We grumbled, disappointed that the teashop was shut. Having walked non-stop for three hours, even reaching out for our bottles for rationed sips of water seemed like an effort. We did rest, though, on makeshift stone benches, while some of us made half-hearted attempts to photograph the cloudless dazzling blue skies and the stark brown hills around us. Only Gurmet Angmo noticed the wilted sunflowers. She got up quietly, filled a plastic bottle from the shallow stream, and watered the plants. The shop wasn’t hers, and neither were the flowers. A day later in Markha village, as we returned from the harvest scene, having taken selfies and videos, done the touristy thing of “helping” villagers, played with rosy-cheeked children, it was Angmo again who saw a calf mooing in desperation, craning its neck to reach its mother’s udder. She went near and coaxed the cow to get closer to the calf, who grasped the mother’s teat eagerly. The cow wasn’t hers and, in fact, neither was the village. You can’t teach such empathy and kindness. But how easily it came to Angmo, a Ladakhi woman and the quietest person in our team of six, that had set out to electrify… Read full this story
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