This is Leh

Posted on 22/12/2015 By


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

This is Leh and a project with Snow Leopard Conservancy brought me to this heaven on earth. No words are enough to describe the ethereal beauty of these mountains. Excerpts from my Leh Ladakh Diary; my discovery of life on the road…


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

3rd Dec 2015: Life on the road is always fascinating. At least from far from reality; you think it’s so cool and awesome. But when you are out on the road not sure of your next destination, not understanding the local language, you feel entirely different. You start appreciating little things in life. Like getting a warm bottle of water or getting to speak in your mother tongue. Even spotting a number plate of a car from your native place!


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

Suddenly, you find a new respect for people doing things differently, especially those who fight the odds to follow their passion. It’s not easy. Not at the very least. And at these moments you find that inner belief, making you tussle it out.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

Here’s my toast to life on the road.

5th Dec 2015: Here in Yangthang, people eat a lot, especially if a guest arrives. As a guest, I was served with evening sweet tea, then salty butter tea, many servings. Just like the Chinese, people in Ladakh love their tea.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

The moment I was finished with tea they served barley beer. I am not someone who is able to refuse, so I took a sip. Aargh! It was sharp. Immediately after the beer, I was served some kind of brown bread with soup. Just as I was about to finish up that bread aunty came up with Ladakhi roti. I would’ve cried if I weren’t a guest. Please, let me and my stomach take a rest.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

Meanwhile Mr. Jigmey, owner of the house, thrilled me with his childhood stories. “I flattened a mountain to make a proper hut there.” The mountain man of Yangthang.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

Suddenly came a sharp voice,” Dinner is ready.” Oh dear God!

7th Dec 2015: It’s a cloudy morning in Leh. The sun seems to be struggling to come out of the shadows of those misty clouds. A constant tussle between sun and cloud, much like the life. Everything around us seems to be inspired by life, or the opposite for that sake.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

A black cow is carelessly strolling down the street. There are these dogs staring at that cow, ready to bark but didn’t or couldn’t. Strange. Two little children waiting for their school bus to come. They seem visibly outraged to have been woken up early in this freezing cold. It drops down to -20 degree Celsius at night and at -5 degree during the days.

A thunderous helicopter tears through the silent surrounding. A visible red on its tail. A tiny dot with a magnanimous sound. Much like us. We could make a dent in the universe’s scheme of things if we are daring enough to fly that high.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

This ensconced place in the midst of these high mountains has an eerie feel to it. There seems to be very little human activity. The mornings are silent, very much unlike the start of a new life.

20th Dec 2015: “Life is simple here. We wake up, drink some butter-tea, and meet our friends. We offer breakfast and some tea, again. There is no animosity. We all share a laugh or two during lunch.


Picture: Global Fashion Street / Neel Kamal Pandey / Dec.2015

Milking cows takes most of the time in evening. We play some cards afterwards. We tease some of our friends; its good fun, no? By the time we finish with cards dinner gets ready. We eat with our cats. It’s cold out there and so, we make our cats sleep in a little blanket beside the fire.

You should stay here for sometime more. There is no mobile signal, no one will bother you. We all will take you to high mountains. There are white cats up there. They are magnificent,” this what my Ladakhi friend tells me.

Yes, ‘no mobile signal’ and no one will bother me. Until, next time then, my friend, adios!

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Neel Kamal Pandey

Neel Kamal Pandey is a chemist turned photojournalist and believes that traveling can change the world. Could be found with hitchhiking in the Himalayas with his camera to accompanying him.

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