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Ode to Ladakh

A cry of anguish escaped my lips; oh my Little Tibet, land of high passes, what has befallen you. This was my reaction when a dear friend called me from Leh on that tragic Friday morning. In his words “Not me, not my father nor generations before us have ever seen or heard of a sea of water descend from the heavens on our beloved land”. I feel for my friends and am at a loss to find appropriate words to express my deep pain, words lose me. Only thing I can do at this moment is to hope and pray that the suffering ceases and wait for the time I can be at the side of my friends to do my bit.

 I have been traveling to Ladakh and the surrounding regions since 1999 and every moment spent in this wonderful land was a blessing. I close my eyes in this moment of distress, images of days of happiness flash by, lamas in deep meditation is what I see, images of laughing children twirling around Apricot trees flash by, vibrancy and riot of colors of Changspa street is what I feel, Shanti Stupa silhouetted in the light of the stars is what I can imagine but what I couldn’t imagine ever is what I am seeing, images of Ladakh devastated by fury of nature.

The most astonishing aspect to this tragedy is that Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, denying entry to monsoon clouds which leads to extremely low precipitation levels. So, how, why did this tragedy happen?? The real killer was the slush and mud slides that occurred due to abnormally high rains. You have to understand that the vegetation in Ladakh is extremely sparse, mud and rocks are loosely binded and cover most of the high ground. This phenomenon needs to be studied so as to take safe guards against recurrence of such disasters. Recent flooding of the Indus River in the region can be attributed either to abnormal rain patterns or the retreating of glaciers, both of which might be linked to global warming. I last visited Ladakh in the first week of July this year and could see for myself the depleted condition of glaciers and change in precipitation levels.

Reason for this tragedy happening might be plenty, but it is not the time to dwell on them, it is time for hope. Don’t lose hope my friends, things change for the better and we will change it hand in hand. My heart goes out to the fabulous and ever hospitable people of Ladakh.

“Oh my land, show strength for you have friends who will be at your side. Brick by brick, inch by inch, shovel to hand we will rebuild”.


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