"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)

confluence

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

The confluence of the rivers Indus and Zanskar.
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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.
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Pictures probably taken close to the village of Nimmu in Ladakh.


Strange Confluence

A confluence of colour,
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Of rivers
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And geometries.
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The contrast of light and shade,

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A meeting of land and sky,
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The occasional harmonies of monks and music,
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The fusing of health and safety,
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And the fellowship of friends in need.
All were encountered as we travelled on to Darjeeling.

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..”Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also..

From “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen.
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