India, Jammu and Kashmir, Road Journals
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The day of the U-Turn

Winters had started settling in Leh. I used to get up the earliest, take the coldest shower from the waters of Indus. For at least half a day to come, my peace with that.

I was making tea when i heard Cynthia, singing. An old American woman who had been teaching in Leh for last 29 years. From the US, she arrived each winter to teach Laddakhi students. I offered Cynthia Tea. She said “I am sorry, I am still not Indian’ and laughed out loud. And asked me to come up and look at the old lines on her table.

The table had a beautiful map. And this map sounded fulfilling. It had a path along the river Indus, that left the road way down and lead one to an ancient looking narrow canyon. She suggested, I must take that. And then without asking walk for an hour or two to the village called TAR. There lives my best friend; in a cave, like kitchen, where Ibex’s and snow leopards come sometimes to say hello.

I left. In between late and very late. Almost not sure. Not excited. On my Himalayan. but something felt missing the whole day. More motivation! No. What had I thought and where am I leading myself to. The path seemed contrasting in my head. And Just before getting close to half the way to Chilling, I u-turned from a gorgeous bridge over Zanskar and rode back like I wasn’t riding. Faster, anxious as one gets after getting a temporary focus, on my way back to Leh. A blinker of a turn and I almost threw myself under a truck. If you are here reading, and have ever come close to feel a bump just before a possible death, well i was so close that in those moments I whispered to myself inside that helmet, okay! I am here, but then i don’t know how i just slid past the big tires. It was a warning, scary warning and will keep in check for upcoming few days on the my ride to the border roads.


An old image of my north-Indian bike journey on my good old Pulsar

Those days many things were going on in head, as UT was a new thing for the region things were not in place. I remember i took a U-turn because if i did not get the inner permit signed, i would be trapped in let for another 3 days with motorcycle meter ticking on each day.

I straight away rode to the permit office and got the stamp for Hanle. It is one of the remotest areas in Southern Ladakh. It’s getting colder every day and Hanle will just be a like horses sitting on wind. Almost 250 kilometres from leh, reaching Hanle in a day is going to be one long journey. The only way I know I can enjoy it, is by making the most evoking memories, images and film ever to have come from a human from that place, more so words. There will be something I ll take back home for the world before I conclude this long story forever.

Many lines on my land

It’s Mr. Modi’s birthday tomorrow. I wish him from my bed here. And it’s my birthday the day after. It may happen that i will be beyond the towers of the corporates for next three days. But if I am not. I will see you again with some more words.

As for Cynthia’s map. I have a plan 🙂

Nara : x

This entry was posted in: India, Jammu and Kashmir, Road Journals


Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

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