LEH LADAKH: WHAT TO EXPECT

May 7, 2017

 

 The worst this thing about routines is that they are routine. They give you a space to complain about comforts and take luxury for granted. If in fact you live in Mumbai this feature is quite common, not that anyone is to blame but that’s pretty much how it works here. But you need some experiences and memories and places to remind you constantly that the things that you so assume as obvious are not always so.. Leh along with its picturesque landscapes and spell bounding nature showed me the two essentials that we people by the sea have taken for granted. One is Oxygen... who thinks about it really? unless you are studying about it or some one (not so) funnily dunked you under water faaaar too long, or because you forgot to breathe in the rush and mush (that happens too). You don’t really think of it every waking minute do you? well here you do! the first thing we were told was “before you get off the plane take this tablet, it will help you breathe easy, else you will surely hyper ventilate and even faint.” That was the first shock I think; that you need to worry about breathing, that you need to actively think about it.... The first essential had presented itself...

 

 

The second happened to be something else altogether. I am patriotic, or so I thought, and in the comforts of our living rooms, excellent transport, quality, quantity and variety of food available and naturally the security to speak/do anything and everything in your city/ country gives you the right to say that you love your country... and again, no one is to blame; in our way we do just that some do it in a much more concrete fashion. The Indian armed forces are I guess like mythical characters for other citizen, we know they exist, we have all heard of them; some good some bad; there are many tales spun about and around them and on 26th January and 15th August we do see them get a mention on TV too. but that’s that, beyond this our connection to one another is fleeting if not none, until you see the borders of course.

 

 

Leh Ladakh region is not in as much lime light as the Kashmir valley is in terms of involvement of armed forces and terrorism but this area has seen a major war, and it has seen the army stand tall for them and for us. On the day we landed we met with a Col. Singh (for the sake of his privacy I shall not delve into further details) but that meeting showed us their love, hospitality and extreme love for the mother land, also the price that they and their families pay so that I exercise the Right to Freedom of speech and action and settlement in the country etc. Their sheer grace, loving warmth and genuine want to meet their fellow country men is humbling. Their quiet pride and melancholy when they remember the loss, horror and honour of Kargil war is just as awe inspiring. You realize the cost of the safety you enjoy and the fact that some one else seems to have paid it for years now and continue to pay leaving us in peace with our routines.

 

So when those days swim by when everything gets too much, when people seem like A grade jerks, when work seems tiring, when nothing works your way I take my heart back to Leh; the image of the mountains gives me peace and that memory of jolly soldiers gives me the perspective that someone is dealing with something worse.. something selfish and selfless at the same time and the way they are doing their bit for the country I have to do mine. I then take a long deep breathe, the ease with which oxygen floods the body reminds you of the struggle that action is elsewhere and suddenly things seem to get better. So routines will be routines and they will get the way they get but we have the essentials and I have now learnt to appreciate them. As long as there is oxygen to easily breathe in and a determined soldier at the border all else will be taken care of...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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