Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

It’s off to Ladakh, northern India

I think it’s rather symbolic to write on Income Tax Day, April 15, as I watch my money drain out of what’s left of my investments like blood from a freshly-inflicted wound. But, you say, at least you have investments. And you believe in living simply, so what’s the beef? But the question keeps arising: how can you travel so much if you’re not rich. Hey, folks, read my blog and you’ll see. I won’t have a car, so no high gas prices. I’ll pay $10/night for room, meals included, and I won’t be tempted to run into NYC to feed my theater addiction. (Only two plays this month…MacBeth and 39 Steps. I’m recovering.) And as you know, I’m a pretty good bargainer when it comes to treks and jeep rides into the mountains. I’ll let you know how I fare as I go along.

That was as far as I got in April, which brings me to May 2nd as I prepare to run out the door to catch my 19-hour flight to Delhi. Nineteen hours? Are you crazy? No, I’m going by way of Chicago which…you guessed it…gives me a very good price. What’s a little sleep when you get to see the windy city for an hour.

A capsule of this past month would include the very sad fact that Dith Pran, the lovely Cambodian journalist/photographer made famous as the central character in The Killing Fields, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 65. I spent three hours talking with him two years ago when he took my picture for a New York Times profile, and we connected over photos I had taken at Siem Reap near Angkhor Wat, his Cambodian home. His vision to end future holocausts and bring people together will live on, which he said on his deathbed, “would make my soul very happy.” He also said that one killing fields is one too many. A wonderful human being.

Daughter Cary returned after fourteen months in Nepal, Tibet, and northern India. She was there during the height of the Tibetan protests against Chinese oppression of their homeland and the fiery episodes plaguing the “torturous” journey of the Olympic torch. Her movies are inspiring—crowds of monks and civilians marching with candles, very similar to the scenes we saw last March in Dharamsala, and speeches near holy sites in Kathmandu. The papers are full of pictures and stories about the contentious crowds along the torch’s path, and I can only hope that this time the Chinese are serious about making some changes…if they do actually talk with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. Yes, hope springs eternal.

On May 5th I’ll fly from Delhi to Ladakh, the highest, most remote and most sparsely populated region in India, close to Pakistan and Tibet. It’s cut off by snow for six months of the year and will just be coming into spring when I arrive. The Ladakis practice the purist form of Tibetan Buddhism and some say the monks have been meditating there from three centuries B.C. I can’t wait to meet these people and tell you more.

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PROTESTS BY TIBETANS IN LHASA

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1 Comment

  1. Jon Pollack

    Meg,

    I am concerned about you since the earthquake. Are you ok?

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