Some random tid bits:
- On the hockey front:
There is also a lot of hockey drama and politics going on here, something that is both upsetting and inspiring (for different reasons, of course). You will find out more as I catch you up, but be aware that my stories are about 1 week behind because there is so much going on here, and limited internet availability.
- The stars here are absolutely stunning. Venus shines through the sky like a princess cut , brilliant diamond. When I look up at the stars at night, it's almost too beautiful to believe. I feel like I'm in a planetarium.
- I will never get over the fact that donkeys, dzo's (cow/yak hybrid), cows, and dogs roam freely here. Yesterday, a friendly dog came running up to me and I almost clubbed it with my 60-pound backpack. As my closest friends and family know, I'm not much of a dog person (although I'm trying!), and being warned of the dog problem in India, I go on the assumption that every dog has rabies. The gentleman I was with who has lived here for over a decade said this was a friendly dog. Nonetheless, the canine has been warned.
- I had a moment with a donkey earlier today. As I was walking down the street to a guest house I'm staying at tonight, I passed numerous animals. The zus/cows were in a group, and they parted like the Red Sea for me as I came hustling by them with my aforementioned backpack, 2 hockey sticks, a hockey bag, and a grumbling stomach. Being perpetually amused, as I was walking by a row of donkeys (they have a habit of walking in a row, kind of like ducklings), I decided to say something. "Hey", I said in a humble tone as the final donkey passed me. He (sorry, I'm being sexist) turned casually back at me, no doubt curious why this human in an obvious hurry wanted to stop to chat. We had an eye-to-eye exchange for a few seconds, and I'm pretty sure the donkey was disappointed that I didn't stay, or have hay in one of my large bags. Either way, I am amused.
- As I also mentioned, I am staying in a guest house tonight, somewhere I have stayed previously for 2 nights here in Leh. If there is one thing to understand about India and Ladakh, is that patience is a super virtue and that you need to just go with the flow. Fortunately, I do that a little too much when I'm home, but in Ladakh, this is a huge advantage for me. Since I have come to Ladakh (almost 2 weeks already??), I have slept in 5 different places, and only a few times have I been prepared to. Every moment of every day is an adventure. Last night I stayed at a friend's house outside of Leh since we got caught up eating, drinking and chatting with the Canadian High Commission team and the Ladakh Winter Sports Club officials. I have been heavily involved with the hockey going on here in Ladakh (obviously), and travel to and from SECMOL adds up fast, and takes time, especially when I am trying to make it into Leh by 9/9:30 and have a massive problem waking up in the morning. Staying in town last night, and tonight, was by far the most logical thing to do for my schedule. Since showers are an endangered species up here, I don't much care that I've been in the same outfit for days. When in Ladakh!
- I have heard that Ladakh intensifies peoples state of mind. It has been called "Heaven on Earth", as well as "Little Tibet". People can find themselves here, but can also lose themselves here. The more I interact with people in Ladakh, the more apparent the dichotomy of this place is. It's one of the last bastions of Tantric Buddhism, yet many "Buddhists" known nothing about how to practice. The Muslim/Buddhist population has had issues in the past, and can certainly have in the future, but everybody is incredibly friendly. They love foreigners, but resent them equally. Some foreigners that come here fall in love and never leave, others stay and become further outcast. The foreigners here briefly are equally repulsed by the pollution and tough interpersonal adaptations and attracted to the beauty of the Himalayas, and the friendliness of the people. This place can exhaust you, or give you energy. Other than kids at SECMOL stealing my shoes, sandals and flashlight, being served cold samosas at a Punjabi restaurant, and then being denied snacks that I wanted to buy in a Punjabi bakery, Ladakh is somewhere that I plan to come to regularly. They have been incredibly inviting to me. I feel like a hybrid between a foreigner and a local, not quite a Ladakhi, but not as estranged as any Westerner, and I want to make sure that the hockey players of Ladakh receive continual support, since most has come in small waves, outside of the regular tournament with the Canadian High Commission. Ladakh is going to be a staple and stable project of The Hockey Volunteer!
- Up to this point, all pictures taken have been posted at: http://flickr.com/photos/34781538@N08/. The internet is very, very slow here, and since I don't have a freely accessibly connection, uploading them has been a long process. Nonetheless, please check them out. For now there are no descriptions, and every picture taken by me is being posted, even if they're stupid. I also have pictures from some of my Vermont colleagues. Those pictures will be posted as well, so that you can enjoy as much of Ladakh as possible.
- In regards to video, I have so much raw video, and have just begun uploading them to YouTube. Let it be known, I am not a videographer. My production and editing skills are none, and I will be uploading the raw video only. If people wan't to help me edit those videos, please contact me, as I am more than happy to accept the help. I want you to be able to see Ladakh as it is, so once everything is posted, I will provide my link and you can enjoy (or hate) what I have recorded.
- There are many more people that have contributed to Ladakh hockey than I, or you, knew about. In my ignorance and apparent narcissism, I assumed I was the first to come here, and have quickly learned of how many amazing people have preceded me. I want to not only recognize all of them in the near future, but I want to coordinate with everyone that has any connection to Ladakh hockey and form a strong coalition. One person throwing a boulder is nothing compared to an army throwing pebbles. Stay tuned for information on these great people!
- Once again, a special thanks to The North Face in SoHo, NYC for donating the hat that you see me wearing in my pictures, as well as 2 pairs of gloves that have been incredibly helpful. Special thanks to Play it Again Sports in Carle Place, Long Island (as well as East Northport) for donating 6 hockey sticks, a few pucks, a sweet stick, and tape! Special thanks to House of Jerky for providing me with some much-appreciated and incredibly delicious varieties of jerky!
- Super special thanks to everyone that has donated to The Hockey Volunteer and to my parents!
I love this picture...it's become my avatar across most platforms. The kid in the Devils jacket didn't know who the New Jersey Devils are!