September 22, 2013

Crossing the Himalayas through memory to Ladakh

Lesley Downer retraces a journey she made 30 years ago to one of the most unspoiled, remote and welcoming corners of the world

I’m in a small van careering along a rough and narrow road beside a rushing river with brightly painted temples along its banks and craggy peaks towering overhead. We’re traveling in the prescribed Indian fashion — drive as fast as you can and hope for the best or, better still, pray.

One of our group jokes that the driver risks developing RSI (repetitive strain injury) from pressing his horn. Swerving around a hairpin bend directly above a ravine, we overtake at high speed, the wheels skidding along the fatal edge. Rain slicks the road and cloud hangs low in the valleys. I shut my eyes. It’s better not to look.