Music is something that appeals to all of us. But everyone has a different taste. What might be noise to one person may be a headbanging metal sound to another. Similar, what might be a howling noose to some might be a beautiful opera song to another.

For bikers, their bike is not less than a beuriful lady; and every sound it makes, is music to their ears

Taking this though forward, MRF created the MRF NV Mix. Here, the bikers can mix the sounds of various elements of the bike and turn it in to a tune. Yes, these sounds were recorded from the actual bikes and they ain't some electronially developed fake noise.  

The fun doesn't just stop here, one can also download these and set it as rightone. And if you think you've created a Grammy-winning track, shsre it with your friends and collect votes. The track with the most votes and judges' marks stamds to win a Honda CBR 250R.

In order to win the bike of your  dreams, here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Create your profile using FB or G+

Step 3: Create your mix. For this:

I. Select the type of track (Hiphop, Bollywood, EDM or Rock).
II. Select the type of tyre (MoGrip for Offroading OR Zapper for City sounds).
III. Select the biking elements' sounds that you wish to add.
IV. Compose everything.

Step 4: Share the track with your family and friends, and ask them to vote.

Step 5: Pray.

MRF NV series tyres are designed for high performance bikes with displacements 150cc and above. NV Series' Mogrip and Zapper are top of the line two-wheeler tubeless tyres engineered to perform more and for a wider range of motorbikes, off as well as on the road. 

Still reading this post? Head over to and start producing those foot-tapping numbers.  

#JodeyDilonKo Experiences During My Ladakh Trip

Today is 20th June, 2014; exactly a year ago, on 20th June, 2013; I reached Leh on my bike. As I'm writing this, I'm reminiscing about my ride and nostalgia has surrounding me with the memories of that 43 day journey - a journey of a lifetime, nonetheless. Here's how it happened.

They say, the biggest of ideas start with a thought, a side note on a post-it, a scribbled comment on a tissue paper, a funny suggestion to get around a serious problem or a curious intrusion. For me, it was neither of it. For me, it started with a tweet. The thought that I would want to visit Ladakhi wilderness, was planted with the below tweet in 2010 when I was contemplating the meaning of life while sitting at my filthy desk in my ugly office doing mundane work.

Initially it was just a tweet - a mindless jabber like all my other tweets. But then I started googling more about this elusive place, I started reading blogs, travelogues and "best season to go to Ladakh" articles. I spent next few weeks cursing my work and reading more and more about the Himalayan region. It was still 2010 and in few weeks, I had become a pro at answering Leh-related-FAQs like "what to wear", "where to stay", "what to see" and "how to go." And that too, sitting at same filthy desk in same fugly office doing the same mundane work. Soon, the dream became a desire which turned to passion and later an obsession. 

I spent the next three years, moving from once filthy desk to another and from one ugly office to another, doing a different type of mundane work; but the obsession stayed with me. Now it was a dormant volcano, calm from outside but heating up inside, waiting to explode and consume me. In the meantime, I saw the movie that defined me - 3 Idiots. The song "Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh" in the opening sequence and the visuals of Manali-Leh highway aggravated it even further. In the summer of 2013, the volcano finally erupted. I knew that I had to go to Leh. I mean it when I say that 'I actually heard a calling from Ladakh. It was some place I knew I absolutely had to visit.'

Finally, in the summer of 2013, I started preparing for it. I started asking friends to accompany me - and when I say friends, I mean, friends who're good riders, competent and people whom I can rely upon - this criteria significant shrunk the number of people I could go and ask. Ladakh commands an impression that everyone says "yes" initially; but later on everyone started pulling out citing reasons ranging from "Won't get leaves from office" to "A relative's ill, I need to be home" and everything in between. Unfazed, I decided to go on my open. The biggest obstacle in doing so wasn't going to be Himalayas, the biggest obstacle in going to Ladakh solo were my parents. I knew that they'd never allow me to go there alone; in fact, the very reason I wanted my friends to come is not because I wanted to company, NO, it asked them so that my parents would feel safe enough to permit me. But well, fate took its course and I had to convince my parents to let me go on my maiden voyage to Ladakh. Can't explain in words what it took for me to convince them but many days later, they finally agreed. Thence started the process of prepping for the trip. The longest riding trip I had done till that point was 1000 km. Mumbai - Ahmedabad - Mumbai; which pales in comparison to what I was going to attempt. Everything from riding jacket to toolset, from dual-weather tyres to altitude sickness tablets became a part of my shopping list. 

Day 1: Finally, on 9th June, I loaded my bike on the train and left for Delhi. I knew that I won't be case of IF anything goes wrong, it'll be more like, WHEN? And it didn't take too long for the anticipation to come through. In fact, I faced issues (with administration) even before I rode my first kilometer of the ride. The reason? Well, I had no bike to do that first kilometer. My bike had reached early morning, while I reached in the afternoon via another train to Delhi. I spent next two 2 hours, carrying more than 30 kilos of luggage, wearing a double-layered riding jacket in searing Delhi heat and running back & forth five times between the 16 (that's right - SIXTEEN) platforms of New Delhi Station, searching for my bike. 

