Monday, July 25, 2011

The Children of Hanupatta and Kanji

Most places you travel in India you'll come across a curious child or two. Typically, the children approach you and we've found that they really just want to interact a little, have their picture taken, and most importantly, see their image on the screen. It's really quite a pleasant experience. Ladakh was no exception.
Following Rule #1: always let them see the picture
At camp outside the village of Hanupatta, a roving gang of boys approached us. Usually, a roving gang is up to no good. These were nice kids. So nice, in fact, that when we gave them a package of cookies the oldest took control and rationed out two or three cookies per kid and tried to return the remaining food. Without taking any for himself. We assured him it was fine for him to take some as well. These kids were also no exception to the "you're how old?" double take we found ourselves making when asking how old the kids were. They claimed to be between ten and thirteen. I would have cut three years from each of the kids' responses.
The children of Hanupatta
On the final night in camp in the village of Kanji, the campsite was "the" place to be in town. As such, our campsite was swarmed with the village children for most of our stay. My favorite kid was a young monk that first tried to endear himself to us by acting cute and trying to sell us a snail fossil and a geode looking rock. The monk was sixteen. He didn't look a day over eleven. Once he realized we weren't the suckers, we seemed to take an interest in the strange rituals we performed in camp.
The children of Kanji
First up was the daily yoga routine. Since I had been banned from yoga a few nights prior for making too many jokes, Glenn, Lindsay, and Judith took their familiar positions on a blue tarp and started a series of stretches. Quickly the children gathered next to them and quizzically watched the strange white people in strange poses. Then something else happened. A few started to imitate the poses. Before you knew it, the ancient art of yoga had been exported from India and reimported to a small village in one of its northern states.
Imitation is flattery
After the imitation yoga session, Lindsay and Judith decided to see if the kids would imitate something else: padddycake (or least a variant thereof). They sat opposite one another and started to clap their hands and, in English, describe in songlike fashion what they were doing (i.e., "Down, together, left, together, right, together, down"). Slowly but surely the kids gathered around and the older girls sat down next to them and started to imitate. Glenn even got the young monk to try it out with him.

The next ten to fifteen minutes was just kids having fun playing games. A couple of the elder women from the village, whom we suspected to be grandparents, sat close and looked on with silent approval. The entire scene made for one of the more memorable moments of the trip.

As the paddycake was coming to a close, one of the young girls leaned over to Lindsay and asked, "Why just one song?" Apparently, they were confused why they just were chanting, "Down, together, left, together..." and were ready to move to more complex moves. Next time we'll have to add the baker's man.


  1. So very cool. Great photos! Thanks for sharing this memorable part of your journey!

  2. Lovely kids and pictures. Also awesome photography.