HONK, HOONNNNKKKK, HONK, HONK!!! I am positive, I now need hearing aids. Yep, I am sure of it. The growing market for hearing aids for cyclists just got one bigger. I do believe the folks here have some serious honking issues. A unique technique of horn pushing is in use at all times here in the India Himalaya. There is the carnival horn, the never ending can life on mars hear me honk and my personnel favorite, the 6 part medley chorus of various octaves and ear drum vibrating you deserve to be swore at honk.
The special horns of India get a lot of use due to the fact that ramming into oncoming traffic seems to be the genetically engrained driving technique so often used throughout the day. Also, the spectacularly scenic mountains roads of Kashmir and Leh are hardly wide enough for a truck and a magic bicycle therefore I am now deaf as I enter Leh, Ladak. Good thing I am solo, cause, what’s that you say? I would not be able to hear you talking anyway.
I have replaced my headscarf with a new set of hearing aids in order to continue pedaling forward into Leh. I also have purchased a new outfit. A sexy shiny metal body armor, a second hand military metal suit left over from the 3 wars between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.
The irony is that the region is dotted with villagers of Muslim, Animism, Shamanism, Tibetan Buddhist and mixed religions, a spiritual salad of colorfully adorned people and glowing smiles. The people of the gorgeous mountains are a gentle sort with the most unique driving technique I ever hope to encounter. Remarkably, I do believe I might be the only one on the road actually trying to stay alive in India.
Here’s The Route At A Glance-Srinagar to Leh via Kargil local Rd. 450KM (280 mi)
Necessary Equipment: hearing aids and a metal spandex outfit, including a tank to clear the way
Preparation Prior to The Trip: Middle finger exercises, so that flipping the bird one hundred times a day at honking trucks will look graceful and natural
Highest Pass: The one you will have to make at the military personnel who decides to dispute your permit and say women alone on bicycles aren’t allowed down the line of control local road. This will either be a pass or a punch depending on the size of your ear ache and acquired mood from cycling in 10 tons of metal at 3500 meters. (And yes that’s true; some military man in a bad mood said that to me. I laughed, he eventually smiled, I pedaling away).
For more specific info on this auditory odyssey, feel free to post comments below