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This was the last day of the group of pilgrims being together. The rest were heading back the following day (provided the winds were good for planes to take off – this can be a problem and actually I would recommend taking it into account in your plans and leaving Ladakh a day early as a result). After the busy past few days off travel and Lama Yuru Gompa and festivities, we took this day pretty much off and explored the markets of Leh. A group of us went back to the Thangka painter, others went to a fancy Tibetan furniture shop. I also visited my new Tibetan acquaintance, Tamding. Here is a picture of Tamding and his brother.
Tamding’s life seemed challenging but he was content with what little he had. He had a stall in one of the central Tibetan markets, his wife had a stall in another one and his brother had a table in an outlying market, selling CDs. He sold some typical Tibetan ritual objects – musical instruments, the little scrolls with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s sayings on them, little stupas and more. I purchased some things from him previously and on this day he introduced me to his wife. Actually… funny story here.
I love how the Tibetans are more traditional – they don’t show affection in public, in fact I rarely, if ever see them hug each other. (With my Venus in Aquarius, I’m not a big fan of PDA’s.) Therefore, Tamding told me he was taking me to meet his wife and other friends. So we get to this other market, and we head toward a table. There is a beautiful woman nearby but Tamding does not seem to acknowledge her, and of course, my being a slightly bone-headed Westerner… I go and ask where is his wife! Laugh out loud! Well that’s what he did because he said, she is right there, indicating the beautiful woman standing not too far away. Talk about feeling embarrassed. Luckily he quickly offered me some limeade followed by Tibetan tea. I negotiated with his wife for some malas to bring back – it seemed like they were giving me a deal but I’m not so sure. However, they more than made up for it later.
I arranged to meet Tamding the following Sunday (two days forward) to go to the Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration. I was looking forward to that, plus it was nice having made a local friend once my pilgrimage group people left. Tamding later told me that he spends most of his time in South India where he has a similar experience selling Tibetan items in markets. He spends the summers in Ladakh because of how hot India can be. Well at least this isn’t so bad.
The thangkas ended up being less than I expected so I was able to purchase two of them – one of Droljang or Green Tara (Drolma Jangku) and one painting of the wheel of existence – the six realms of samsara or Si Pa’i Khor Lo. Talk about a deal – I spent about $80 US for each where as in the US, each would cost a minimum of $250.
We ate dinner with the family of the guest house, which provided a nice sense of closure. There were about twenty of us at a long table and we shared many Indian / Ladakhi dishes. MMmm good!