Starting from Kargil, we were on the way to Drass as we stopped in front of the board reading ‘Refreshments’. It was just a temporary set up to provide snacks and refreshments. The idea was to have a cup of tea. Since we left Kargil late due to some technical fault in the bike, we badly needed it. It was a beautiful place near the army post, just 10 km from Kargil at the confluence of two rivers, Drass (originating somewhere in Zozila pass) and Suru (originating somewhere in Zanskar).
We were relaxing after giving order for tea and Momos (delicious food in that part). We saw two army men came to fetch the water from the hand pump in front of the setup. We immediately saw the shoulder strips for unit name (after 10 days of wandering in Ladakh, we were used to it) and saw ‘Maratha Lite Infantry’. It was another chance to interact with the army, that too from local area. They were from Maharashtra; from Pune and Nagpur. The discussion started about Pune, Nagpur, Ladakh, Kargil, environment, Pakistan, firing in those parts, soldiers, posts and many more topics. Momos were followed by Samosas and discussion continued. They even paid our bills. When we force the shop owner to take the bill form us, he said he cannot ignore their orders. Poor owner was helpless to reject the army payment. In a way we were honored by the hospitality of the army.
Then the last words of the soldier stole the heart. The topic was about the leaves after the Ganpati.
“It would have been nice feeling to get the leaves during festival”, I asked with some hesitation
“Yes, we were thinking on those lines. But if we all start to think of our own leaves, then who will fight for the country”.
He made that statement so casually that it left me startled. That statement penetrated the nervous system. There was nothing to say; rather I didn’t have the courage to say anything.
Later when we visited the Kargil war memorial in Drass, I read the following lines
‘If there is a hell than this must be it. It is -40 deg C, the wind cuts the soldier’s face, the lungs scream for oxygen, the cold numbs the mind, eggs turns to golf balls, guns jam. What a way to fight a war …’
Salute to Indian Army.
For obvious reasons, we cannot post the pictures of the soldiers or the location. The picture shows the confluence of river Drass and Suru which after flows through Post 43 and 44 in the PoK before merging to the Indus.
Note: These are excerpt from the experience of Anusandha Adventures team from Ladakh Exploration. Check Leh Ladakh Exploration for complete video.