Remembering old friends of Chumigiarsa village

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 isolated village. 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 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.
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.
I always take photos from the year before and this time also a new dress for Padme.
I always bring photographs that I have taken from the year before and this time, also a new dress for Padme.
Dorjay and his Ama in 2012
Dorjay and his Ama in 2012
And Padme in her new dress.
And Padme in her new dress.
Dorjay and Padme's meme-le (grandad)
Dorjay and Padme’s meme-le (grandad)
Padme with her Ama, Tenzin who I first met in 2011 see https://www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za/himalayan-villages-chumikgiarsa-at-4000m/
Padme with her Ama, Tenzin who I first met in 2011,  see: https://www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za/himalayan-villages-chumikgiarsa-at-4000m/
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 had in  this village.
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.
Yak and cow dung collected and dried for the very long and freezing winters, minus 20 to 40 degrees are not uncommon.
Yak and cow dung collected and dried for the very long and freezing winters, minus 20 to 30 degrees are not uncommon.
Dom Dom would usually be in the fields too. I spotted some figures that could be his.
I spotted some figures (and a yak!). Dom Dom would usually be in the fields too….
Working together, everyone is involved in the barley harvest. I recognise Dom Dom's friend from last year.
Working together, everyone is involved in the barley harvest. I recognise Dom Dom’s friend from last year.
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 his village and a week later had died.  I felt relieved that he had at least been in his village and 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.
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.
Remembering  Dom  Dom Namgyal in 2011 - my favourite photo. Although we had very little conversation he was clearly a humerous and delightful soul!
Remembering Dom Dom Namgyal in 2011 – my favourite photo, with Caroline. Although we had very little conversation he was always a humourous and delightful soul!
Dom Dom's friend Tsering Mutup and his wife Tsering Diskit.
Dom Dom’s friend, Tsering Mutup and his wife Tsering Diskit.
A family photo for another return trip one day: Mutup, Diskit and son, Stanzin.
A family photo for another return trip one day: Mutup, Diskit and son, Stanzin.
My final visit was to find Tenzin and Renzin, 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. Poor little 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 was shows shear delight. A humbling sight for all the spoiled and indulged.
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.
Tsering and Tenzin outside their truckstop cafe 'K2' in 2012.
Tsering and Tenzin outside their truckstop cafe ‘K2’ in 2012.
Goodbye sweet Padme, I hope to see you again ...
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:

https://www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za/meeting-old-and-new-friends-on-manali-leh-highway/

https://www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za/himalayan-villages-chumikgiarsa-at-4000m/

Bridget Ringdahl

Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.

I live in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal which is great cycling country, within 10 minutes I can be bouncing along some of the finest single tracks in the province.

Latest posts by Bridget Ringdahl (see all)

6 thoughts on “Remembering old friends of Chumigiarsa village
  • Once again awesome photographs! It is so wonderful, I cannot believe it - thank you! Whenever I open you blog, there is only one great wish that comes to my mind...

  • Anisa Khan

    beautiful and touching, the humanity that binds us all. I wonder what it must feel like when "foreigners" visit Ladakh? I wonder if it feels like being visited by Aliens! so beautiful to see the delight on the kids faces and it must be awesome to know that you have made a deep connection with so many. Thanks for sharing :) xxxx

  • Wow, the images and story stopped me in my busy tracks. Long for those people, open spaces and feeling of time being still. Bridget, thank you for sharing and for inspiring me.

  • Jody Sturdy

    Bridget I am so glad you are still doing this trip... it does remind me of 2 great wishes though (conflicting wishes as it turns out): to have gone on that Nepal trip with you in 2007, and to bring my 2 amazing daughters (who probably would not exist if I'd gone on that Nepal trip) on a trip with you to Leh... isn't life a trip?! with love, j

LEAVE COMMENT