Day 3: After spending two nights in Delhi, I set forth on my trip in search of the elusive heaven they called Leh. First stop: Ambala. Ambala was a total contrast to the Delhi. Instead of a hotel room, I stayed at a family friend's place. I met them for the first time, yet I was welcomed with opened arms and was treated like they've known me since childhood. It was truly a #JodeyDilonKo Moment in Ambala. But the icing on the cake was the night. I experienced something that I had never experienced before or since visiting Ambala - their house was just a few kilometers from the Ambala Cantonment and I was treated to the heavenly music of supersonic jets late in the night. As I rested my head on the pillow, I heard the sweet sound of the MIGs and Sukhois taking off from the nearby Ambala Air Force Base, as if singing sweet lullabies to me. 

Day 4: Early morning showers meant that I could start my ride only as early as 11 AM. Leaving the confines of a loved one's home - knowing that from then on, every night will be in an unknown city, in an unknown hotel, in an unknown bed - I set off towards Manali. Since I started my ride late, could only manage to reach the town of Mandi. It seemed like all the bikers in India had descended upon the small town. There was almost zero vacancy. I must've asked every single hotel, guest house and lodge; looking for a room, but no luck. My search finally ended when I was forced to stay in the last vacant room in the town, which also happened to be costliest. 

Day 5: Next morning, I was greeted by the Rain Gods. My entire 160 km. ride between Mandi and Manali was marred by rain. Cold, drenched and shivering; I finally reached the picturesque Manali. Learning from my past experience, I got whichever room I could find - big mistake. Crappy food, crappier service and rude owner meant that I had to relocate the very next day. The next hotel - Himlayan Country House was a total contrast. Great room, helpful owner and amazing location meant that I thoroughly enjoyed the next two days. Incidentally, I was the only Indian in the entire hotel. Except me, rest of the hotel was booked by a French group, who, just like me, were riding to Leh. 

Day 6: After sightseeing around Manali, I decided to have dinner at a nearby cafe. I was sitting at the bar, all alone, planning of the next day. I started chatting with a group on the next table and soon I learnt that they're also from Mumbai. I spent the rest of the evening with them on their table with great food and great conversations. Till then, I had only heard that people meet total strangers at pubs and become friends and have a great time, but for the first time, I experienced it first hand. My #JodeyDilonKo Moment in Manali.

Day 8: I started riding towards my destination on the infamous Manali - Leh road. My first hurdle: the infamous Rohtang Pass. Soon after starting the climb towards Rohtang, my bike - being a modest 150cc city commuter - started misfiring. Halfway between Manali and top, I stopped at what looked like a tiny settlement. I asked a soldier who was working on his army SUV to help, he said, "Give me any car, I'll fix it in 15 minutes but I know nothing about bikes. Either you go ride back 25 km. to Manali or go to Leh, there's nothing in between." I switched to plan C - rely on my grit. Offoaded the luggage, took out the spanners and the spare air filter and mended the bike. For this hardwork, I was rewarded by mother nature in the form of snow! That was the first time I had seen snow in my life. Cannot describe in words how gorgeous was that sight - almost like a scene straight out of a movie. 

In this mayhem, I met this biking group from Mumbai whom I told my issue with the bike and since I wasn't sure if I've mended the bike properly or not, they asked me to ride with them so that if anything goes wrong they can help me out. We rode together till the next town. Enroute, all of us even stopped by at a check naka to have maggi and a hot cuppa. That was my #JodeyDilonKo Moment of Rohtang Pass.

Riding through the breathtaking walls of ice and pulling my bike through ankle-deep mud, I finally ascended down and hit the valley. Soon I reached the famous Tandi petrol pump, which is famous for this sign. 

Armed with 11 litres of exrtra fuel and a fuel tank I reached Keylong. As it was getting dark, I decided to stop for the night. 
Day 9: Next morning, I headed towards Sarchu. While leaving from Keylong, I met another group of bikers from Thane. All of them were elder to me and theirs was a very well-planned trip. They had a support truck with a mechanic. Since I was alone, they insisted that I ride with them and if I ever needed any help, they'll be there with me. #JodeyDilonKo Moment of Keylong. Enroute Sarchu, I encountered the most beautiful mountain pass I've ever seen - Baralacha La Pass. Over there, as far as my eye could traverse, all I could see was a white blanket of snow. As the sun shines on the glistening white snow, the upper layer melts just enough to give it a silky texture, conspiring to tempt you to stay here forever. Despite the freezing conditions, I too wished to spend the rest of my life in that beautiful wilderness. The cloudless sky was dominated by the bright sun and exactly opposite to it was our very own moon. It seemed, Mother Nature had gathered up an "all stars" event at Baralacha La and I had the priviledge to witness of them - the Sun, the moon, the blue skies, crystal clear lake and the snow-capped mountains - in all their glory. 

