I’d spent some time with a couple
of ladies who were sitting by the prayer wheel in Tia Village Ladakh. Initially they didn’t want her photo taking and that was fine. I chatted with them via my guide to learn a bit more about their lives. The lady in black had walked to the village approx 55 years earlier, when she got married, and had barely left since.
She sent her grandson or perhaps great grandson up a walnut tree to get me a fresh snack and her son went off to make chai as other women, hearing of my visit and began to emerge. I was intrigued by them all and their lives but soon, on chatting with them, my guide burst out laughing, I asked him what had been said.
They had asked if my hair was real.
I told them it was. It hadn’t occured to me that they wouldn’t have seen (albeit) faded red hair before.
Then they asked if it was a real colour, I told them it was (well, as near as I can get to what it used to be anyway).
Then one of the ladies, getting a little bolder, gently touched my hand. What are these? she asked, as the other ladies moved a little closer.
Freckles, I replied and grinned at the guide, good luck with that translation!
She looked confused, then asked, do they mean you’re ill?
I smiled and replie
d, that no, they were just a part of my colouring.
She then came out with
What? What did she say. I asked.another statement and my guide laughed out loud once more.
It turns out, she had said, ‘What a strange creature she is, where has she come from?’
I laughed and thought about that for a while. We often think it is us having the experience when traveling, but do we stop to think of the impression we are making on the people whose homes we are visiting?
They then asked why I had wanted to take photographs of them, they were old and wrinkled and I was young (it’s relative!) and pretty. I said it was because they were beautiful.
One of the ladies then went back to her house and came back having done her hair and asked if I’d take her photo. I made doubly sure it was okay before complying. Then they all joined in.
We are often so concerned with ourselves when we travel, but do we ever stop to think about the impact that we are having on the local communities? Something to think about.