Mom told us a way to the Sankar Gompa,
“You go up, up, up beside water, at bridge right [hear the trilled r?]; follow path on on, other way [hand gesture left] go and go little more, then get!”
With this description, even given with her signature smiling nature, we of course had little hope of actually finding the gompa. But we enjoy exploring lost. We always find a way to what we need, if not what we sought.
We started through the local warrens of walled compounds and cow enclosures, wood yards, tool storages and clothes lines. Dodging the ever-present cow pies, some fresh, not yet picked up and stacked on the walls to finish drying for winter fuel. The snowmelt is picking up and many of the ditches run over; sandals sans socks are always a good choice.
We found the main stream, clear glacier water falling over rounded polished granite, stones with increasing power, still contained by garden walls showing damage from flooding. The banks were green with grass and fragrant with mint. Claire said the grazing cows had minty breath.
We rounded a bend where the stream narrowed and the banks widened and saw people washing clothes, and bodies. Naked little boys washed and then ran rolling bicycle tires with sticks. Mothers smiled and scrubbed carpets, “juley” as we passed. Sunday is laundry day in Leh.
Others worked scything hay from the verges of a grain field, hauling to dry for winter. They paused under streamside willows to have tea and savouries at mid day.
At the gompa all was quiet. Flowers and bees. Whitewashed walls and bright door curtains. We circled chortens, clockwise, accompanied by a shaggy black dog. Another dog lay by a gate, not guarding it as it allowed me to open the gate for our companion.
At a red prayer wheel, we each made several turns, thinking of family members, friends and people we know in distress, people half a globe away, for now. It made us feel good. Perhaps it was the thinking of people we care for, or the repetition or the small bell that rang each revolution; or the day, the smiling people at happy work, scent of mint and ripening grain, meditation of flowing water, all; who can know?