After being mesmerized by Baralacha La's beauty, I asceneded to the valley and headed towards my destination for the day - Sarchu. Sarchu doesn't have a single mortar and brick structure, just a bunch of camps where travellers can sleep at night. There are mountains, open grasslands, a highway cutting through these grasslands and these temporary/seasonal camps on the grasslands. I took shelter in one of these for that night. Since it's in such a remote location, mobiles don't work. Suprisingly, DTH reception is crystal clear since that's satellite transmission and not cellular tower one. At this point of time, I should remind you that last year, thousands lost their lives in flash floods at Uttarakhand. I was travelling around the same time. At Sarchu, they had one television (and DTH) in their main dinning tent. There I saw the news of Uttarakhand disaster for the first time. Every night, I'd call my parents upon reaching the next town but here, I couldn't. Obviously, they started panicing.

I went to sleep hoping that I get mobile reception or I could find STD somewhere along the way. Correction: I tried to sleep. I have never experienced such cold atmosphere in my entire life; mind you, I'm someone who'd never complain about air-condition being too cold. I love winter, and yet, I barely slept a couple of hours that night, because it was that damn cold. Besides the two thick blankets that I was provided, I was wearing two thermal inners, a full sleeve tee and my double-layered biking jacket. Yet, the chill was too much to sleep peacefully. 

Day 10: In the morning, after my breakfast, I decided to head towards Leh. But there was a problem: the bike won't start. The overnight cold had frozen the engine. My bike doesn't have a kickstart. My only option: Drag the bike, run with it, shift it in first gear and jump start. After 10 minutes, I finally managed to get it started. Off I went! 

The hill where I had my worst fall of the ride.
Reaching to the top of Pang was really mind numbing. Roads seemed to take forever. I decided to take a short cut and go off-roading UPHILL. Bad idea! 3/4th way up the hill, the bike gave up and couldn't go up anymore. I applied brakes but since the surface was fine gravel, I started sliding backwards, downhill. Fall was inevitable. I slid with the bike half way down the hill. Thankfully, there was no injury except a bruised ego. I life the bike which was perpendicular to the slope, hence, I couldn't get my left down on the ground while my right feet was bent due to the degree to slope. I somehow managed to get the bike down and decided to continue on the normal (albeit, long and boring) road. But shockingly, I realized that the fall broke rear brake's foot rest. I tried the old duct-tape method to fix it but it didn't work. I tried my best to keep right foot in the air but obviously it kept falling on the brake, wearing out the rear drum. As I reached Pang, I met that same Thane biker group whom I had earlier met in Keylong and Sarchu. They had a mechanic with them who helped me fit the passengers footrest to the front. Had it not been for them, I might not have made it to Leh. It was the friendship that I developed with them the day before, that they helped me out.

Still no STD booth in sight, I carried on. Up through the mind-numbing Gata Loops, I reached Moorey Plains. This Virgin Land of Ladakh was miles and miles of vast expanse. Just open field and mountains in the distance and road in the middle of nowhere. For the first time in days, I was able to open the throttle and fly. But my joy was shortlived. If first 30 km. was heaven on tarmac, next 30 was road to hell. From three-digit speeds in first section, I came down to 20 kmph and even then I had a difficult time controlling the bike. I somehow managed the base of Taglang La Pass. But my trauma was just getting started. Tanglang La was undoubtedly one of the worst - if not the worst - passes during my entire trip. It was a hybrid of coal mine, cement factory and hell. Many many hours later, I finally reached the top of Taglang La and the following words welcomed me: "You're passing through the second highest pass of the world. Unbelievable isn't it?" Those words just made it all worthwhile. 

I ascended Taglanga La and reached the quaint little village called Rumtse. I stopped at the first STD booth that I could find and called up my parents to let them know I was safe. They heard my voice after two days and finally felt a sense of relief. Due to Uttarakhand floods, they had reached panic level 100. They were on the verge of sending a search and rescure party for me. Upon assuring my parents that I was totally safe and that I was just 100 km. from Leh I marched on. Rumtse, Upshi, Gaya - one after the other, I kept crossing these picturesque villages; riding next to rivers and passing through the gorges, I was getting ever so closer to the land I had promised myself of visiting. Soon, I came to a turn with a board that read, "First view of the Ladakh Valley." I stopped there for few seconds and marched on, ever so hungry and ever so eager to reach the elusive city. On day 10, at 6.30 PM arrived the moment I've been awaiting for so long. 

I made it!

I reached the hallowed land !!


