Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Woke up early - still no juice for my camera charger - packed and had breakfast : mint tea, dahi & chapatis and went up to the prayer wheel to wait for the bus. The clang of the two pryer wheels coming tighter as more passengers gathered.
Bus arrives : up on the roof with the pack and makes it on the bus with several cubic centimeters to spare. Drop off at the Panamik roadbend since the bus doesnt go further east . Run up to a waiting army truck : Khalsar ? A sea of smiling faces pulls up my pack , camera bag and staff .. and explodes with laughter and screams as the truck drives away just as I'm about to climb up. Short run and new climb.
Long , boring but somehow fun waiting in Khalsar ( " an unpleasant hamlet , dominated by a military garrison") playing a mutual look at the other game until I finally get a lift in miltary truck riding in a convoy. In front , big panoramic windscreen as we ride a high strech , paarlell to the river.
Long days trek in quiet solitude, partly trail , partly road.
Then the uncomparable racket of the back seat of a - not sucessfully - patchwelded military truck , together with a grinning Ladakhi, looking a lot like Plupp. He keeps patting his houlder and grinning and pointing to me , till I get the point : he gets by with a simple shoulder bag. He then proceeds to pat, point and and taking inventory of my pack : tent ? stove ? sleeping bag ?
In the end I leave the truck to trek the desert , scarred by the the asphalt pit of the projected road. Eventually thes also peter out , I walk for anothe two hours until I see a green wedge appearing (reming me of that poetic swedish 18th century word * for a flowery patch beside a stream.
On arriving I do my one third-of-each (ladakhi , english & pantomine) "long walk , looking for good water and good spot for my tent" routine - and gets shown to the local yak/cow grazing field. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but the water looks good and I find a somewhat sheltered place for my tent.
Later with the tent pitched and the Trangia chuff-chuffing another Ladakhi appears. I start talking about the contents of mmy pot (ngamphe, jos, chuli, dried apples) when he says : come and sleep in the house.
Second time I reurn from my tent site I have the Trangia with me , freshly made Ladakhi herbal tea and can for once reverse the situation : "don, don !" and they accept and seem to like it.
after this - of course - butter tea, games of jumping up and down in the knee with the toddler , a sueaky transistor in the window doling out Ladakhi folk songs. Butterlamps, portraits of Dalai Lama. I manage to get across the story of the the Tibetan monks at Moderna Museet who made a huge sand mandala.. and the horror ofthe invited Swedes as Dalia Lama smilingly inspects it - and sweeps everything in to a bucket to pour it out into the local bay. Everyone laughs.
Nightr approaches and I am shown in to the .. fine room : carpets around the wall , handpainted chogtse tables, election poster with Sonia Gandhi. I fret over which place is polite to accept .. until it dawns on me that no one will join me . Brief momen of panic and shame : are they sleeping out because I arrived ? But no bedding has been moved , evidently they sleep on the roof until (real) winter arrives. The lessons of earlier , pre-chimney times : it's not healthy to spend too much time inside.
Finally , for once I can strech out.

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