Tomando mate en el techo del mundo

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While in Leh l met a Mexican-Israeli cycle-tourist and mate enthusiast, by the name of Moy, who was interested in trying some off-road touring (and sharing the kilo of mate l was carrying around – a gift from Simon in Sebastopol because l had been more or less living on the stuff while we worked overtime to get as much done as possible on our treehouse project before l left).  He waited patiently while l cobbled together my equipment, and when l finally had everything strapped onto my bike we dragged ourselves out of Leh and the clutches of convenience and headed towards the town of Korzog on the shores of Tso Moriri on a shakedown cruise for me and an intro to extreme mtn bike touring for him.

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Zanscar – India bound

SAMSUNG

The strangest thing about being in India is not speaking the language.  While English is one of the country’s official languages, the common person’s grasp of it is crude at best – Hindi being the real ‘lingua-franca’ in this decidedly large and polyglot nation. Having spent rather a lot of time in Latin America, the sights/sounds/smells of the poverty and improvisation of the so called ‘developing world’ l find familiar, even comforting.  So while l felt welcomed by the din and squalor of the seething mass of humanity that is New Dehli, l was (and still am put off) by my inability to communicate.

My Spanish language skills honed by years of playing small town 20 questions, wherein the questions were always the same.  Order and phrasing varied regionally and individually, accustoming me to the nuances of what’s going on around me.  Even when people are speaking Portuguese l can understand about half of what they say – and certainly get the gist.  But here l’m continually at a loss, this being my first time in India and indeed out of the Western hemisphere. Continue reading…