I saw a number of bikers returning from Leh on that road; everyone would show a "thumbs up" sign or just wave. It's a part of "Unofficial Bikers Code." Leh is definitely the holy grail for all the bikers. Everyone going to or returning from knows how treacherous the journey is. The "thumbs up" is a gesture of respect and appreciation. Also, anytime you see a biker standing at the side of the road, you stop by to ask if he needs help. Because everyone knows that the nearest mechanic or petrol pump could well possibly be a couple of hundred kilometers away, hence, if a biking brother or sister breaks down, you always stop to help him/her. That's called the brotherhood. And riding to Ladakh certainly made me a part of it!

Day 11: On my first day in Leh, I decided to explore the monastaries around this beautiful city. I visited the famed Thiksey Monastery where I met one of the Lamas. He was a 26-year-old young boy - like any you'd find in the city - curious about the world. I clicked his pictures and promised to send it back to him. I even met one of the elderly Lamas who is the caretaker of the Protector Temple, which is considered to be a highly respected position at the monastery. While leaving, I met an Asian girl. After talking to her, I realized that she's not a tourist but a teacher at a school at the foothills of the monastery, and she's here from Singapore to teach the poor kids of the village. What a noble gesture! I congratulated her for what she's doing and asked her to keep up the good work. While leaving, I thought of grabbing a bowl of their local delicacy - Thukpa, at the monastery cafe. There, I was an older American lady interacting with the young 6-8 year old Lamas. After talking to her, I realized that she too is a teacher and she teaches English and Mathematics to the Lamas of the monastery. I truly felt humbled for what these people were doing for my countrymen. I took her card and promised to stay in touch with her. If this not a #JodeyDilonKo day in heaven, then I don't know what is?

Day 12: I started riding to one place that I wanted to see the most - the world famous Pangong Lake. At the Karu filling station, I met this couple from Delhi who looked confused. They had just landed to Leh and hired a bike to Pangong thinking it'll be an easy ride. I told them that we can ride together and helped them with gloves - an extra set of wollen gloves that I had with me. They had their camp accomodation booked in advance while I decided to spend the night at a homestay.

Enroute, we passed by World's Thrid Motorable Highest Pass - Chang La. There we met the world's cutest+friendliest dog - Shintu! He's army pet over there. He would play with all the tourists and eat whatever they'd feed him. When he's hungry, he'd come to you with the most adorable puppy face you can imagine; so much so that, you'd give him whatever food you have even if you were starving of hunger. #JodeyDilonKo moment with the cutest puppy ever!

 Pangong is truly on the most magical places you'll ever see in your life. The innumerable shades of gorgeous blue and torquoise that the Pangong waters exemplifies is simply breathtaking. Luckily, the evening that I reached there, it was just one day before the Full Moon Day, hence, the moon was nearly complete. The moon's reflection on the crystal blue waters of the lake was truly a sight to behold. 

After being lovestruck by the beauty of this astounding place, I finally decided to retire to my room post dinner. The homestay over there means four walls, a bed and a candle light. Since Pangong is in such a remote location, there are no petrol pumps and hence, one needs to carry their own fuel. For this same reason, petrol is the costliest thing in that wilderness. I had kept my petrol cans in my room. As I lie in that tiny room, I just realized one thing: a tiny room + 10 litres of fuel + petrol vapours everywhere + candle light = sure disaster. I got out of the cozy blanket and took the cans out of the room and put them in the corridor. I'd any day prefer being stranded without petrol and buying them at black market rates than being burned alive. Thankfully, nothing happened.

Day 13: Pangong's sunrise is one of the must-see things to do when in Ladakh. Despite a tiring ride the day before, I woke up at 4.50 AM (sun rises really early in Northern India), to catch this beautiful spectacle.  As the sun peaked from behind the mountains and as the first rays hit the calm waters announcing its arrival, I stood theere in awe of the brilliance of the conductor who has choreographed this moment in time. 

After breakfast, I bid my final goodbye to this place which had been the main protagonist of my day dreams for years. My new friends invited me for dinner at their hotel after we returned to Leh from Pangong.  Next day was their first anniversary; for that, I took printout of their photos that I had clicked the day before while doing to Pangong, and gifted them. I talk to them often and whenever they visit Mumbai, they visit me. That day was a #JodeyDilonKo moment in Pangong. Post dinner, when I returned to my hotel, I realized there was no electricity. I walked out to ask the caretaker for a candle, just then, I met an Isreali. Upon realizing that I was all alone he said in a heavy Isreali accent, "What are you doing alone? Come, join us in our room, we're having party." Apparently, I was the only Indian in that eight-room guest house. Rest of them were Isrealis. So there I was, in Leh, partying with eight Isrealis in the middle of the night. That day, the phrase that my friends often use, "You can't understand me or what? Am I talking in Hebrew?" actually came true. Most of the times they'd talk in Hebrew and then suddenly they'd realize I'm them so they'd get back to their broken English. But even then, it was a memorable night. #JodeyDilonKo moment with Isreali friends.

