Skip to main content

[100 Strangers Project] Strangers #6, #7 and #8

Strangers #6 & #7

The pretty damsels by the lake

After the mind-blowing bike ride from Leh to Pangong we checked into a cozy homestay by the lake, refreshed ourselves and went for a stroll along the lake. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in India. I’ve never seen a more peaceful and heavenly lake!
I left VJ with some of our new found friends and started walking by the lake all by myself, enjoying the peace and solitude. I was suddenly brought back from the trance by a pleasant voice asking me if I could take a picture of her by the lake. The photographer in me woke up with a startle! And for the next couple of minutes I took some of her portrait shots with the beautiful backdrop!
We chatted for a while, most of the time talking about the pristine beauty of the place! I found her to be a cheerful and happy person who wants to live her life to the fullest. A budding fashion designer, she is a free-spirited person.

Mallika from Chandigarh
Mallika from Chandigarh

Meet Mallika from Chandigarh whom I met while walking along Pangong.

The blissful walk along the lake continued after bidding Mallika a goodbye. I saw three kids immersed in a stone skipping game. I was reminded of 3 idiots 😉
Suddenly my attention was caught by a young lady who was sitting by the lake on a rock with a diary in her hand on which she was occasionally writing something. She looked like a poetess from the modern period and had a calm and serene expression on her face. I couldn’t resist talking to her though I didn’t want to disturb her work. She responded with a sweet smile. It turned out that she was indeed writing a poem about the surreal place in front of us! Writing was her hobby and it was mostly for her own self. When I told her about the 100 strangers project she got excited and readily agreed to be one of my strangers!

Saachi from Chandigarh
Saachi from Chandigarh

Meet Saachi Dhillon, a marketer by profession and a budding writer from Chandigarh.

Stranger #8

The lady who made the most delicious thukpa

The last pit-stop for the day arrived and we stumbled out of our cab. It was at an altitude of whopping 4500 metres(~15,280 feet)! We had arrived at Pang, the world’s highest transit camp.
At such an altitude and very low oxygen levels, walking for even a few metres can be a herculean task! Such is altitude sickness!
Needless to say, our bodies were tired and minds numb with mountain sickness but we were also constantly mesmerised by the surreal landscape. Being suckers for a good cup of chai (tea) we decided to enter a small, dingy hotel by the road. It was named after its owner. After having an amazing cup of chai and relaxing on the beds provided we decided to order a thukpa. It’s a Tibetan noodle soup, inspired from China. After about ten minutes, the owner of the hotel herself came out with a bowl of steaming hot thukpa in her hands. And it was one of the most delicious soups we have had till now! The taste still lingers in our mouths 🙂
The lady seemed to be satisfied looking at us enjoying her simple dish. We thanked her immensely for rejuvenating our taste buds!
After a short conversation with her, I realised what a hard-working lady she was! She was originally from a village near Leh called Choglamsar which is around 100 kms from Pang. She travels to Pang during the summers to set up her hotel for the travellers. With an ever-smiling face she serves the tired and wasted travellers! She has a son who studies in Delhi and is proud of him. She says life in the mountains is not easy. Still, people have found a way to live in these harsh surroundings.

Sonam Pangri from Pang
Sonam Pangri from Pang

Meet Sonam Pangri who runs a small and cozy hotel in Pang.

And this is VJ enjoying the thukpa!

VJ enjoying thukpa - definitely not a stranger! ;)
VJ enjoying thukpa – definitely not a stranger! 😉

Find more posts on 100 strangers project here.

[100 strangers project] Strangers #2 and #3

Stranger #2

The hard-working farmer

It is truly said that once in your life you need a lawyer, a doctor, a policeman or a priest but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.

VJ was speeding up, trying to reach home to catch some guests. We were scurrying through the countryside wishing we had more time to soak up the beauty of nature. We came to a stretch of road on either sides of which were lush green farms. We just couldn’t resist anymore! All of us started pleading VJ to stop and he eventually gave up. We finally got out of the car and began to walk into the green paddy fields. I remembered reading somewhere that green, which is nature’s colour, is restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving. And a simple walk in and around the farm made us realize the true meaning of it.

I noticed some women working in the field, picking the paddy stalks and giggling to themselves looking at us city-dwellers make such a big deal of their daily work place! The chatter-box that I am, I slowly began talking to one of the women. She was thrilled at this impromptu interview! Being made to work in the fields right from her childhood she has never known any other life. She has married off her daughters to farmers as well and is now actually helping the daughter in her farm.

I was full of admiration for her and all other farmers who are the real heroes in our society. Being a farmer is not an easy task. At the end of the day what is left is a tired and painful body but a high spirit that keeps them going. After all, our food on the table comes from them!

2_kanakamma

Meet Kanakamma from Noolukunta village near Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. A cheerful and talkative farmer I met during my visit to VJ’s hometown.

Stranger #3
The host with never say die spirit

It was one hell of a journey from Leh to Pangong! We thanked our lucky stars to have made it in one piece! All credit goes to VJ whose confidence made us embark on that epic bike ride from Leh to Pangong. We reached the long, narrow, enchanted lake (Tibetan meaning for Pangong Tso) by early evening. We were totally exhausted, shivering with cold and were badly in need of a place to rest our weary heads. A quick search of the available options made us choose a small dingy home-stay run by a Ladakhi woman right in front of the lake.

She looked old and weary but had a spark of determination in her eyes. It is well-known that only the toughest survive in the harsh & testing climate of Ladakh. She was a living example of this fact. Single-handedly she arranged for our bed and blankets, made piping hot chai and egg maggi which we devoured in no time.

Dinner consisted of freshly made rotis, rice and black dal which we all ate in her tiny kitchen trying to understand her routine from whatever little Hindi she knew. After all the hospitality and warmth all that she charged us was Rs. 200 per person including food! It was impossible not to admire her sweet and simple nature and her never say die attitude.

Our friendly Ladakhi host Sonam with our co-traveller Yash.
Our friendly Ladakhi host Sonam with our co-traveller Yash.

Meet Sonam from Spangmik village near Pangong Tso who shared her simple abode with us and made our trip more memorable.

Find more posts on 100 strangers project on my blog here.