Wednesday 4th August
Today we went with Stanzin to the apricot orchard. The air is very heavy. There was huge thunder and lightening last night. We took various tins and plastic containers to put the apricots in and Stanzin carried a homemade wicker basket that fitted on her back. It had four sides and tapered to the bottom. Each side was about 16 inches long at the top, and the depth of the basket was about 2 feet. It was lined with a modern, woven flour sack. The frame of the basket was constructed from two U shaped willow branches and attached to them were stong flat ropes to go around the shoulders and across the top of the chest. Tsering Angchok had made the baskets.
Life in Ladakh, especially in Tackmachik, is very 'human scale'. These baskets hold an amount of apricots that takes one person about two or three hours to gather. This time is enough to ensure one is not sick of picking apricots! The weight of the filled basket is just enough for one person to carry. The basket is built to the size of the body. If it were in the West, we would make bigger baskets so we could carry more at one time - so it would save us making so many trips. But it would be a struggle for us to carry them home. They would take longer to fill, so we would be sick of the job before we filled the basket. We would have made life harder and unpleasant for ourselves! We would have created unnecessary stress in our quest for bigger and better.
In the afternoon I went to the Gompa (monastery) It is near the entrance road to the village, roughly half an hours walk from Kaptopa house. Tackmachik is beautiful. It is on the left bank of the Indus. It is a green oasis created by the villagers. The road is high up and sweeps in to the the village. The fields are thin and curved and stepped, following the line of the river. As I walked along I could see three men up on the side of a mountain. They had been blasting out a channel for a three mile long canal which was to run between Tackmachik and a neighbouring village. A man waved for me to pass. It was safe to walk in front of the area where the men were working and take a short cut over the foot of the mountain to the Gompa.
The Gompa is a small rectangular, white washed building with a smaller anteroom extension on the left. At the front door is a wide platform with five steps leading upwards. On each side of the double front door are full length wooden framed windows. I looked in.
Along the whole back wall was a wooden framed glass case containing beautiful gold Buddhas. In the middle was an especially big statue. The statues were placed about waist height and reached nearly to the ceiling. There was nothing else in the room. There was a deep red carpet on the floor, and two wooden T shaped decorated beams stood on either side of the main Buddha, supporting the roof. It was amazing. Out in the middle of nowhere this small, ornate jewel of a temple.
I walked down the steps from the entrance and leisurely looked in the windows of the ante room, as my eyes focused, my brain registered the most frightening, wrathful, demonic face I have ever seen - and there was an almighty
B O O M ! !! ! ! !
The ground shook, I felt the noise reverberating in my sternum. Oh Buddha, I thought! The terrible face, and the terrible noise - I nearly had a heart attack!
I caught my breath and thought, this is not the place to be just now, I'll head back to the village. As I walked down the path it occured to me I hadn't left an offering - and considering the power that was evidenced as I had gazed upon Vajrapani, I thought it would be prudent to do so. I turned around and went back to the front door. Looking in at the benevolent Buddha I left a little, new apricot and some water. I turned to the window of the room housing the dark blue face. Bending to leave the offering, my eyes focused again on the terrifying visage -
B O O M ! ! ! ! ! !
The temple shook, stoor and dust filled the air, stones rained down about my head. A small shrine high on a jagged edge above me shook, it's prayer flags waving crazily. The ground below my feet shook. The sound consumed the space around me and reverberated from mountain to mountain echoing again and again in the dust filled sky. It was frightening and overwhelming. The sound and the sight were one and the same. Twice I had looked upon the terrible face and twice the terrible roar had filled the air. I know who's in charge around here, I thought - and legged it.