5 October 2005

Leh and the Shit Pit

Leh is an interesting town. Looks earthy brown - like the old Alladin game that we grew up playing. Most of the houses are built out of mud. Ten minutes of steady rain will wash away half the city.

We saw foreigners flooding every corner of Leh. As a result, much like Goa and Kovalam, everything was a bit more expensive in Leh than what we'd been used to till then in the trip.

We saw bikers everywhere. The centrally located German bakery (one of many) is a nice social hangout place. People laze around, watch little kids wait for school buses, heads turn to the frequent roar of Enfields... things are always chilled out. No one's hurried. Deadlines don't exist.

We Indian bikers were exceptions. The number of foreigners who do this gruelling bike trip, in what must be completely alien territory and an unknown tongue, is really amazing. It's the free spirit which inspires me so strongly. No attachments, just an open mind and absolute trust on instincts.

Back to Leh town, the water problem is so severe that restaurants force people to buy bottled water. Securing enough water to wash all the guests was a monumental task for the granny who hosted us. At her place, I came across another first...

I was led to the first floor, to a tiny, dark cubicle - at best 1 meter wide- which contained two bricks for footrests and a hole in the floor which opened to a 20 ft. drop down into the Shit Pit. I heard that they have these dry toilets in most villages, but that was the first time that I experienced it. It was weird, the floor sloped in towards the hole from all directions. So I was very concerned about my Yellow Bag (don't ask me why I took it in, it's ummmm personal!). And the water bottle; I kept having this dream of the bottle rolling down the hole. Anyway, after I succesfully negotiated the 'pitfalls', I ran down excitedly and shared my new find with Joy and Gopal. I learnt that periodically, the Pit is cleaned manually.