Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Visit With Dorje and His Mom.

Chantale and Dorje's lovely mother. She's wearing the NYC baseball cap that Chantale had just gifted her.

Original Post Date: July 4, 2017.

Without a doubt, the most memorable part of today was spending time with Dorje and his mom in their family home where his mother treated us to some home made curd, freshly brewed butter tea and chapati.

Dorje took us to his home after a quick visit to Stok Palace and the giant golden Buddha statue located nearby Stok Monastery.

Dorje parked the car on the other side of a closed gate.  On the other side was his home.  The exterior design was a traditional Tibetan building.  The dirt path cut through a field that looked to just be grass and wild flowers in bloom.  Somehow I was expecting to see a large vegetable garden à la Hotel Kidar.



Upclose, the house looked big in size.  Most certainly bigger than my considerably more modestly sized 3 bedroom, two bath house!  It was hard to escape the fact that even from Dorje's front yard, you have magnificent views of the snow capped mountains.


Before entering, we took off our shoes and then followed Dorje inside to what I would describe as the living room.  It was very spacious room.  A raised platform, covered in thick carpets ran alongside two walls of the room.  Cushions provided a nice design element and comfort in case the carpeting was not thick enough for your bottom.


The windows opened out on to the garden.  If I lived here, you would find me occasionally just sitting on the platform, looking out at the view and day dreaming.


Alongside another two walls were cabinets and shelves filled with dishes, serving ware, pots and pans.  There was enough of everything to entertain a small village!  Looking around the spacious room and the belongings in it, it dawned on me that relatively speaking, Dorje and his family live quite well off in Stok.  Chantale and I joked that it's not wonder he refused to stay in the same Tibetan homestay that the three of us bunked down in at Pangong Tso - he's used to much more comfortable accommodations!



We asked where his wife and children were and he said "Leh".  I had been hoping to at least meet his children but the youngest is too young to go to school yet so I was left a bit confused by his answer.  Did he live in Stok or did he live in Leh?  Maybe only his mother lives here??  In any case, no matter as it's really none of my business.  I'm just curious.

Chantale and I took our spots by the window and Dorje served us some butter tea in some very nice china cups.  He was definitely enjoying playing host especially when he realized how much we admired his home.  He told us his father built it.  Butter tea....oh....not my favorite but I sipped it out of courtesy.



Dorje's mom joined us.  She's such a sweet lady.  If only we could verbally communicate and tell her about all the days we've spent with her son and how much we have appreciated his taking care of us.  Chantale noticed that Dorje's mom had a baseball cap on.  So, Chantale took it off and put her NYC cap onto Dorje's mom's head.  She tried to give it back to Chantale but Chantale told her it was her gift.  Small gesture but I'd like to think that it warmed Dorje's mom's heart.


We also got cups of regular tea, with milk added.  I guess in case the butter tea was not to our liking.  That was very thoughtful of them to do this.


We also got served some home made curd i.e., yogurt, made from the milk of the cows that the family owns.  The curd was served alongside some home made chapati.  They eat very simply in Ladakh.


We didn't want to overstay our welcome.  I think that the fact that we really couldn't have any sort of conversation with either Dorje or his mom made it pointless of us to stay long.  So, after a few bites of food and a few sips of drink, we decided it was time to leave.  We gave our thanks to Dorje's mom for her hospitality and on the way out of the house, stopped to put on our shoes.


As we stepped outside the front door, we heard the moo....and moo....and moo.  The sound was coming from somewhere below our feet.  So, we headed down to investigate.  Inside a small paddock was a calf.  Sweet thing.  Chantale could not resist petting him.  Then from above, we heard Dorje's mom repeat shout out, "chapati, chapati".



Chantale thought Dorje's mom was telling her the calf's name was Chapati and so she started calling the animal that but in fact, Dorje's mom wanted to toss down bits of the bread for Chantale to feed to the calf.  Chantale put two and two together once bits of bread started raining down from above.


Of course, she had to torture the poor thing, making it strain it's neck out as far as it could to get the bite of bread. 


Our moment with the cute l'il calf over and it was back on the dirt path to the car.  After spending even just a very short time here, I can understand why Dorje lives here.  It's his sanctuary.


Now, it's time to head back to the big city.  Leh, here we come!