I sit in my Domkhar homestay with the TV blaring a Bollywood dance video, girls dancing in hardly any clothes and men wearing expensive watches, driving fast cars, and sunglasses. Such a drastic difference from the setting I'm sitting in. The 3-year old boy, Rigzin, is sitting and watching with innocent eyes while eating processed white bread and drinking butter tea. His mom is sitting on the dirt floor cooking thukpa over a wood-burning stove. The room is sparsely decorated--two posters: one of a beach with palm trees and the other, a herd of wild horses running though a river with the moon rising in the background. In between the two is a prayer wheel that is in constant motion. Constant motion. Is there any way to stop this powerful force of modernization that has seemed to be set into motion reaching even the most remote villages in Ladakh? The ancient colliding with the new? Surrounded by rocky mountains with little contact with the outside world--how could all the dancing, bright lights, money, and music not be appealing to these little innocent 3-year old eyes? If only they could understand my language...they would hear how much our culture is speeding up, so much that we often have little time to sit down as a family to eat dinner or just enjoy the silence of being together. Once the grandparents walked in, the TV was switched off.
I can almost see their traditions disappearing before my eyes. Will there still be cute, old Ladakhi ladies in their traditional dress wandering the streets of Leh when this next generation grows old? I hope my fear is not right. One of the students was talking about how much the Tibetans were protecting their culture, fighting for it to survive ever since they were invaded by the Chinese. Maybe because the cultural destruction of TIbet is so apparent. But the same thing seems to be happening here but only slowly, slowly, almost invisibly. So slowly that I'm not sure if many are able to see the modern creeping its way in and pushing the traditional out. I pray for this culture to survive the test of time.