Posted by Fenil Seta
Kusumita Das (MID-DAY; June 25, 2017)
It's not easy for two Mumbai dudes to set off to a land of no network and very little oxygen, drive nearly 1,000 kilometres, sometimes on no roads and manage to not miss the city they left behind. The 10 days that Cyrus Sahukar and Kunal Kapoor spent in the mountains for their travel show, Great Escape with Kunal and Cyrus, had them driving from Dharamshala to Spiti Valley, and catching up more than they have in the 18 years of their friendship. Yet, they admit that on occasion, the adventure was more than they gambled for — like the time they were stranded for two hours, staring at boulders falling from the mountains.
Sahukar says this photo was taken as he entered the Key Monastery on the last day of the trip. "We were lucky since we got to visit their kitchen and even have lunch served by the monks. Especially memorable were the chants."
“When you come back and tell people, you drove on no roads, they think you are trying to be dramatic,” Sahukar says. “I feel places like Leh-Ladakh, which are remote, are still easier to get information about, but Spiti is not one of those places. There is no airport there. It’s a very tough terrain. You need to get out there and make it happen. Throughout our time there, I felt like we were in Mad Max Fury Road.”
This was a small pottery village in Spiti, called Andretta, where Sahukar and Kapoor ran into Dennis Harp, the art director of Michael Jackson's Thriller. "He just decided to slow it down and move to the mountains in India. I also tried my hand at pottery — I made a vase that I am now obsessed with. It is ugly but it's mine," says Sahukar.
While Kapoor did the driving, Sahukar “was changing tyres, cleaning stuff and navigating”. One of the highpoints of the trip, quite literally for him, was jumping off a mountain in Bir Biling, the second highest paragliding spot in the world. It was his first time. That out of the way, he did not even hesitate to try out the basket cable, a popular mode of commute among locals, between one mountain top to another. “You sit in a small basket attached to a cable, and are manually pulled by a person on the other side. I pulled myself, because Kunal lost interest after a point. I was swinging between two mountains,” Sahukar chuckles, adding that the mountains have made a “philosopher” out of him. “Two days more, and I would have been levitating.”
"It was my first time and I am not even your regular adventure-sports guy. I am more of a let's-hike-to-a-stream-and-camp person. This guy kept talking about heads splattering on walls during paragliding. It was literally a leap of faith from Bir Biling," says Sahukar.
There were moments when Kapoor and he would split up and do their own thing, just to get two perspectives on the same place. “I think we all have this childlike quality of quiet exploration and it could be just a walk, staring at cows grazing. It sounds lame, but I was truly enjoying my company after a long time. And, having no network is a blessing — I had long conversations with myself,” he laughs.
This selfie was taken after playing hide-n-seek with children at Nako village
“It was my first time and I am not even your regular adventure-sports guy. I am more of a let’s-hike-to-a-stream-and-camp person. This guy kept talking about heads splattering on walls during paragliding. It was literally a leap of faith from Bir Biling,” says Sahukar.
At Teerthan Valley, the two gave fly fishing a go. "We sat by the river trying to catch fish. We didn't succeed, but I caught a fly," says Sahukar