By: Staff Writer, 25 Jan, 2019
Stanzin’s a true-blue Ladakh boy, and you’ll know it when you meet him. His love for his land is evident when you speak to him, and he loves sharing the place and its many stories with intrepid travellers. It’s one of the reasons why he’s hosting an epic winter adventure to Ladakh this February – read all about it here!
We spoke to Stanzin about growing up in Ladakh, travelling and sharing his world with others! His inputs have been edited for clarity.
White Collar Hippie: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Stanzin Namgyal: I spent my early childhood in Ladakh with my grandmother, until school, field projects and job assignments took me to different parts of the country. I returned home only after finishing my masters.
That time was full of enriching experiences and humble and interesting people. Back here in Ladakh, life happens as it always does. I love the pace at which this township works. There is only as much thinking one can/should do when your days are short, and the stories are many. I feel blessed to be able to do what I love doing, and living in a place I love and care for.
WCH: For most of us, Ladakh is this awesome place we go to for an epic holiday. Tell us a bit about what it’s like actually growing up and living in Ladakh?
SN: Like most of us, I lived in many places like tents, huts, dorms, farm-stays, couches, hammocks, bunk beds, flatbeds and barsatis, and all of them as warm and accepting as homes usually are.
Ladakh for me (beyond being home) is a small indigenous community of around 70,000 people. Despite living in the harshest of terrains, we are totally self-sufficient. Amazing local knowledge systems were found back then that we call our cultural heritage today.
I think there are lots of stories in Ladakh that go beyond the mighty mountains and the high-altitude lakes, and I am glad I get to share them with travellers from around the world!
WCH: What’s your favourite thing about winters? Don’t you get tired of all the snow?
SN: Personally, I think winters are the best!
The mornings are quiet with a frozen stillness to them. There are only few people around, working only for a few hours a day and wishing for the sun to be closer. Winters also changes the landscape and brings out the rawness of the place. The green is gone, and the white glaze of heavenly snow purifies the land and its people.
WCH: What makes you want to share your home and your life with travellers?
SN: I think travel opens you to people and experiences. One of the best things about working the season is meeting travellers from around the world. They bring with them a part of the world they come from. You take some, you give some!
WCH: What are some of your favourite travel memories from the past few years?
SN: There are many trips, moments and adventures that takes me places expecting for more. I love Uttrakhand, specifically the ridge of Kasar Devi (the Machu Picchu of India). The place has an amazing energy and veteran travellers like Bob Dylan, The Thurman’s, Shunyata Baba, Rabindranath Tagore, The Beatles and Swami Vivekanand visited this place more than once – some lived here for years! That’s a special place for me, apart from Varanasi.
Varanasi is special in its own chaotic way. The music and the unanimous acceptance of death as a journey here comes straight from folklore. When you are in Varanasi, try the kiwi lassi at Blue Lassi behind Manikarnika Ghat. Also, as a photographer, Varanasi is a heaven for street photography.
WCH: What’s one thing in Ladakh that you don’t want to share with anyone else?
SN: Well. There isn’t much that I won’t want to share about this place… it’s more like with whom you like to share. In the recent past, I have met a few travellers who are not interested in knowing the place and learning from new experiences. I find it difficult to have a conversation with them, and nobody enjoys that.
WCH: What’s one thing you never travel without?
SN: My books, camera and diaries…
Stanzin’s leading an Incredible Journey to experience Ladakh in the winter from February 16 – 23. Find out more about it here!