Every year we take a rest day in Sarchu and since 2011 have taken the hour and half long walk to the remote village of Chumigiarsa. I love returning as I have got to know some of the wonderful people who live in this very extreme environment. I can only at marvel at their resilience and ability to survive in these really harsh conditions. This year I was particularly looking forward to seeing Padme who I have known for all, of her 3 years and Dom Dom, probably the oldest man in the village. I could tell from a distance that this was little Padme and her mom in the fields.
Humbled with a cup of cardamom tea so generously offered with biscuits from Tenzin's spartan kitchen, we continued to the end of the village in search of Dom Dom .We followed the soothing irrigation channels in an otherwise harsh desert and took time to appreciate the purpose and place that everything has in this village.
Dom Dom and Mutup in 2012. Dom Dom had gone, he had died about 1mth before. I was taken by surprise and saddened at the thought that he was no more. What had happened? I later found out he had been taken to hospital in Leh for some months and then returned to Chumigiarsa and died a week later. I felt relieved that he had at least died in his home but shuddered to think of how such a gentle and earth-bound man had handled the foreigness of being in a hospital so far of away of anything he knew. While I felt sad, his friends reminded me that in Buddhism death isn't as harsh a place at we make it seem. He had been reborn into another life most certainly.
My final visit was to find Tenzin (11) and Renzin (9), two brothers who lived with their Ama in the truck stop of Sarcchu. Tenzin and his Ama, Tsering Tsemo were fortunately there. Renzin was at school 1 day bus ride away in Manali. And poor Tenzin was 'house bound' due to a recent op on his lame leg which had been reset in plaster. All I had for him were some EnviroKids magazines, which was at least some entertainment for a few hours. His face : shear delight. A humbling sight for all the spoiled and indulged of this world.
Goodbye sweet Padme, I hope to see you again ...
For previous entries of this village and their ingenious sustainable practices as well as to see how Padme has grown see: