Songs from the mountain looms
As winters turn into summers, I still long to snuggle under the covers and wake up to a blast of cold morning air from the window. And with a recent movie that shows beautiful stretches of snow, I am longing to go back to that place. I was there last September and now I want to go there again. I guess I can start out by writing about it. I promise to cover all the beautiful crafts very very soon. But till then, do let me day dream.
In less than 24 hours, I was in Spiti. A flight from Ahmedabad to Chandigarh, an arduous bus journey to Kullu and from there a day long journey on the non-existent highway took me to Kaza in Spiti. I landed there in time for dinner and found my head reeling. I put it aside to all the excitement of the trip, the difficult terrain and most of all to my utter lack of sleep. So I dozed off under comforting covers at the cozy Sakya Abode. I woke up in a few hours unable to breathe. The harder I tried, the more difficult it was and I started to panic. The search engine in my head was trying to work out time frames before I slip into cerebral edema. Thankfully a very thoughful team member handed me an oxygen can and I took in the delicious air while staring out at the star speckled sky. I have never seen a more beautiful sight in all my life.
The morning after was better, though my head felt like it was made of the heaviest metal. I woke up to a grand sight of brightly painted monasteries against the barren landscape. The starkness was breath-taking. With even slight movements giving me palpitations, I decided to take it easy for the day. A little reading, sleeping and drinking a lot of water was supposed to do me some good. But sleep evaded me.
So I set out to do my usual stuff of meeting artisans, this time a Thangka painter. This monk, Dorje (as almost all the men are called) showed us the various Thangkas that he had made over a period of twenty years. And even after all this time, he did not consider himself his master’s equal. He gifted us some of his work and refused to take money as a monk does not have worldly needs. The monastery catered to his need and he was well looked after.
While walking around the market, we encountered an old lady who sang her designs! Every design was linked to a song and women sang them as they wove intricate shawls. She was the last few of them who knew the songs and claimed that she rarely sang them and is forgetting them quickly. She created a loom out of pieces of wood that she kept stowed away in her attic.
As we drove out of Kaza, we refuelled at the world’s highest fuelling station. What a high!
Note: It is better to stay in Manali for a couple of days before making the trip to Spiti as it helps you acclimatize. In case you feel a little off, drink lots of water, don’t exert yourself and eat well for 2-3 days. We stayed at Sakya Abode which is highly recommended.