Day 14: I was supposed to ride to Nubra Valley but I decided to rest for one more day and check out the surrounding places. Again, I bumped in to one of the Isreali couples with whom I was partying the night before. We had breakfast together and I headed on to visit Shey Palace and the Druk Lotus School - famous for being "Racho's School" in the movie 3 Idiots.

Day 15: I started for Nubra Valley. To reach that, I'll have to eclipse my biggest hurdle yet - Khardung La Pass. At 18380 feet, Khardung La is World's Highest Motorable Road. It also happens to house the World's Highest Cafetaria. Surprisingly, there's a mobile tower at the top hence, you get mobile network. I called my parents and proudly said, "Guess where I am? I'm at 18,380 feet!!!" It's an altitude where aircrafts fly with pressurized cabin. I was there, braving the weather with just my bike, riding jacket and helmet. Earlier I was sceptical if I'd be able to handle the altitude but gladly, except for a mild headache for 10 minutes during the climb, I didn't feel anything. I descended Khardung La and reached the tiny village of Diskit where I spent the night. 

Day 16: After visiting the 16th century Diskit Monastery, 106 feet tall Maitreya Buddha Statue, the museum next to it and the bedroom where His Holiness Dalai Lama sleeps when he visits Diskit; I went to Hunder which is famous for housing a desert at over 10,000 above the sea level and being home to the exotic double-humped camel. I became friends with a Delhi group and spent night with them at a camp site. A German girl was also travelling with them, I exchanged email ids with all of them and decided to stay in touch after the trip too. #JodeyDilonKo moment in the desert of Hunder.

Day 17: I went 77 km. further to Hunder and went to Turtuk. This picturesque village is unique in itself. It was a part of Pakistan till 1971 and after the '72 war, India took over. While going to Turtuk, I was riding next to the Indus river. I stopped by at a bridge and took out my camera to click pictures. 100 meteres away, I saw an army jawan waving at me and asking me not to click. Being an obedient citizen, I kept the camera inside and started riding towards him half expecting to be yelled at. But instead, he addressed me as "Sir" and told me that, that bridge if very important from strategic point of view. It's one of the only links between the northern border in Turtuk and the military base in Leh. It's an enemy target and hence, for security reasons, it's not allowed to click. He even invited me inside his cabin for some snacks and tea. I politely decided, in the mean time, another soldier brought out a tray with a clean glass filled with Tropicana/Real orange juice. He said, "Sir, yahan pe pahadon mein aur toh zyada kuch nahi hai hamare pass. Garam pakode toh nahi milenge, lekin biscuits hai, aapko chahiye kya? " (Translation: Sir, in this wilderness, we don't have much. We don't have hot pakodas but f you want, we have some biscuits too. Would you like some?) Then he added, "Aur koi hamare layak seva ho toh bataiye?" (Do let us know, if we can serve you in any other way) I was floored at the respect with which they treated me. I told him, "You're already serving the country in the highest possible manner, that is, by putting your lives on the line and protecting us. I can't possibly ask for anything more from you." 

Dumbstruck by this experience, I moved on and reached Turtuk. I went 10 km. even further, as far as I can possibly go. They stopped me at a particular army checkpost. They told me that that was the furtherst I could go and civilians weren't allowed to go past that point. I didn't protest. But I started asking the army guy about the life over there and the border. He told me about how difficult it is to climb to certain check posts and other things which I can't share on a public forum like this one. He specifically said, "I shouldn't have told you some of these things but since you're a serious traveller and you've come from so far (Mumbai), and because I can't let you go any further, I thought of giving you some dough and tell you about interesting things to make you trip worthwhile in whatever little way I can." #JodeyDilonKo moment at the border.

While returning back, I stopped at the same checkpost where they had earlier offered juice to me. I stopped and without looking, I told the army guy, "I'm back!" Uh-oh! That was someone else. It wasn't the same guy. Their duty had changed. Apparently, this guy was even more talkative and friendlier than the pervious one. He too told me about his escapades of living on the border and certain incidents with shelling and gunfiring across the border on Diwali nights to disrupt the celebrations and bunch of other things. It almost seemed like a ritual at this check post, that they'd offer juice to the passerby. This guy again offered me juice from tetrapack. I told him that I already had juice few hours back, to which, like a brother he said, "But you rode all the way to Turtuk and came back. You must be tired. You still have many more miles to go before you reach Diskit. This juice will give you some energy." 

He asked me if I could recharge their mobile phone since I was going to the village - Diskit. I agreed. He was giving me money, I told him, "No sir, you treat me with so much of respect, I can't take money from you. Also, you're serving our nation by putting your life on the line, you're staying up so that we can sleep; there's no way I can take money from you. Our politicians eat away crores of our tax payers' money, as opposed to you guys - who're the real heroes of the country, don't get any credit. For once, I'm getting a chance to do something in a very small way. Let me. Just give me your number and tell me for how much amount you want me to recharge, I'll get it done." He gave up the argument and shared his number with me. #JodeyDilonKo moment at an Army check post.

