"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

It’s Planet Earth, Jim, But Not As We Know It

The confluence of the rivers Indus and Zanskar.

After our initial exploration of Leh, it was time to travel a little further.
To be honest, I had little idea where we were heading.
There was an itinerary, of sorts, but it was flexible.
We quickly understood that a lengthy list of powerful factors would dictate what actually happened.
Changing weather conditions, earthquakes, landslides, political considerations, religious festivals and military manoeuvres were all apt to disrupt plans.

We were in the Himalayas: a conflict zone between India, China and Pakistan; the roof of the world; and the crumple-zone between two massive tectonic plates in collision.
It was best to relax and let go: to think that we were in control was just to fool ourselves.

It seems we travelled westward.
I have since rechecked our printed programme: the one I signed-up to in Cochin.
It offers little help: many of the places we visited are not mentioned.
I cannot even find them on the map.

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As a young medical student in my early twenties, I travelled to Asia and Africa.
My journey in Ladakh elicited the same emotions as those first forays beyond Europe.
This was a different world: one with which I was totally unfamiliar.
I felt a sense of great wonderment, tinged with the frisson of being decidedly out of my depth.


Pictures probably taken close to the village of Nimmu in Ladakh.

13 responses

  1. S. Etole

    The colors must be a watercolorist’s dream.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

    • Yes, the shades and variations are amazing. But I also found them just a little disconcerting.

      The landscape lacks vegetation. The sheer vastness and the way its colours and contours “run into each other” make it difficult to focus on distinct features.

      The physical response this alien vista induced in me are difficult to describe, but initially I felt something almost akin to vertigo..

      May 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

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  3. exploring other places on the web about this intiguing land, I came across a photo of this confluence that had won a National Geographic contest. Your photo is better.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    • Well that’s very nice to know. In the extremely unlikely event of ever needing to write another c.v., I shall quote you!

      May 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm

  4. So desolate yet so beautiful!

    May 4, 2012 at 4:24 am

    • I am most used to the gentle rolling hills of England, and latterly, the vibrant tropical lushness of South India. This landscape was utterly new to me. I felt a sense of both awe and wonder..

      May 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      • I can see why. There’s nothing like exploring a new place.

        May 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

        • Absolutely! It may be a somewhat tired cliché, but for me, it’s the “spice of life”…

          May 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

  5. JGP

    My life and landscape feel rather mundane! But I suppose my riot of forget-me-nots is quite exhilirating.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:10 am

    • Very exhilarating. And especially when you wear them in your hair!

      May 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

  6. JGP

    Drat! I knew I had spelt exhilarating wrong! Will write it out 20 times, Sir.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:51 am

    • My browser has an automatic spell-check which instantaneously highlights words, as you misspell them. I find it invaluable!

      May 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

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