Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two weeks in Leh

I have been in Leh (Ladakh) for the past two weeks now. If one is looking for creative inspiration of any sort, then no place better than this. It is not the idyllic and expected snowy beauty that one looks for in the mountains. The place has an eerie and desolate feel. Think of vast and barren spaces, stretching over as far as the eye can see. Picture rows of black and brown mountains with their peaks obscured by mist. And then there is the odd black mountain standing out with layers of snow on it.
An Indian version of The Shining (God forbid that it should ever happen) can very well be shot in Ladakh. There is isolation and silence, all around and all the time.
I live in a village called Shey, where the Druk Padma Karpo School is located. If I step outside my room and do a 360 degree turn, all I see are mountains, and mountains. In the evening, as I walk across the school towards the dining hall, I see the light failing fast and the mountains slowly turn into looming black triangles in the sky. Behind the mountains however, the sky lights up in a strange luminous glow. If you stare long and hard enough, you can almost expect to see a glowing spaceship glide across the sky.
Sometimes, I stop in my tracks and stand there, completely still. All I can hear (and feel!) is a biting wind howling around me. At times, it seems to be strong enough to blow me off my feet. At night when I go to bed, I can hear the wind literally screaming outside my room.
This is a place of a violent and insane beauty. A picture that challenges your ideas of aesthetics and what is "pleasing on the eye".
Living somewhere is very different from visiting it. Mountains, happiness and misery make for a rather interesting cocktail.