The Himalayas of India:  Ladakh and Srinagar, Summer 2013 - Does India Have the Friendliest Cities in the World?



India 2013 - The Indian Himalayas of Ladakh and Kashmir


Does India have the Friendliest Cities in the World?
For the last two trips, I've begun my India Virtual Photo Albums with an essay on the positive progress of India, which you may see for 2005 and 2008 "Why Do You LIke India So Much?". This time, we'll discuss large cities.

People in big cities have a reputation for hurrying too much, being inured to the problems and woes of others, for being rude and inconsiderate.

But in many respects, India flies in the face of that.

New Delhi built a beautiful, modern Metro since my last visit in 2008. It was new to me. However, I could not pause looking at signs for more than five seconds without someone coming up and asking, "May I help you? Where are you going?" These were not Metro employees, but regular passengers taking time out of rush hour traffic to help a foreigner. I took the Metro many times, and this happened every time without fail, no matter how busy the stations. If I said, "It's not necessary, thank you" they frequently replied, "It is my duty to help you. You are a guest in my home."

When I lost my Indian cellphone in Manali, people helped look for it, walking out of their store. They tried calling the phone. They showed me where the main offices for AirTel were. They gave me good advice.

When I found I needed a local in Leh to vouch for me to get a SIM card for my cellphone in Jammu and Kashmir state by obtaining a copy of a local resident's identification card, the hotel owner immediately pulled out his wallet, handed me his identification card, and said, "Just bring it back to me when you're finished."

When I went through security checkpoints a second time, the Army officer recognized me, shook my hand, and spoke to me at length, talking about teaching and children.

When I was without money, people offered money and refused any of my offers to repay them later, again saying, "It is my duty to help you. You are a guest in my home."

When I was loaded down with heavy backpacks filled with gifts and extra photographic equipment, people offered to help carry the backpacks.

When I came in to the hotel sticky with sweat from the oppressive Delhi heat, the hotel manager immediately offered me a cold bottle of water. Without charge.

The people in Srinagar in Kashmir were always kind. My Kashmiri friend's friends invited me to see the sites in Kashmir with them.

And no discussion on kindness would be complete without mentioning my Indian family in Delhi and my Indian family in Kashmir.

Anyone who says that people in large cities are brusque or rude has never been in large cities in India.

In 2005 and 2008, I wrote about the progress of India, its respect, compassion, and openness toward other people and other religions. I've written about how beautiful India is. But maybe what brings me back is that the kindness of the people.

And now, you will meet some of these people who were so kind. And you will see how beautiful the Himalayas of India are. You will see photos of the vivid Himalayan night sky, photos of stars. You'll see monasteries and temples and mosques, the last pure Aryans in Dah Village in Ladakh, Kashmiris who live on a lake, Delhi night markets, the towering mountains of the Himalayas, and much more.

You will be able to navigate each page by clicking on the backward or forward autorickshaw, which gets you to where you want to go both in India and on this page. Let's begin!

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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The Himalayas of India: Summer 2013


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Bonus Page - Manali-Leh Road
Bonus Page - My Kashmiri Family Eleven Shadows Travel Page

Does India Have the Friendliest Large Cities in the World?

Contact photographer/musician Ken Lee

Eleven Shadows Travel Page
Contact photographer/musician Ken Lee



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