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The Stones of Ladakh

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I'm poor, but I sleep well at night.
I make my own clothes, I grow my own food,
I make earthen utensils; I have 50
mountain cows, and they supply me milk,
butter, cream, et cetera.
Down below in the plains — there lives
Hindus and Muslims; they come here
as tourists, in the summers.

I have 5 boys: all of them go to school; when they
come back home — they tell us about fascinating
stories of America, of Europe, and other
such places.
I have a small television in the house.
My boys love to watch movies
of Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and so on.

Although life in here is harsh in the
mountains, there are certain advantages here—
For example, we have no mosquitoes here. In
summer nights, I stay awake for long
and enjoy the iridescent stars overhead—
We are an old people; we are like a colossal
tree whose roots are so deep in the earth
that they can not be traced anymore; I tell
my boys to have respect for the old way
of life — but they want to go to the cities,
they want to drive cars. . .

I have lost most of my teeth, and I'm only
barely 60. I can not eat hard food anymore,
I have to crush food with my gum.
I have other health problems, too; but I do not
want to go to a (city) doctor. I do not care
for this body. I'm a Buddhist — I believe
that we live innumerable times, and
innumerable bodies are waiting for us.

In my next life, I would like to become
a bird (an eagle specifically) — and I shall
travel the entire world on my own
wings. After my journey is over, I shall return here,
in Ladakh, and search for the meandering
river, named "Kaali", and become a boulder
on Kaali's banks.
I believe all the boulders in the world were
humans once. They, like me, had
metamorphosed into birds. Then they
ossified, and became boulders.

I have bought a Kodak digital camera—
In my free time, I take pictures of
boulders that strike me: and upload them
to Flickr. I want to record every boulder
in Ladakh.

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