This is a poem that Sue wrote. Sue is a Volunteer from Whales who stays at the Campus for a whole year.

Most of the poem must have been inspired by her visits in Photoksar. Photoksar is a remote village where Sue went twice to support the teachers at the school. The second time I went with her for some days. There we were invited to a festival which celebrated the inauguration of a new prayer wheel. The villagers took lots of chang, the local beer which is made of fermented barley, and tsampa, the roasted barley flour, with them. Then they just sat down in the grass or danced to the sound of the ladakhi drums and pipe, which were played by musicians on one end of the rectangle we sat in. All in all it was an experience where you felt like having jumped back in time a century. She also refers to this festival.

Some more translations will be necessary for the proper understanding. Khatags are white shawls which are traditionally made out of silk, but are now produce with some plastic fabric. They are used to express your respect for someone. Chappal is a Hindi word for flip-flops. Acho means elder brother, Achay elder sister, nono is the younger brother and nomo the younger sister. You say Don-le when you offer food or something to drink to someone. It is used a lot by the welcoming Ladakhis! ‚O mane padme hum‘ is a mantra which refers to the lotus blossom. It calls for protection and honours the gods and the beauty of life.






Frozen boned friends with sun dried smiles

Mobble happily over the miles

To make their first turn of the wheel by the fields

The first of its prayers for waving green fields.

Red/gold wheel rumbles on as gray river ice tumbles on

Brown clouds of tsampa and chang in the sun

Dance to surna and daman with an Age old song


Welcome green peas, yellow capped lama, each other,

White Khatags for honoured guests

That’s you, my brother.


Cool Thinlas. Moody selfie, skinny jeans

Aims to be like them, long out of his teens

Sooner than he thinks with life long friends

Laughing and dancing to his mantra’s end

Upstream, above the village school

The throbbing beat of mp3s rule

A rave with salt tea A hindi rap beat

Yet still young and old On the grassy banks meet.


Together they move

A time proved whole

Together they work and dance and feel

Learning to love like all kids should

To sing to the plough yak To work with wood

To dance in tiny chappals over icy rocks

Down for the water Up for the goats

Care for old ones and babies, Acho and Achay

To live with loss, welcome, Don-le, don-le.


Ama and children house the goats in the fold

He sleeps off the barley brew

Both keeping a hold

On the tie to the land

Deep down in the soil Deeper than family, such turmoil

To nonos and nomos when a parent dumps ‚em

From sunny heights

To a cold, dark dungeon.

To bravely battle, with tortured minds

Sand blasting monsters

In the western wind.


So things change and remain the same

As people and planet play their fames

Glaciers and time recede two thousand years

No waters kiss roots                        Just tears

As when Mams and Dads of full Dolu

were forced down

Down to the valley and into the town

To move their feet to a different drum

Om mane padme hum.


Sue Ball

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