Rakshan. Chitkul, H.P., India. 1994.



….and this (the houses in the sketch) just continues on, perspective is all wrong, but the jist is there. Wood upon wood, upon wood. Rambling staircases, little carvings in unexpected places.

…this day has been very special.

Debgiani, one (approximately 65 year old) ‘nanni’ and I (angrezi didi) walked the 10km to Rakshan. Down(hill) all the way. So beautiful and wild. Sat in dirty, crazy houses all day, ate old style food, fat chapattis and sour milk, mixed with butter, got given some beautiful Kinnauri socks and then walked halfway back before the bus came.

The old  ‘nanni’ became quite tired, despite her tremendous mountain agility! and we held hands.

It was very moving for sentimental me to feel her almost black, wrinkled old hand inside mine for support as we trudged uphill. She is really a very strong character and it was quite something.

I found out later that the whole advneture was a crazy scheme conjured up by ‘didi’ and ‘nanni’ as they do not often get the chance to escape!

The village folk loved the story…

Three crazy ladies, one Kalpa teacher’s wife, one ancient wife of the lama and one Scottish tourist ran away to Rakshan….

Quite a funny day

Laughing, laughing and laughing.

A blistering storm has hit the valley. Outside the rain lashes down and the wind fights with the lungis at the window. Guru Gee and Debgiani lie sleeping in the dark, stove, wind proof chamber next door.

Today, before the storm struck, didi pierced my nose (again!) the way they do it in Kinnaur. Little pain. And I have, by fluke, a gold sleeper that will do me for after. The local ladies love it!”


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