Just to make certain I portray both sides of the road here. In past posts, I briefly touch on the poverty that you will notice when you travel to Ladakh, but previously, I did not mention much in the way of specifics. Well if this kind of thing makes your stomach turn, like it did mine at the time, then go to another post. Seriously.
Okay, for those readers interested in my take on some of the suffering that goes on, read on. I think my inability to digest and process all of this information led to my being sick some of the time – when I was with the pilgrimage group, it was easier to turn a cold shoulder to. However, when I was on my own in Ladakh, everything was vividly in front of my face. I was reminded constantly of how easy we have things in the West.
One day, the group saw the cutest puppy playing in a field. It was very fluffy and cute indeed. However, when I was alone and walking up the street one day, I saw that it was nosing after every little thing in the same field, obviously searching for food. It continued doing so in the street until I got close. Then, when I tried to slowly approach it, despite my being good with animals, it got frightened and ran away. So much isolation and fear at a young age – ouch!
Then, while I was attending the Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration, I saw a beggar woman, who was very short – maybe 4 feet tall. And this little woman had a tiny screaming baby. Oh my word! If I had had some extra spending money at that point, I would have given her some (and then possibly had all the beggars descend on me). But it was heartrending to hear that child. And then to think that it might, hopefully not, have been her child? Ooph!
In my journal I wrote that the wild animals seemed to be happiest, if I might anthropomorphize a moment. The dzos we saw (hybrid yak / cows) in Nubra Valley were rampant and playful, chasing each other around the streams. Jumping lightly despite carrying such bulky bodies.
Back in Leh, there were several occasions when car horns would spook cows and they would run into parked vehicles or slip as they stepped in the deep gutters. On one occasion I passed a cow whose tail was dripping blood. Sure, these instances could happen anywhere, but I guess I was hypersensitive by the end of my time in Ladakh – spiritually full and emotionally overwhelmed.