iDemystify | My Encounter With Spiti

“You say you thought Spiti is hostile? And it’s not got anything to do with the people. How’d you explain that?”

Even before I put up my first post – the photo essay – on returning from Spiti, I’d been struggling to first, articulate and then find my own answer to this vague but looming vibe I seemed to have picked up.

That. Of all the other possible vibes.
And then there’s whole temptation to not go meta with an explanation.
But I am digressing.

What’s Spiti like? If I were to paint a picture of words --
Rugged, never-ending mountain ranges 
Within them are housed the monasteries of Dhunkar, Tabo, Kee 
Carpeted mostly in greens but sometimes azures, crimson or splotches of yellows
Snow-capped peaks as the backdrop
Clear blue skies
Tufts of white woolly clouds to adorn it
Still and not so still waters running both deep and wide
Unadulterated clean air everywhere (happy lungs if you discount trouble one may encounter courtesy the altitude)

And here's what the Spitians are like --
My week in Spiti wasn’t without the homestay experience. I had two - one at Demul and then at Komic. (I’m a big proponent of homestays. Read: the post on my reasons why). The Spitians leave no stone un-turned in ensuring that you have the warmest and as comfortable as possible a stay.
Hot piping food 
Farm fresh fruits
Huge yet soft and clean quilts
Locally brewed arak during meals
And tea when you walk in unannounced.

And they tell you their stories --
Stories of taking their cattle to graze in the mountains
Of festivals they celebrate
Of life during the winters when they’re shut off from the rest of the world
Of how the local medicine man learnt his way of diagnosing you (and your medical history) in flat 30 seconds by merely studying your pulse

And you begin to see them as they are --
Happy, like the big statue of Buddha at Langza
One might be led to think that they are oblivious to the opportunities that exist outside of this valley. I think not.
There’s television (even though there’s sporadic electricity) as much as there are folk like me and you visiting that informs them of things we deem to be advancement.

What’s this got to do with hostility?
I figured that out on a Friday evening when relating the same inexplicable vibe to a friend when bam! it struck me.

Spiti by virtue mostly of its topography compels you to look no further than your immediate next step. Your immediate now (almost).
And you begin to see it’s a tough life out there.
And how!
Villages sprinkled very scantily over the valley
Populated in, mostly, just double digits
Roads, conspicuous by their absence
Just dust everywhere
Therein I saw a land that refuses to be tamed
In spite of the years of human habitation
It remains impenetrable and coarse
Nothing simulated

And hence hostile


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