At the End of the Habitable World…

…there is satellite tv, a German bakery, an English beer shop, and a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven. There are internet cafes with names like “Om Shanti” offering Lavazza cappuccino and extreme sports. There are also cows, apple orchards, temples, and shawls, shawls, shawls. Almost every other storefront advertises pashmina, angora, and yak wool. It’s a good thing (for me) that the rupee is tanking while I’m here!

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We’re staying in Naggar in the house of our guide and driver, Brighu. He lives with his 2 siblings, in a modern-style house right next to an old, traditional house where they lived until 5 years ago. It’s all built without nails, with thick walls layering wood beams and rocks, so that it shifts in an earthquake and doesn’t fall down. It’s in a bit of a shambles at the moment, since they haven’t been living in it and it got a leak in the roof. They are hoping to refurbish it and rent it out as a guest house. I took lots of pictures, and we joked that of course I came to the Himalayas and instead of taking pictures of mountains, I’m taking pictures of piles of rotting wood.

 

This morning Brighu brought out some ancient, well-worn wool cards and an equally ancient takhli, which his father used to use. He says that he doesn’t know how to spin anymore, but when he was a kid they didn’t have any work to do in the winter, so they would sit around the tandoor and spin.

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Internet access will be spotty from here on out, so I’ll probably type as I go and then upload stuff in batches as I have the opportunity. Same for pictures of rotting wood (and yes, I am taking some pictures of the mountains too).

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