I have been off regular blogging for the last couple of weeks, courtesy a brief vacation we took to “get away from it all.”
However, I have managed to “re-blog” some wonderful posts from the Reader, thanks to the hugely erratic mobile Internet connection in the remote areas where we decided to “get lost”. for close to a week.
Though there are several very interesting stories to narrate and visuals to share from during our travels across the remote North East Indian state of Sikkim, I will start with these “faces” captured as we crisscrossed the tiny Buddhist Himalayan state.
The most striking was this image of an 85-year “monk” woman (top) who lives in a shack near the Rumtek monastery near the state capital Gangtok in East Sikkim and trudges up a steep hill every day, sometimes twice a day, for a meal at the monastery cafeteria. No one knows her real name but locals say she lives alone and has no known living relatives. She was, in fact, quite happy at her picture being taken and even offered to share her modest breakfast with us!
Another rather intense image was that of this happy-go-lucky gentleman (bottom) who came to our help when we thought we lost our way, guiding us in the right direction.
We also received some assistance from this mountain “cowboy” (bottom) who confirmed we were not off-track. What was striking about him was that he had no footwear – a tradition among some villagers who have never been known to wear shoes or slippers, inspite of the sometimes harsh conditions.
As we moved along in the light rain and along the rather steep cloud-draped road, we met this rather grim-looking lady tending to a small herd of cows. Though she was reluctant to get her picture taken, she agreed on promise of “taking only one.”
And then, as we neared our destination, I chanced upon a group of women “manning” an organic vegetable stall, chatting and having a spicy waterball snack, while dealing with customers.
We did not meet a single sad face that entire day or during our trip. There were some grim expressions but hidden underneath was a smile waiting to emerge. Perhaps that is why Sikkim is one of India’s “happiest” state!