Monday, September 27, 2010

Takmachik Homestay

The following was written by VISpa, Hayden Chinchester during our 6 day homestay in the village of Takmachik following the Zanskar trek.

What a day today, got up around 8:00 and watched Abile (our host family's grandmother) make us morning flat bread, japati, and then watched as Gyaltsan lit his thumb on fire with the local Ladakhi beer (I suspect it was slightly harder) that his grandfather was drinking.

The lights went out last night (they have electricity from 7 to 11 here) but to continue, after breakfast Gyaltsan-our host- Ruth and I worked this morning clearing one of Gyaltsans family fields that was covered in thick mud and rocks during the flood. It was definitely tiring but it was fun because Gyaltsan taught us an old tibetan song that I have written down in my other notebook. We had to move this one huge stone that took all of our strength and we used physics and were able to roll it to just the right spot-the edge of the field- where we started a stone wall. After working only about 3 hours in the morning we went across the river and had lunch or Zarra at Gyaltsons great aunts house and oh boy were we fed well. Around 12:15 we were served tea, cookies, apricots, and apricot nuts (which very much resemble an almond in taste and appearance). Then we prepared lunch for 2 hours, carrot and potato dish. Ruth and I talked in spanish off and on for fun and commented on how long they take for lunch here, so different from the 30 minutes you get back home in school. Later in the day when school go out I played soccer with all the Ladaki boys in the street. It was so fun and it reminded me of all the stages I went through as a kid. It was still just kick and mob but i managed to pul off some tricks, got some "ooo's" and "ahh's" and had a great go of it. After the game died down I set a goal and let the kids shoot on me, and they were all excited but as young boys they couldn't take turns although I think they enjoyed messing with each other as much as anything. After the game I walked up the river to try and find where Ruth and Nate were digging but I couldn't find them and ended up walking far up stream and meeting an old lady with sticks of her back and a man, well dressed, herding a cow with a huge harvest of grass strapped to his. After passing several bends I couldn't see the bridge anymore and with the sun low in the sky I thought the approaching twilight beautiful and mysterious in accent. After taking several pictures I realized how prevalent the flood damage is everywhere. I saw a cave halfway up a mountain I would have explored with more time. I got back to the village everything seemed more familiar and boys and girls kept approaching me and asking me about my headphones and my name. Two little boys in the back of a truck asked for a photo and posed. It was funny, I noticed that like "homework" after playing many boys had to go work in the fields or help herd animals. On my way to Ellie's house I saw a truck being unloaded of cinder bricks and I stopped to help. Boys and men from all over town stopped and helped to make a chain, it was a pleasant site, heart warming and smile provoking. Anyway we ate around 10 again and Gyaltsan's cousin, Sonam, who went to a university in New Delhi was very curious about america and asked many questions. After dinner I showed them my photo album and postcards and they were very interested and I was happy. At on point Sonam said "Your 50 years ahead of us in the United States" and this gave me some insight into many of the ideas that, especially, formally educated Indians have about America. Ruth and I explained that technology isn't everything.

As of right now I am sitting next to several stupas at the top of the village, Takmachik, it is much windier up here on this small mountain overlooking the village and the sun is blistering, heating only one side of my face. I think for me, the mountains here are not my favorite, all though powerful, strong, weathered and timeless there barren surfaces makes me me miss the Zanskar valley, so long ago now, with the Holy mountain at our back-sticking up like a knife- and the great rocky red, orange and black mountain I sat under that day with the goats, and the one ram who straggled behind the rest. I can still sit and wonder and feel about the view from the sandy hill before our camp that long day, where to our right, looked like the path to.... and the icy mysterious deep, cold, green, glacier ridden but calm in its beckoning. And to my left the mountains that let me feel there spirits, made me feel like an ancient native American standing looking out over his land with the wind in his hair and the gods in his eyes, made me feel that if i ventured there i would meet a spiritual and soft people in these mountains and that i would learn their secrets. At my right with the steady call of the "Gangsri" (glaciers) I felt i would meet a strong, fierce, mystical people, living in wood fire lit huts and strong buildings and wars and hunts and merrymaking and barbary. But that is just my Imagination running, as I let it.
I told this as my favorite moment today to Keagan, Hannah, and Ruth. Ruth and I went to visit after a great breakfast and a message that we were staying another night. We got the message after already saying goodbye to Gyaltson, receiving bundles of dried apricots and giving him his postcard (he chose the cow). At Hannah's we talked a long time about food and realized that was what everyone was craving. It is interesting that we Americans should draw so much happiness from food, I am realizing more and more how privileged we are to live in America. Can I ever be a master of communication, of storytelling, of language!? I don't know, but I would love to try.

Stone stands tall,
Pushed by the volcanoes under the earth
Larger than anything

Water gives life and flows unmutable
Nothing stopping its path

But water unto rock,
Two forces of nature
Water cuts stone,
Cuts deep
While winding the sinkhole
Following Gravities rainbow

Like a wise old mountain we wait,
We watch

Like an eager young stream
We chase what we cannot see

Are the paths in the mountain,
cut by the water,
the paths I see now,
The ultimate irony?

The One,
Fighting so hard against its pull,
clawing for eons upwards,
so still
knowing the secrets of the earth.

The Other,
Giving itself so willingly,
obeying every turn, every direction
only passing by for a fleeting moment

And yet, The Other molds The One.
The action molds the thought,
the flow shows the fight

A poem I composed on that mountain top, not quite finished. Hope everyone is doing great back home!


  1. Hayden, Thank you so much for that window on your journey, for that window into your soul. I almost felt as if I was there with you for a moment...So grateful to be your mom this lifetime!!!

  2. Hayden, You painted such a beautiful and thought provoking window into life and escapades in the area of India you are in. We cannot wait for pictures.I am so proud of you.

  3. yo Hayden, that poem is hella dope!