Visiting Lumla this past April has been a trip of a lifetime for me. What adventures would be in store, I had no idea but they would be embraced with anticipation and excitement, an open mind and heart.
It started at the Guwahati Airport where we had booked a helicopter flight to Tawang which is only 1 1/2 hours from Lumla only to be told that it had to be cancelled due to bad weather in the mountains. Such is life and Pema La and Siri were not at all surprised as that is an all-to-regular occurrence in the region it seems. Our only other option was to hire a car and driver to take us the first leg of our journey. We passed thru lush tropical countryside with traffic being a mixture of cars, trucks, bikes and ox carts, and colourful family courtyards filled with goats and chickens, and school children in their smart uniforms playing together. Such a wonderful sight and an ever changing one. The style of the homes, the features of the local people, the places of worship were beginning to look less like India and more like Tibet as the day wore on. By nightfall we were well and truly ascending, the air cooler, roads becoming narrower and less populated.
In all it took three full days of traversing on winding gravel, often extremely rutted roads, in places far to narrow for passing oncoming traffic, watching out for boulders, and rushing water in our pathway. The higher we climbed, the fewer opportunities there were to stop for short breaks to stretch our legs and find a little place that could serve us lunch. Our driver however knew just where to take us and we were delighted with his finds. The food was delicious, spicy and nutritious and tasted so different from anything Debbie and I had experienced before. And the hosts were so hospitable. Being in a highly restricted area with much military, seeing and feeding non-Indians would have been a rarity.
At the end of the third day we entered Lumla. Finally. Safely. And to our delight, our whole Bodong Committee was there to greet us as well as our school girls and two caregivers. Such a welcoming sight. We were so happy to meet them face to face instead of by emails and they looked so happy and healthy. I will never forget that.
The next day we went to visit our Bodong School and Nunnery and it is a beautiful sight to behold, even more then the pictures that we have seen for the past three years. Why is that? Possibly because of its location, nestled high in the Himalayas with stunning views but more likely because of its inhabitants; our two caregivers (cook and administrator) and our 14 girls. They have developed a close and loving bond with each other that is evident in watching them perform their tasks, chores and play. The girls are also respectful to their elders, each other and their home which is so evident everywhere you look. All the rooms are so tidy and clean, the kitchen and bathrooms well scrubbed and vegetable gardens weeded. And best of all, they are happy, healthy and doing well at school. What more could we ask for?
It was hard to say goodbye on the last day there. We had bonded with the girls, laughed, talked, sang and listened to them and they are well and truly in our hearts to stay. But they are well looked after by the cook and administrator who live with them and thankfully also a strong dedicated team of five teachers who oversee the workings of our home/school and they are there to help when the need arises. In June, seven new girls will be joining our Tara Bodong “family” in Lumla. These little girls will for the first time be able to have a comfortable and safe home, good food to nourish their bodies, receive loving care and attend school. And our committee will be there to guide and watch over them as they do with the others.
I hope more of our supporters and sponsors take the opportunity to visit them. I know that it will be a life changing experience for all who do and also a renewed commitment and understanding. Until I went, I did not really understand why it took so long to get things done or why it costs so much to do so. Now it makes more sense. And we were able to take the helicopter back to Guwahati too. And guess what? The flight was only 1:10 hours. When we flew over the steep mountains often barely able to make out a dirt path, we realized that that was the road we took and why it took so long to make the journey.
What a wonderful project we are working on and what a marvellous part of the world to be involved in and it is my sincerest wish for you to continue this journey with us.You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow visitors to explore more of what interests them.