As opposed to popular perception that riding in J&K is dangerous and bikers are harrased at every check point, this was completely opposite. Apparently, when they see people from other states, they're especially helpful towards them. Looking at my biking attire, my MH series bike and the way I spoke (like a person who's from the big city of Mumbai), they come to know that you're a harmless tourist and you're there because you love India and love travelling in India. Also, I noticed that when I told people that I'm from Mumbai, they (especially army and police) would treated me with a lot more respect; may be because, they realized that someone who travels from Mumbai all the way to the northern-most border, has to be a serious enthusiast; and looking at my protective gear also, they know that I respect traffic rules and hence, I'm not someone who'll create trouble.

I rode back to Diskit, thinking how lucky I have been to have had these humbling experiences. I truly felt that my purpose of BOMBAY TO LEH trip was met. These truly were "money-can't-buy-you experiences." You may pay lakhs and vacation in French Riveria in five-star luxury, but still, you'll never get to experience what I did. Simply because, I gave up my comfort zone, took my bike and went out to explore the world - not knowing what will follow.

While all these thoughts were brewing in my head - in the Nubra Valley where you could see miles and miles of open surrounding in front of you - I could see a brown wall coming towards me from a distance. If you've seen the movie "The Mummy," you'd be familiar with the way the sandstorm scene. That exactly how it looked like. It indeed was a sandstorm and I was going towards it head-on. With each passing moment, we were ever so closer and 10 minutes later, I braced myself for impact. I felt a wall of sand pushing me backwards. Visibility dropped to less 30 feet. I was riding in 4th gear, yet, my bike could only manage 50 kmph. Thankfully I was wearing riding jacket and gloves; hence, it didn't hurt me. Had it not been for the gloves, I'm sure, my knuckles would've been bruised by the sand particles. Half and hour later, the storm passed. 


Day 18: I stayed in Diskit for one more day and revisited the gorgoues Diskit Monastery.

Day 19: I rode back to Leh via Khardung La.

Day 20: Stok Palace is at a distance of about 10-12 km. from Leh. It's the current residence of the royalty of Ladakh. A part of it is converted in to museum. I was having snacks in the cafeteria of the museum after my tour. The cafeteria manager told me if I've ever tried Chung. I had no clue what that way. He told me that it's the homemade beer that the locals make it during festivals and wedding. Unlike Feni (desi alcohol of Goa), Chung is not sold openly in wineshops. I went in the village looking for it. I stopped by at a general store and ask the lady if she could tell me where I can get Chung. She took me to a house next door. At first, the owner, but then, I put my neck in the big wooden door and requested. They let me in and I started chatting with them. The shopkeeper left and I was there in my biking attire, standing in their porch. Theirs was a typical village house, where the goats and cows. Later, the head of the house - grandmother realized that I'm not a trouble-maker and instructed her daughter-in-law to get some Chung for me. She got a bucket which was filled with beer and poured it in a mug! At that time, all I could think of were the travel writers like Ian Brown and Anthony Bourdain, who'd walk in to a far flung village and eat with the villagers. #JodeyDilonKo moment in Stok.

Next morning I bid adieu to Ladakh and started my ride back, which took another 23 days to return.

Day 21:   I started my ride towards Kargil. I stopped at the petrol pump before leaving the city of Leh where I bumped into a couple of guys whom I had met at Khardungla Pass. There, when they had looked at my "MH" number plate, they were surprised and started asking me about my ride. Upon realizing that I'm doing this solo, they were mighty impressed. When they saw me at the petrol pump, they started chatting up about where I'm going; fortunately, they were also going to Kargil and they already had accommodation. They insisted that we go together and they even offered me to stay in the tent with them. 

Enroute Kargil, we visited Alchi and Lamayuru Monastries. At dusk, we finally reached Kargil. Evening was spent sharing stories and chatting up with my new friends till late in the night.

Day 26: After visiting Jammu and Srinagar, I headed towards Himachal Pradesh. One of the most incredible people-related experiences I had was in McLeod Gunj. The quaint little hill station situated 10 km. from Dharmshala is a hit with the foreigners. I've always preferred staying with non-Indians just to know about their culture and traditions. The guest house where I was staying, there, besides me, there was just 1 other India. In rest of the room, there was only foreigners. It was one of those cozy guest houses run by a family. And the best part was that all the guests would keep their room open and would always greet you with smile when you walked by. On the very first day, I became friends with more than half a dozen of them and for my entire duration of the stay - 4 days, we would have dinner, go on hikes, party, listen to music and just chill in eachother's rooms. Over the period of time, I became friends with more and more foreigners from different countries.

