Ever since we have been in Ladakh there was a strong desire to explore this area beyond a mere visitor. There was a strong urge to travel and explore this area on bike to visit and meet the family and people to understand their living and culture. Such a remote area with mostly 4-5 months of tourism, how do people manage their survival in these tough conditions?
During our Ladakh exploration, we made conscious effort to stay with a family to understand things which are not easily seen by tourist. Our one such attempt was in Karzok village near Tso Moiriri (Tso means lake). Most of the accommodation there were in tents, but we went into the village to find a homestay. We were lucky to get one place where the owner was ready to make a temporary arrangement for us in a hall cum kitchen of his hut. One of the disadvantage of such homestay is lack of facilities but there is no short of hospitality.
There was no arrangement for dinner so the owner asked us to go outside. We politely enquire about their arrangement for food and they said they eat at home but does not provide the service to the guests. Generally when it comes to food, people prefer the menu and options of delicacies. We were on different track. We had no hesitation in eating their home food so we asked (with hope) if we can accompany them. The owner was nervous but we did make him comfortable and he finally he was ready to serve us. We made him sit with us for dinner (which he was not comfortable initially) and had a good interaction. He explained us about the situation in the village, the tent business and tourism. The life is not easy to say the least but there is no complaint as well. We had a good sound sleep in that homely environment.
Next day morning he offered us tea as we were ready to leave. As we were sipping on the tea, we noticed few photographs of young & quite handsome guys. When asked with curiosity he told us that those were his children. We were puzzled for a moment; since we were now aware of their hardships, it was difficult for us to imagine them living alone in that hut after having three young boys. Strange things of big city flashed in front of us as we thought, situation is same everywhere. But we felt very belittle with our thinking.
A moment later he explained “My eldest son is lama, he serves people. My second son is in Indian Army he serves Nation. And my youngest son is a driver (tourist vehicle) and he takes care of us.”
The owner of the hut, Padma Dorje, an illiterate poor person from a remotest part of nation made us speechless. The happiness is not in richness, it lies in satisfaction. People like him are the living idol of India, paragon of a family life.
Note: These are excerpt from the experience of Anusandha Adventures team from Ladakh Exploration. Check Leh Ladakh Exploration for complete video.