Living in the Lap of the Himalayas

March 02, 2017

Notes from a visit in 2016.

This village is roughly 200 km away from the nearest airport.

The Indus has created a gorge for itself over the centuries with two steep mountain ranges on either side.

The road travels parallel to the river sometimes close to the river sometimes at a height of at least 20 floors from it.

The road is narrow and is hugged by the upward steep wall of jagged raw mountain on one side and the river gorge on the other.

We reach a point where the road level is at about the half the height of the whole mountain.

There, perched between the road and the peak is this little plateau-ish space on which people have settled. In this hamlet, there are about 5-6 houses, each house sitting on about an acre of land.

That is our destination.

We park the car in a clearing. And climb up the steep slope – me  clumsily on all fours – and the villagers upright with the agility of mountain goats.

My friend, an old villager tells me matter-of-factly that I need to lose weight.  I love the freshness of his approach –  there is none of the urban sugar-coating.

Life is simple. People say what they mean and mean what they say. Is any other way even necessary?

And we arrive at the house in the clearing:

The narrow feisty river runs in between the mountains and the trees – the blue line in the photo below indicates the point.  The river is at a much lower  height so without a drone it is not possible to capture it on camera.

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The amazing thing about real mountains is that they ranges are not neatly arranged. We can see a whole new gorge perpendicular the flow of the river!  These can join in from all random angles!!

Would Monica Geller (or I)  have arranged them this haphazardly?

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And a view from a much higher vantage point  (a photo taken in 2013) that offers a complete context:

dard-aryan-family-ladakh-14

Now to the garden…

Click to view slideshow.

The family grows its own vegetables and fruit. The consumption-production cycle for many items remains within the people they know. Every day is a busy day. Storage and stocking up for winters consumes energy and thinking to an extent that I have not experienced elsewhere. Conditions are harsh and manpower is limited. And yet they live this absolutely completely organic life. There is no hurry or need for higher yields or efficiency or speed. When the need is greater than the family’s reach, the collective called the Pha-spun helps out with contribution of effort – what we call shram-daan in sanskrit.

Life rolls on – slowly steadily as per the old ways.

***

And then to make momos for dinner

Click to view slideshow.

I have heard a friend say that although he has lived in many places in the world – Montreal is the city he would like to spend his last days in.

To me – it might just be some remote village in the Himalayas.

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A typical house in the neighborhood

jm

Feb 2017

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