It is difficult for me to write about Ladakh. I have been there countless times, in thoughts, on travel sites, in other people’s photographs. From each of these visits I came back with a yearning. To feel this absolutely foreign land – to see whether a sky could be really so blue, or clouds could really hang cruelly on a barren landscape,unyielding. To see if it really existed or if it was a myth created in photoshops.
And now, back from there, I still don’t know if it is all true. The five days that I spent there passed in a daze. Or in shivers, or really hard breaths. Anything but consciousness of what was before me. In the few road trips that I made, I knew on some level that there was tremendous beauty in front of my eyes, but I kept looking at it with passivity. Seldom did the camera come out. I don’t know what numbed me – perhaps it was the very thin air which still somehow found a way to weigh on me, perhaps I was overwhelmed with that lonely landscape, perhaps it is really a different planet and you feel things differently there. It is hard for me to fathom.
I am grateful that I took few pictures. Especially of that magical lake – Tso Pangong. For all the photos of this unrealistic place that people have showed me, no one ever told me that you have to pass through throes of hell to get there. That the path goes through curving, winding roads seeped in thick snow. That your head spins endlessly, and you see jarring images of snow and desert. But I guess they did not tell me because once you see that lake, it is difficult to remember the journey. I forgot too, standing at the shore. I spent a few minutes trying to determine whether there really is another piece of land beyond this vast expanse of water – I could not imagine any, even though our driver kept talking about China and Tibet. May be that is why Tibet is a troubled land – it stands where the world was supposed to end.
The only place where I felt myself were the monasteries – even the old ones, where there was no one but stones. That must be the reason why the monasteries were built there, to keep consciousness alive every few kilometers.
I have to go back – the illusion still exists and I still feel the need to look deeper.