Spiti-the land that literally means the “The Middle Land”, – the land that divides Tibet and India, is part of the Lahaul-Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh, India. It’s one of my favourite places for various reasons. The culture is fascinating. The barren mountain-scapes are out of this world. Rivers and glacial melts feed the region; it’s snowbound for part of the year and hard to get to. Of course, that means it’s also barely populated.
The state of Himachal Pradesh is a prominent fruit producing state. Apples, cherries, plums, and peaches from here are found in corner stores all over India. The Spiti valley on the other hand technically falls in the rain shadow. The south-west monsoons that hit the rest of India for three full months scarcely reach the Spiti valley. And yet they’re growing apples. And they’re keeping bees to pollinate their orchards. Sparrows, that are have more or less disappeared from our cities seem to have settled in these orchards and are feasting on apples that are just beginning to appear on the trees. It’s amazing. Is this improved irrigation practices or climate change? I’ll have to go back to answer that.
Can’t help myself when it comes to these three mutts. The loves of my life – Chingoo, Kajal and Chokli.
There are moments when Chingoo’s killer instinct surfaces and then he surprises us with his gentleness. Once a troop of 3understandsus monkeys decided to party on our tin roof, antagonizing the dogs to no end. I let them lose; Chingoo went berserk. Next thing I knew, he was pursuing the simians round and round the house with an infant monkey in his mouth; with me yelling “Drop it” in hot pursuit while wondering if the last Rabies shot I took was still valid. Things quickly turned around. It was the turn of the monkeys to act tormented. They screeched the place down and finally, Chingoo let go, of ‘baby-in-the-mouth’, without so much as a scratch. Reunited with their kidnapped ilk, the hysterical primates promptly did the disappearing act in a blur of grey.
[Chingoo and Kajal] Except for delivery guys, Chingoo takes kindly to humans. He used to take it upon himself to escort dog-friendly folk to their homes or on their walks. He returned home one day, brutalised, the bone on his leg showing through the wound and two of his teeth missing. He was pretty shook up by the experience and wouldn’t leave my side for days. It took him a while to get over his fear of people. Perhaps, ‘absolute’ freedom is not such a great scheme in the long run.
Before I pour myself a coffee in the morning, I sometimes find myself grabbing my camera as I just can’t ignore the latest arrival atop the Deodar tree outside my porch. Over the past couple of years, I have seen and heard multiple species of birds creating a ruckus with langurs sometimes foraging in the surrounding oaks or yellow throated pine martens scrambling up pines in search of bird eggs and fledglings. Hope you enjoy the photographs. They’re not the best quality because I’m way slower than my flighty subjects. While the majority of shots are taken from my porch I have also included photographs of birds from surrounding areas. Do let me know if I got the names wrong. I’m no expert!