camera still is a challenge let alone composing a shot. The time spent taking those pictures was worth every little discomfort.

In the process of adjusting, I just got addicted to the breezy expanse. As beautiful as the landscapes were; the more challenging they were to own, to capture, or even to embrace.

I was running short of words. Every frame that I tried to capture, demand me to breathe a little heavier next time ( High altitude, low on oxygen.. duh!!!)

After several sharp curves and mountains, came a straight path, where the mind took turns.IMG_8075

Noticeably, there were sudden strong winds blowing from west..from Sonamarg.

Having someone to bother, to experiment and to dabble in air together.

Should I have agreed to travel together? Was it mistake to go alone?
Flurry of thoughts/ideas floated in my mind until the road offered challenges.


I kept asking her to pose to get the best shot, but only got it right when she isn’t paying attention.
So were my best shots.

“Wish I could stand by these mountains forever“, a voice said. One among the many voices that reside in me. comfortably forgetting the chilling pains of cold weather.

A few drops of vinegar in 100 kg sugar and no one ever will ever taste sugar.

So were the little discomforts : the vinegar.

so was the experience : the sugar!!

Whom should I thank for routing me here..
whom should I thank for the mystery she is!!

Consciously, I fell for the harshness yet again…


Of course, no travelogue is incomplete without the mention of Chai.





03 . Destination


There are always two destinations: The one we know and the one we do not know.

This destination I have heard of, read of is much different than I thought.

I was suggested to rest for the day to get acclimatized to the weather.

A surreal mix of fact and fantasy it is.

The rapidly transforming weather confused me. I kept asking my senses what time of the day it is.

“just 10 minutes passed away?” asking myself, kept tapping my watch.

Creative potential of these young fold mountains is intense.

Usually prone to excessive adjectives whenever I come closer to nature;

I became deaf. I couldn’t move a muscle, I was stoned. Plus I was sleepless last night reading to Rumi’s parables.

Closed shutters, abandoned roads welcomed me just like Srinagar.
Only this time, it was the weather responsible for close down, not insurgency.

Perhaps, intense weather could be the greater villain that no one dare challenge.

In a way, going to places during the “OFF” season is a blessing.

Off season = Authentic peace – (Selfie experts + tourist chaos)

While thoughts took time to germinate, I began working on the Map that I took from JK tourism help center, hand-picking the routes and adjusting mind compass.


After several negotiations with the weather, began my scout with borrowed lens.

Sometimes, you don’t realize the happiness within but you are smiling. The same happens when we get what we long.

I chose to start this journey solo., but karma had something else in its backhand.

I chose to be secretive about this trip. There is no point trying to explain difference between awe awful to people who think both are same.

Nervousness and the hesitation still stayed while socializing. But a comfort has developed with self being.

Of course, every journey is a journey in itself.

Some faded memories ⇓⇓⇓

clasped by mountains by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

Leh city bus stop by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com


School students by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com



Dryfruit mart by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

Gompas by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com

uninvited by Samuel Reddyprogu on 500px.com


02 . Layover

Layover of 6 hours facilitated me to breathe normally and prepare for another cabin atmosphere.

This could be my last trip!

That’s what the thought always was.

We often get stuck, get out of it, then restart/start hoping that this would be the last time.

Nothing finds us on a trip, there isn’t a hidden treasure.

How could there be a treasure when the treasure itself is oneself?


As I roamed around passing through each and every gate my boarding pass has access to, a group of people wearing most typical Indian attitude with vegetables and rice satchels in their hands caught my attention.

In no time, the thought that came across my mind “why are these people here, they look so poor. How do they afford this”.

Retracing back those thoughts with guilt,
I cussed myself for reducing those people on grounds of appearance.

But the thought of where they are going kept me fascinated.

……Thousand words, thousand water drops and some thoughts later..

As soon as the first announcement for my flight was aired, a long strolling queue was formed by the same people mentioned before.

It was the most defining moment. There was a Ladhaki family, few Indian Army personnel, countable outsiders like me and the whole charter been occupied by people with rice bags and vegetables as their cabin luggage.


Another round of personal judgement has begun. I was more curious this time.

What business do these guys have in there? the question traveled along until there was an answer.

The usually welcoming Air-hostesses were visibly grossed out to welcome these people aboard.

Such racists!! I thought. Who am I to judge the crew for the similar thoughts I had earlier.

I haven’t paid attention while check-in. “any window seat with good view please” I asked.

In a way, my wish became true,  but wings/engines kept obstructing my view.

While the flight was taxing towards the runway, I was examining the rudders, cabin design, wings pattern and this..

the little breather hole.


Flight safety instructions began, air-hostesses were growing insensitive to pitch the people about emergency door exists.

“If there would be any complications in this flight and have to use emergency doors, we would disappear in these mountains”,I thought.

While I took out camera to do what I came for and asked the possibility for a seat change, the air-hostesses suggested I stay at my seat as the flight was full.

Immediately, the person sitting beside me asked,”kya bola tha janaab aapne usko?”(what did you ask her ,sir?”

I responded to the eagerness, “for a seat change.. to take photos from the window seat” in my most polite tone.

In close firing range, I shot my questions to them like a reporter as to how why they were travelling by flight.

They responded very humbly, for every word I spoke, there were head-turns which turned exciting from being scary.

As rough as they seem, they were extremely polite.

May be that’s the thing living in harsh environment that leaves them polished; leaving no scope for inner-harshness.

After 48 photos and heavy turbulence due to the mountains’ echo, reached my destination.

Some moments form >40,000 ft altitude :



PS : Unedited images : Please bear with the sensor dust in the images.