You get used to your surroundings, levels of honesty, bargaining etc according to where you live. For us, living in the National Capital Region of India, it was business as usual to be skeptical of anything and everything. It was in this light that the conversations we had in with people of Ladakh were eye opening.
What I enjoyed most in Ladakh was the conversations with the locals, when it happened. My husband was buying a second hand ‘down’ jacket. He asked the shopkeeper, “Mein kaise maan lun ki ye down hai?” (How do I believe you it is actually down). The shopkeeper’s reply still rings in my ears. He said, “Mere paas kuch he aur din hai fir upar jana hai, mein aapko dokha kyon dunga?” (I have only a few days left here then I have to go from this world, why I will cheat you). Can’t remember when I heard such a conversation in my daily life!
The name of our young driver on the trip from Leh to the Pangong Lake was a Toni (In the picture above, with goggles). He has a colorful personality and he drove the jeep like a rally driver. I wonder why nobody thinks of training these chaps for F1, no seriously. But behind the colorful personality is an extremely composed mind.
He was telling me he takes the jeep from Leh to Manali and they have to come back empty, because from there Himanchal Pradesh drivers come full (and they go back empty from Leh). So I asked him why doesn’t he gets some passengers and take the money, on the way back (tourists know that JK number vehicles will take them for less if they are somehow approached). He said, “Jeep wala naa bhi dekhe tou kya, uparwala tou dekhta hai” (Even though the jeep owner may not know, but the One sitting above can see). I was completely taken aback.
Now that I am back to my usual grind, I thought I should write this down, before I forget.