Friday, August 20, 2010

Ladakh today

Having still vivid in our mind the images and the memories of our trip in Ladakh, we could not remain indifferent to the recent events that hit Ladakh.

Beside the incredulity, the sorrow and the feeling of impotence we felt watching the images of these beautiful places completely devastated (places that we feel a bit ‘ours’ now), what grips our stomachs and our hearts is the uncertainty about (and the impossibility to know) what happened to the people we met and with whom we shared a few moments of our recent life. Pemba, Pemma, Dorge. But also the people whose name we don’t even know or remember: the yak-herders near Sumdo Chimnu, the lady that sold noodles and coca-cola on the way to Dung Dung La, the families that opened their homes and hosted us…

But even if these people happen not to belong to the 160 or more that died during the flooding, an inconvenient question still tortures our minds. What will it happen to them now?

The Ladakhis live a decent subsistence economy in which the food and fuel produced during the short growing season is stored and consumed during the long and harsh winters.

The harvest for this year is gone, the small-scale water channels and the other mud-brick infrastructures destroyed, and it will probably take several years before they are re-built and become functional again. And I doubt these people have savings or own other resources or alternative livelihoods that would allow them to cope with the consequences of a disaster of such magnitude...

What will it happen to them now?

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