26th August 1994, Wednesday………Day(8) Ramban-Amritsar (380 km)
It was our 8th and last day of the ride. Previous night, we had our first full body bath and shave of the ride. And after getting that grime off the body we were able to recognise each other. Morning at Ramban was all mist and lush green, clouds were playing hide and seek with the mountains and valleys. It was drizzling lightly.
At around 8.30am, after tea we began riding for Amritsar. It kept on raining but we did not stop. Took break at Batote and had nice lunch. From Udhampur we took short cut to Samba. Initially, the road was good but became pretty bad later on. Around 30 kilometer of road was very very bad, perhaps the worst of the ride. We reached Mansar lake at around 2.30pm. The road thereafter was good comparatively.
It kept on raining though while we kept on riding. At Dhariwal (Punjab) we got first puncture of the ride and that too right in front of a puncture shop. After getting the puncture fixed, we did not stop and reached Amritsar at 7.30pm. On reaching Amritsar I got to know that my wife and daughter were in Amritsar.
It was an amazing feeling meeting my two year old daughter and wonderful wife. Next day we bought some gifts, sweets and snacks and reached our home in Khem Karan. Got some friends and relatives together and celebrated my daughter’s 2nd birthday in the evening.
Although I skipped riding to Khardungla Pass and Nubra Valley and instead chose to return back to celebrate my daughter’s birthday but the feeling was still great. I could realise my dream of riding to Ladakh on both the Manali-Leh Route and Leh-Srinagar Route, learnt so many lessons, met so many wonderful people.
Learnt how much I loved and missed my family. How I dearly resolved to take them along at so many places thereafter and in pursuit of life. Learnt the power of dreams and will to pursue them and that nothing was impossible if we are sincere in our pursuit.
And then the feeling that I got of returning in time to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, is beyond words to express. I am so thankful to Mother Nature for guiding me and giving me strength to complete this ride. Thanks to my brother for his tenacity and parents for their love and care.
Luckily I had called a videographer and a photographer to cover the celebration which was not very common in those days. We talked, sang, danced and played a lot that evening and were able to capture some of those beautiful moments.
Since my daughter has grown up and joined by a wonderful brother in 1995, both of them have contributed a lot in me getting freedom and travel at my will. Whenever we sit back and watch that birthday video, my tanned face, lean body and all those amazing moments come alive as if it was only yesterday…………….!!!