In-Between Worlds At The Early Hours In Leh.
Since I went to sleep around nine o’clock last night it wasn’t surprising that my body was already up at 4:30 AM.
I walked up to take a shower and by five I was ready to leave for the Tsemo Palace on the Namgyal Peak.
It was getting light, but the pleasure was in the quiet.
The dogs were ganging up but peacefully. The grounds were empty and it felt spacious and blissful.
The reward somehow is always connected to doing something uncommon and uncomfortable. Just like waking up before everyone else does, so you can walk into an empty city, like on a stage of a theater set up prepared for the elaborate performance full of actors.
The early hours afford surreal feeling of the other world, the one that we encounter in a dream, because it can’t be operable like this – even though it hold the appearance, but is empty of function.
The reward somehow is always connected to doing something uncommon and uncomfortable.
It feels trippy to walk in a dream and know it. That is called a lucid dream, when a dreamer chooses to direct the events and physical configuration of a dream.
The narrow streets of the old town are like narrow trenches walled by mud that are the walls of the very old buildings. They lure me with surprises, taking through sudden turns opening up to courtyards, or diving under a low ceiling of a portal which has a building sitting above it.
The old town is reeked with decay due to changing ownership of buildings, where it doesn’t make sense for traditional owner to invest money into upkeep of the old structures that are very sensitive to changing climate.
Generally it is a high desert climate that for centuries allowed people of Ladakh to build their houses safely from mud bricks or mud mixed with gravel anywhere. Not anymore and my flight that was cancelled few days ago was an a sign of very unusual weather in the region. This weather softens up the mud walls of the buildings that might cause them to collapse.
The old city of Leh was added to the World Monuments Fund due to the threat of a demise.
Walking in solitude of the early hours in the narrow channels of its streets, it is fascinating to imagine that no one has exact date when this city was established. There is a historic reference that Chinese of Tang dynasty knew of a trade route running into the region around first century of CE.
The maze of tight corners and passages inevitably leads me up the hill and out into an open space below the nine storey high Leh palace, which in turn lays below the iconic remains of Tsemo Castle. Sitting on top of Namgyal Peak (meaning victory) the ruined fort of Namgyal Peak still commands fervent attraction and serves as an archetypal point defining the proud boundary of the city.
The Gon-Khang, a temple of The Guardian Deities along with the Tsemo Namgyal fort ensemble was built by the King Tashi Namgyal who had his time to rule for the last twenty five years of the sixteenth century.
I would appreciate being able to fully convey the sense of being unhinged of space and time finding yourself amidst a confluence of old and modern where boundary of function is yet completely absent at this dawn hour.
And hence there’s a joyful buoyancy of freedom to float in space released from all defining anchors of identity.
Am I a ghost that travels between lives replaying a line of memory? Or have I been lured by a daydream, forgetting that may body is still sitting down somewhere waiting for me to return and take its possession? How can I prove either one to be truer than the other?
Then there’s a person appears coming my way. A bright flowery red shawl covers a stranger’s face. It’s a woman, and I remember at once that I am a man.