July 17, 2016, 1310 hours.
We are on our way to #Lalung now. It’s a quiet, sedate drive, sedate in a peaceful manner, the wind in my hair encouraging me to nod off, the silent, stark mountains with the increasingly frequent sightings of #Shales and #Dolomites bringing me to rapt attention every now and then.
The Spiti meanwhile is languidly serpenting its way around the gorges and valleys, far down below. I suspect its a tributary or a stream that feeds into the bigger Spiti. I have come to realise that in the region and vicinity of a major river, all little streams, brooks, nallahs, tributaries and the like are christened by the name of the river. But they all have their own names, names given in ancient times, names given by the ancestors of the people who have lived here for millennia. The peoples who have ruled these lands at various points in history or were once held the dominant sway, peoples who have fused their ancient beliefs into the newer emerging cultures of peoples that came later, and survived and then coexisted maybe even thrived.
I remember seeing a couple of government information boards at different places on this trip, with the information signed or provided under the authority of some department or commission on Scheduled Tribes. A people or groups of peoples that once ruled lands and are of greater antiquity in custom and culture and therefore closer to our nation’s ancient roots, are today classified as a schedule tribe. One day, the current ruling classes and their peoples, the current city-folk and learned will also pass into history and who knows be at the mercy of the then ruling tribes or classes for their survival and it will then be their turn to be classified.
Of course, in Himachal Pradesh, especially Kinnaur, Spiti, and Lahaul, there are stringent laws and restrictions in place to protect the lands and culture and antiquity of the people and our nation’s heritage.
But I also look at the hydroelectric power projects, the roadworks, the telecom projects and sundry other footprints of modern progress and I see that their footprints and activities are cutting, breaking, mutilating the mountains at some places … am half certain that some measure of fossils, traces of history, flora, and the like are being lost as mountains are being blasted, tunnels are being dug, courses of rivers being altered.
These are just thoughts that are running through my head. They also run through my head when I am in Pune, not in any of the metros though- those don’t have much antiquity left to preserve.
Governments are just people at the end of the day. And like other peoples in other times, each government will do what it believes to be the best course of action.
I guess the advantage in a democracy is that the push and pull of opposing forces slows down everything and filters and sandpapers and grills and investigates and refines and polishes each initiative till it sort of starts making sense in the bigger context of a nation.
Lalung. Such an assuming name for a village and yet so lyrical – it’s beautiful and mellifluous as it rolls off the tongue, with a lilt and a gush of air as it ends in a soft whisper: la-lung.
Lalung. I wonder what I shall discover there..