There's a cafe in McLeod Ganj known as Munchies. Every night, some Spanish musicians would jam their and rest of the crowd would just listen. The centre of the cafe has on-the-floor seating where about 30 people would fit in. On one evening, I calculated the number of nationalities over there, and I could count atleast 10 confirmed nationalities (because I knew those 10 people belonging to different countries); this included Indian, Russian, Spanish, Guatemalan, American, Romanian, Iraqi, Israeli, German and French. Out of those 30 odd people having a gala time at the cafe, I was the only Indian. That evening was truly a #JodeinDilonKo type of moment. And the best part is that I'm still in touch with many of them via email and social media.

At the end of my BOMBAY TO LEH bike trip, I ticked off the following off my bucket list:
Go to Ladakh. 
Go to Ladakh on bike. 
Ride from Delhi to Mumbai / Mumbai to Delhi. 
Ride the bike in mist. 
Ride the bike in snowfall. 
Ride the bike in sandstorm. 
Ride the bike uphill while it's off, powered only by the Magnetic Hill. 
Watch Sunrise at Pangong Lake. 
Conquer world's 3 highest passes - Khardung La, Taglang La & Chang La. 
Become friends with strangers. 
Go on a vacation without knowing when I'll return.
Meet travelers from different countries and know their story. 
Chat with an Indian soldier at a remote army post in the mountains and know his story. 
Click an unknown kid on the streets. 
Chat with a Buddhist monk, know his story, take his address and send him back his printed photos. 
Knock on an unknown door in a village and ask them if you can have their homegrown beer. 
Stay on a houseboat. 
Stay in a palace hotel. 
Travel to the "middle of nowhere" and hear the sound of silence.  

Yes, it's true that I went to Ladakh alone but I came back with dozens of new friends and innumerable #JodeyDilonKo experiences. Meeting a family friend for the first time and feeling totally at home, experiencing great hospitality courtesy of army jawans stationed in the middle of nowhere, riding with biking groups in Himalayas who're from Mumbai, sharing tents with then-totally-stranger-now-friends from Delhi, riding to Pangong lake with a newly-married couple and gifting them photos on their first anniversary, meeting Shintu - the super cute dog, clicking a toddler in the middle of the street and noting down the address from the family and sending them photos, knocking on a villagers' door and drinking their homegrown beer with their family, partying in  dark room with 8 Israelis in event of power cut and learning a new cards game,  being friends with more than a dozen foreigners at McLeodGanj, having Indian food with couple of foreigners and explaining them the concept of finger bowl, having lunch with an Israel and an Iraqi and discussing Middle East in a peaceful manner, discussing bikes and cars with the owner of heritage hotel who happens to be a prince of a Rajasthani town and seeing his car and bike collection; all of these and many more were #JodeyDilonKo experiences that I will never ever forget!

To enjoy more of these #JodeyDilonKo experiences, do watch

Festival preparations: Why we do it?

Humans have celebrated festivals since time immemorial. Festivals are the most important as well as the most basic form of celebration. From the earliest humans of 10,000 BC to the mobile-phone-slave of today's era, festivals have always been an intricate part of our species. Festivals define us, our identity and our civilization. Festivals tell the world "who we are" and what "we're capable of!"

In addition to culture and celebrations, festivals have also been used to signify power and strength. In Spain, encierro OR Running of the Bulls - a practice that involves running in front of a group of bulls is observed on the seventh day of Sanfermines festival. Many African tribes tattoo themselves or go hunting during special festive days, to show their physical prowess.

Festivals are also a reason for all the ecstasy and fun. In fact, it is this happiness that makes us want to sweat a bit more in planning for the festivities so that we can enjoy them on the big day. Imagine how much planning it would go in organizing the La Tomatina Festival. Can you think of the logistical nightmare that organizers of Oktoberfest go through before the beer-chugging kicks off?

Samba dancers starts their choreography for the Rio Carnival, months in advanced; and an elaborate and detailed groudnwork goes in to prepare for the Chinese New Year. 

Not just that, even in India, the sculptors start working on Ganpati and Durga idols months in advance, before Ganeshotsav and Durga Puja. We start polishing our kite flying skills from as early as December, before the Makar Sankranti arrives on 14th January. And who can forget being dragged in the Diwali cleaning work by our mothers when all we wanted to do was play with our friends during 3 week Diwali vacation!

Irrespective to where you live, which religion you follow and what customs you observe; one common festive activity binds us all is the preparation! Everyone wants to celebrate their festival in the best possible way and hence, we work tirelessly to make sure the big day is celebrated in the most spectacular fashion.

Irrespective of how exhausting and hectic it gets, in the end, when it all comes together and you see your loved ones appreciating your efforts and enjoying the festivites that YOU planned, it all pays off!

It's notable that while we make sure everything is aesthetically pleasing during the festivals, we often overlook the sense of smell. But now, there's a fairly easy way to do it. Just one "swish" of Aer and your guests will smell the festivities even before they see it. Have you tried it yet?

How do we associate fragrances with festivals?

