Wednesday, June 3, 2015



The mystical Lunar landscape and the genuineness of the local people make Ladakh one of my favourite travel destinations. Yet Ladakh can sometimes be a challenge to visit.

My main concern in visiting Ladakh is the weather. In the winter, the temperatures often dip below minus thirty Celsius (-22 F). I for one avoid cold weather, much like I avoid locations riddled with bird flu and the H1N1 virus. I obviously don't do ‘cold’. But Ladakhi summers are lovely. From June Through half October, the weather is palatable, although October can be bracing.

Another situation to be aware of, if you choose to visit, is the summer sun. Because Ladakh is a dry environment with the little or no rain (most of the water is runoff from the
Himalayan Mountains), the skies are iridescent blue with a gruelling sun blazing down every day. Strong sunscreen is a necessity.

Dogs in Ladakh: Stray dogs in Leh are a reality. Many dogs with no homes wander Leh. These dogs my Ladakhi friends refer to as ‘skanky’ (the word for street) dogs do not travel in packs, nor do they bother the population just as the locals don’t interact with them. They are beautiful big, ginger colored dogs with thick coats, much of which are unshed, left over from the previous winter. There is a symbiotic relationship between the dogs and the community. In the summer, the dogs get most of there food from restaurant leftovers and in the winter the locals put out food for them. There are always fresh litters in the spring of cute teddybear puppies that are amazingly huggable. I am told in the winter they huddle together and obviously procreate as they seek
warmth from each other. I have seen only one veterinarian office in all my travels in the country, and that was in the community of Saboo, about ten miles outside of Leh.
Some locals own small white power puff dogs, they value greatly. So I doubt that any vet(s) in the country, if there is more than one, have any interest in helping the ‘skanky' dogs, some of whom have major physical problems; all of whom need to be neutered or spaded. If I were ‘rich’ I would get some Veterinarians for at least a summer season to help those needy animals.

Medically, if a traveler has an orthopaedic problem - my latest was an elbow fracture - my experience with the local government hospital has been excellent. It costs 5 cents to see a doctor and 50 or 60 cents an X-ray. Although there are always masses of locals waiting to see the doctor, they
all expect you as a guest in their country to cut the cue and go before them. Ladakhis are really kind people.
Although I have traveled extensivel in the country, I have yet to visit Pangong Tso Lake, which is owned one quarter by Ladakh, India and the other three quarters by China (actually in Tibet). There are other areas of Ladakh which have a border with Tibet as well, and the Indian government must maintain troops along this border I am told because Chinese soldiers stationed along the border, often carry out hit and run raids across the border just to harass the Indian army and government. I understand that during these surprise raids, the Chinese will disrupt an Indian camp, maybe burn a camp facility and then return back across the border to their own camps. I have also read about these attacks in the local Indian newspapers. There are negotiations, the Chinese retreat and then it begins again. I understand from a military source that these kinds of incedents also happens along the Sikkim/Chinese border in North-eastern India. This is of no worry to tourists as we are not the target. It is just another interesting fact about the locale.

Although Ladakh is part of the Indian state of Jammu Kashmir, it still has a King and royal family. He is always voted to represent the Ladakhi people in the Indian Parliament, and mixes socially with his subjects at weddings and funerals, or what ever important event happens within a Ladakh family.

Buddhist Ladakhi families tend to be smaller that their Ladakhi Moslem friends and neighbours. One or two children born within family seem to be the norm. No child gets his/her name from their parents, but rather a Lama or Rinpoche (equivalent to a Bishop or Cardinal in the Catholic Church) names all Buddhist children born in families belonging to the Tibetan Buddhist religion. Each child’s name depends on the time and date of the youngster’s birth. Each name has a meaning, thus names are generic, so both boys and girls may have the same names.

The further into the hinterlands of Ladakh one travels, the less princely the accommodations. One can stay in little guest houses and/or monasteries, in some places visitors ‘tent’ or stay with locals. What ever your travel plans(style), Ladakh has much to offer. I could go on and on with exhalations about this beautiful area of India, but may I end with visit Ladakh for your selfs. It’s a holiday you won’t regret.

RE: My fascination with Mr. Modi, the new Prime Minister of India

Mr. Modi has really excellent plans for India: cleaning up Varanasi and the lower Ganges River, general cleaning up of the country, and pushing the importance of spreading Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine to the world stage. He has come out against the attacks on women, and we are seeing more judicial action being taken against the perpetrators.

Yet in education, “Professor Y. Sudershan Rao, the head of the Indian Council of Historic Research, backed by Mr. Modi, believes that the events of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the wonderful Hindu historic epics” (whether these are true events or not I can’t say, I wasn’t alive during that time period). The professor also said that “Indians were flying aeroplanes and carrying out stem research 5000 years ago” are true historic facts of Indian history. While “in Gujarat new student text books state that ‘cars were invented in ancient Indiaand told children to draw an enlarged nation (of India) to include (the) countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.”

Although I am by no means an Indian historian, I do know that when the Turkic-Persians moved south into India, they had already conquered Afghanistan, and what is now the country of Pakistan. I know that Afghanistan became an independent country sometime during the 19th century. I also know that when the British left India in 1947, what is now known as Pakistan and Bangladesh were partitioned off from India as a separate Muslim state. So if those children are being taught historic references fine. But if they are being taught that modern day India includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well then........

“The last time the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was in power a decade ago it (also) began to rewrite school books in line with Hindu nationalist orthodoxy. These claims can be

interpreted as sign of an inferiority complex,” said Romila Thapar, a leading scholar on ancient India.”

In my opinion, India is a country that has developed some of the most important and purposeful philosophical principles in all the world... Here is a country of real reasoners and thinkers. Why should the BJP party care if they invented some mechanical thing? Who is it that Silicon Valley wants to employ, young educated Indians. They did not come by these abilities yesterday, great philosophical thinking is ingrained in the Indian physic, to hell with the invention of the car. When will the BJP realise that Indians, as a society have intellectually already surpassed the industrial revolution hundreds of years ago? 

Addendum:  Recently Mr. Modi has come out against the spread of outrageous ideas by any of his compatriots. 

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