ajayjain (ajayjain) wrote in india_travels,

Winning hearts with a bunch of peas in Ladakh

When you drive from Leh to Kargil in the Ladakh region of the Indian Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir, there is a distinct change in the ‘humanscape’ from predominantly Buddhist to largely Muslim. Being a troubled state, and its close proximity to Pakistan, you are never sure what to expect from the people of this region.

It took just a group of children to shatter any stereotyped apprehensions when I stopped at a village about 30 kilometers before Kargil to take some pictures; as I stood with my camera, a group of small boys and girls surprisingly came up to me with a gift of a bunch of peas freshly taken from their fields. And I realized it is moments like these in one’s lives that suddenly make the world so much a beautiful place.

In fact, at first when I saw this group of children approaching me from their home and fields located along the slope going down from the highway where I was standing, I thought they would be coming to ask for something, pushing me back on to the defensive. Only for me to realize they were the ones offering me something, immediately making me realize how small my thinking had been instinctively.

But after that it was more of friendship, even though we could barely understand each other’s languages. They spoke mostly Balti, and me Hindi and English. But we did not need the language. As I offered them chocolates, sweets and biscuits I always carry – a good idea to be well stocked on food on such drives – more children appeared from almost nowhere. Almost like rats, the Mickey Mouse kind, coming out from their holes. While no one asked or reached out to ask for anything from me, they all readily accepted what I offered.

And they happily posed for the pictures too. In fact, a group of six boys who came from above the hill on the other side of the road starting shuffling themselves into position for a group photo without even being prompted. They even made sure their arms were straight by their sides, school boy style.

What also caught my attention was the energy and enthusiasm of these children, their smiles and the spark in their eyes.  All of these seem to say we want something good for ourselves from this life, and we are going to get it. I wish they do; and they are not lost like generations are all over the world due to the mindless politicking and conflicts of the human race.

The peas never tasted as sweet as the ones these children gave me. I cannot wait to go back to meet them again.
Tags: children, kargil, kashmir, ladakh, muslim
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