What is Nostalgia? The feeling you get when you see, hear, smell or feel something that makes you realize that you've already seen, heard, smelt or felt something similar.

By this definition, fragrances are integral to your memories. They hold the DNA of the very memory that's preserved in your mind. When we encounter a familiar scent, it acts as a catalyst; the brain goes in overdrive and starts opening file cabinets associated with that scent. Thus triggering a backlog of emotions in the head, which is too large to process on time. The result: half-awake, half-asleep sense of nostalgia where the person loses his sense of time. This nostalgia might last a micro second, a minute, an hour or even a month. 

Nostalgia is like a drug, it makes you do the things that you can no longer do and go to the places that no longer exist. But it's not necessarily as bad as it may sound. And just like every drug, this one also make its user (all of us) addicted.

Now, what if I told you that you experience nostalgia on a daily basis without even realizing it? There are so many smells around you, that reminds you of life's biggest and most joyous moments.

The most joyous moments in anyone's life are festivals. That's because weddings and births happen just once in a while but in our culture-rich country the festivals a lot more often. Each festival has a unique flavour - an peculiar aroma, attached to it. 

Imagine! You're walking by a shop and you smell the unique scent of a brand new piece of clothing; and it instantly reminds you of Durga Puja and when bought a new saree.

Imagine! You stop by at a dhaba along the side of the higway and truck driver next table orders thandai and you're instantly transformed back in time when your uncle prepared bhang for your and your friends during Holi.

Imagine! A baarat is dancing on the streets hampering the flow of traffic. Your car crawls next to the dancers who couldn't be less bothered by who's watching them; suddenly, the traffic comes to a screeching halt because someone decides to fire a series of 5000 minibombs in the middle of the road. The smell of the burnt gunpowder throws you back in time when you were 9 and couldn't hold your excitement knowing that the evening before your Diwali vacation, your dad were going to bring firecrackers for you.

But now, you don't have to pass through a crowded market place, eat at a dhaba or get stuck in a traffic jam to relive your memories. Whether you're at home or in the car, the gorgeous scents that keep you happy and can be with you, by your side, always. And this has been possible thanks to the brainy people behind the Godrej Aer. Check out their entire range of fragrances and see which one throws you back in time. 

So, what's your drug, again!

Indian Festivals and Scents

There's no denying that Indian festivals are a visual delight. The grandeur, elegance and pride that every festival brings with it is inimitable. From the glittering night sky of Diwali to the colourful skies of Makar Sankranti and from zealous anticipation of Santa on Christmas to the auspicious moon sighting on Eid; these unmistakable sights and sounds have been hardwired in our brains. However, there is one more important aspect of our festivals that we often disregard, that is, the sense of smell. 

Close your eyes and try to imagine what you'd smell when you celebrate various festivals.

Makar Sankranti: It's the 3rd week of January and the Winter is in its full bloom. The morning mist accentuating the sweet fragrance of tulips as you get ready to hold battles in the sky  with your sharper-than-a-ninja-sword maanja. The chemicals in the thread, and the mild sense of glue on the kites rushes you with that extra dose of adrenaline to 'seize the day.' Contrasting sweet smells of apples and sugarcane gets you through the day as you celebrate the triumph with the best of winter vegetables whose flavoursome smell has meddled the air.

Holi: It's quite easy to overlook the sense of smell when you're surrounded with the entire array of rainbow spectrum. But try to remember what you smelt in that split second when someone poured a bucket of water over your head and you closed your eyes. You smelt colour. You didn't just feel the texture of powder and water being applied on your skin, you also sensed it with your nose. That day, while immersing yourself in the festive spirit by having the famed bhaang, you first smelt it before you even saw it.

Ramzaan: Ramzaan doesn't follow the weather pattern and seasons, however, the sense of smell is the strongest during this holy month since fasting and feasting are two sides of this holy coin. Take a walk outside a mosque after the evening prayers and you'll smell the best kababs, nalli niharis & seviyans. Chances are, you'll get a whiff of a delicacy even before you'd see it. 

Diwali: The festival of lights is a treat for the eyes. But even in all this, the aroma sits behind the optics, quietly, helping it in enjoying the festive spirit even without letting it know. The unmistakable smell of the burning ghee in diyas, the saliva-inducing aroma of mithais and the familiar smell of fireworks all tells your brain that you're taken over by the Diwali spirit.

Each year we strive harder to celebrate our festivals in the best possible way. We do it by buying new clothes, renovating our houses, buying gifts, eating delicious food and doing a host of other things. What if I told you, you can enjoy the festive spirit year round? Yes. Godrej has brought you Aer to keep you rejuvenated and spirited irrespective of the time of the year. Not only that, they also add to your festivities with those mystifying scents. 

Indian festivals are not just rich in culture and traditions; they're an attack on your sensory organs, but in a good way! They're a visual treat, a musical delight and an aromatic exuberance. Let's celebrate them with Godrej Aer!!