Do you remember the first travel advice you ever received? I do and I do it profoundly.
It was around mid-2013, a couple of months after I bid goodbye to my engineering dreams midway and had no clue what I was going to do with it. For a month, I tried working at HPCL, Kochi and then moved to Goa for sometimes, only to realize that rains of western ghats are too much for me. I needed a new place, a new refuge — a place to hide and get exposed to myself. To satisfy that itch of anonymity, Ladakh was the only place which I felt, I would feel at home. Oh, Ladakh!
Knowing nothing about mountains and Ladakh in particular, I had seldom acquaintances with stories of Major Shaitan Singh and Siachen Glacier (I had no clue or no interest about where 3 Idiots was shot). I was very adamant about only reaching Ladakh and of course, with the kind of resources I was left with, hitchhiking it all the way to Ladakh was not just the only option but also an adrenaline push for me. This is when, during the information scavenging days (pre wanderlust travel scene of Ladakh), I came across BCMTouring.com — a website which became the guiding force behind something that went on to define who I could become today.
I spent days reading all of it about Ladakh on the website. On a thread started on August 25, 2011, there is this map of Ladakh region. That map was my first on-ground understanding of Ladakh and it also shaped my take on traveling to places out of my comfort zone. I downloaded the map and set out for Manali. The journey which started that day is yet to be completed. I hitchhiked to and in Ladakh for almost three months and came back only when people told me that the passes were going to be closed soon. It was only justified to dig out the one who was running this show and I ended up sending a friend request to the founder — Yogesh Sarkar. Yogesh called Ladakh his home and knew it alike.
I am sure it is not just me, there are many more out there who could get out of their comfort zones just because of Yogesh and his passion. And you know what, passion is very contagious, it never abandons you. For me, Yogesh Sarkar became much more than BCMTouring and the travels and trips. I never had the opportunity to meet him personally and share my gratitude for what he had created but I have always felt like knowing him up close — as fellow humans who would stand up for each other even without being there physically. Not just because he was among the pioneers or for his blogs but because of this mutual longing and love for the Himalaya and the idea of exploring around to enable and empower generations who connect on similar grounds, I had always felt this connection.
Yogesh breathed last in Merak (a village near Pangong Tso) on his tenth trip to Ladakh. Although there is this deep void that is lurking around, I can only hope he had wished his last breaths in the mountains and that he had his wish fulfilled before he left for the eternal journey.
Yogesh Bhai, Thank You!
I will not miss you or meeting you in person!
You have always been there, you will always be there!