Thurs. 8th August. 9pm
This is not my last night in Leh, and if the buses don’t arrive from the water-logged, landslipped mountain, it won’t be my penultimate. I hope to leave Saturday, if only to get moving again.
I’ll be, and indeed am, sorry to leave. Parting from my home of two months will not be easy as I’ll be leaving a part of my heart and my contented memories may, nay will, fade over time.
I admit to feeling a little bored: the last two, three, weeks have been spent in relative slothfulness, lacking the mental or physical stimuli to actively seek out new entertainments. I have read a great deal and promenaded little. The occasional meal with Steve, Valerie and others who’ve been here, like me, for a month or two, have been highlights. And there’s Philip from Bristol University who has come to me for advice and wisdom (?). Ostensibly it’s because he intends to produce a play based on Dibs – In Search of Self, and he was wondering how to observe and motivate. The feelings of parenthood this induced, or perhaps more like an older brother, reinforced my inner aura of stability.
Hence, my pending departure is making me nervous. In moments of non-communication over the next few moths, I’ll be looking back at Ladakh and remembering the security it has afforded me. I’ve gained the confidence here to explore by myself, so maybe my fears are based more on the arduous discomforts and trains that await. Middle-aged comforts are being sought where once the spirit of adventure would have transcended all.
Valerie and Philip joined me for a ‘farewell’ meal, a valedictory supper, this evening. Cooked by Didi, the lady of the house and served in her kitchen, it was the first purely Ladakhi meal I’d had. Maybe somewhat remiss, but I’ve preferred the social setting of eating out. Perhaps too, I didn’t want to put Didi to extra effort for my sake.
The vegetable soup was full of pasta made with local brown flour which also flavoured the gravy. With potatoes, kohlrabi (cabbage turnip) greens, raw carrots, onions and tomatoes, this could well have been the tastiest and most nutritious meal I’ve eaten here.
I found myself worrying for young Philip, however. With his constant talk of bad trips, induced by hash, depression, meditation through Buddhism and the perceived wisdom of Miguel, ex-heroin junkie and adventurer, Philip is having great difficulty in finding himself. Our advice that experience will tell him what he needs to learn is possibly of little value to one in such a perplexed hurry.
Is this to be my last night in Leh? The suspense is getting to me.
With the choice of ‘B’ class bus or ‘B’ class bus there is no choice. I can put up with discomfort if I have to, but when I don’t, my fertile mind looks for other options. Or waits for other options to find me.
In this case, truck JKL 609, driven by Sikhs, is heading for Srinagar tomorrow morning, they say at 9. If so, for Rs 60/-, to include food, possibly, en route, I expect, I’ll get away.
Thanks to visa extension requirements, road slippages and my own sloth, a family pet, my leave taking is taking nigh on two weeks. That’s the lure of Leh.
Finished reading Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie. Given that it’s set at the time of the partition of India in 1947, and the resulting upheaval, it seems appropriate to have read it here where the echoes of that time reverberate some 40 years later.