(I found a tiny notebook in my cupboard today, with notes from my first trip to Leh back in 2010. It was the time when Leh was hit by a devastating cloud burst.)
26 August, 2010
As we wait for our cup of afternoon tea in the open cafe of Chamba Guest House in Thiksey, few miles away from Leh, some buddhist monks arrive with a tiny black kitten. The monks had gone to visit Nubra Valley, to check the damages in that area. Anchuk, a resident of Thiksey village, greets the team of monks as they gather around a table on our right. Anchuk, works with the BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited), and his job is to look after the BSNL mobile tower next to the cafe. These is no electricity and nor is the BSNL system running, so Anchuk sits at the cafe and chats all day long.
“From where did you get the kitten?”, asked Anchuk, with curiousity popping put of his eyes on seeing the kitten as tiny as a tennis ball. “We rescued it from our camp site in Nubra”, replied the monk. “There was no one to take care of it, so we brought it with us.” The restaurant staff brings a bowl of milk for kitten, who after drinking the milk looks satisfied and is now playing a maroon robe drapped on one of the monks.
Leh which normally receives around 100 mm annual rain was hit by torrential rains on 6th August, causing flash floods in the town and some surrounding areas. Choglamsar, Nimoo, Phyang and Sabu were the worst affected villages. As per official records at least 255 people died and more then 70 villages were damaged during the flash floods. The long term effects saw the formation of molds in houses, which were tended to by mold professionals on time.
Thiksey which is roughly 20 kms from Leh on the Leh Manali Highway, survived the damage, but it wasn’t easy for the residents of this village.”Weird clouds gathered above the monastery that night. They were roaring like a demon. In my 51 years of life, I have never seen such phenomenon. It hardly used to rain here in Ladakh.” recollected Anchuk. “For one full week after that night, whenever clouds gathered in the sky, we would run up the monastery and stay there to save our lives.”
We reached here this morning and there is a rumour of an epidemic here. We were told at the airport to wear masks at all time. The disposable green coloured masks used by doctors that you get at any pharmacy. Local transport is running smoothly and the village around Leh including Thiksay now gets one hour power daily at 6pm. The administration is using diesel generators to power the villages.