Friday, August 21, 2015

The life and times of a volunteer

The first time came across Ecosphere, I didn’t think that I would actually go and volunteer in a remote place like Spiti. But my curiosity got the better of me, and I went ahead and did it.
Me with a Cow !

I was supposed to report at Kaza, and it seemed nothing like I had expected. Partly because I was having a terrible headache at that time, and partly because it indeed was nothing like I had expected. In my head Kaza was a quiet and remote town with very few tourists. Whereas in reality, it was not quite quiet. Little did I know that I would be so attached to this place in the coming month, that I would not want to leave.
I volunteered at the Sol Café which is a cozy little hangout place in the Main Bazaar where you can read, play music, have delicious coffee and snacks, and chill. Every day, I used to meet new people from all over the world, some were interesting, some were eccentric, some were crazy, some just wouldn’t stop talking, some just wouldn’t talk. I will always cherish the chats I had with some wonderful people.
My workplace :)

While working at the café, I got the opportunity to work and interact with two great souls, Nawang and Lobzang. We used to goof around and chill when there was no customer in the café. Everything that used to go wrong (like bursting of the espresso maker!), used to be a laughter riot with these guys around.  There was never a dull moment while working with them. Every night I used to look forward to the next day at the café. Every day used to bring in new kinds of travelers. Every day was a new learning experience. Alongside the café, I sometimes also took the responsibility of a little puppy named Zema, who was attacked by another dog. Taking care of the puppy was a treat. By the end of my stay, I was so attached to her that I almost cried when I was leaving.  
Furry little Zema :)

The beautiful and treacherous Spiti river flows in front of the Ecosphere guest house. It was my dream to be able to camp by the river. I had even rented a tent from Ecosphere for free(camping equipment and mountain bike are free for the volunteers). But some higher power kept me from doing it. Whenever I used to get ready to set out for the river, the clouds used to thunder, telling me not to go there. But I did have some wonderful outdoor experiences while I was in Spiti. I trekked with an American photographer from Langza to Demul. It was really great to take in the sublime sights and sounds of Spiti valley while trekking. Breathtaking views of streams, galloping horses and grazing yaks will always be treasured. While on the trek, we stayed in Home-stays. Getting to stay and interact with local families was an experience of a lifetime. Cozy sitting areas and even cozier bedrooms made the whole trek really worth it. I was also lucky enough to visit the majestic Kee monastery on the day of their colorful annual festival where the Lamas put up a delightful show. Looking at Kee monastery from outside was like looking at a picture come to life. Spiti will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the first place I travelled to, solo.

This needs no caption

In the end, I’d like to thank Ishita for making my stay pleasant and memorable. Working with her was really enjoyable. Thanks to her, I now have a new name: Giant Jatta. I look forward to working with Ecosphere again. All in all, it was an enriching experience that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. :)
About the Author: Mayank is a recent graduate from RJIT, Gwalior who volunteered at the Sol Café this July. He is extremely funny and we had a blast having him over!

1 comment:

  1. Spiti really is surreal ! Was fortunate to be a part of one of Ecosphere's programs earlier :)