More desert

My first night at the village was at one of the village head’s home. The whole family were there helping the move-out of his older daughter, who wasn’t very pretty nor polite. The able ones filled the nice-looking army-green canvas bags with barley and carried them out to be ready for the tractor load. The whole room was filled with the dust as those old bags apparently had not been moved for a long time. Two little toddlers crawled around while the mother had to helped out as well. The plan was to move all their belongings to a tent out on their summer pasture, invite guests for a gathering, and a few days later to move everything back to their brick house next to the parents.

The next day, Sanji’s phone finally worked and I switched to stay at his place. He was the only one at home, the wife, daughter and son-in-law, and their dog had all moved to their summer pasture a couple of weeks back. Their family was the designated guard this year, looking out for the whole village group’s grassland until everyone was ready to move.

Sanji called them and asked to send the wife home. We talked the usual politics until the son-in-law brought her, as well as their cute little grand daughter home. She was shy at first, pretending to be sleeping then hide behind Sanji’s wife, but soon, she climbed all over and wanted to check out everything in my bags and pockets. It felt good to be sure I can communicate clearly to the villagers through Sanji.

Rained again. So we stayed in. They put me to good use making moomoo — yak-meat filled bun with the wife. The little girl loved them. Gradually, I got used to the smell of the yak-dung fire. Mixed with the smell of burning barley, which people some time do for good luck, it sits well in my olfactory memory.

Things have to be done slowly here.

And finally a good day for going out to the summer pasture.

Incredibly bumpy ride across the grassland. I liked it though, so out-there. Pika-like rodents everywhere it was hard not to run some over. I think they have to do with some imbalance in the ecosystem as well — it’s good to have some of them but it seems way too many for this type of environment now.

Even though the grassland was patched with desert, they are still beautiful to look at. Wide open.

Sanji’s family set their tent close to the foot of a sandhill in the grassland. It was good to see his daughter. We took a short break for tea ( da-cha, the original Tibetan tea before they adopted the leafy Chinese tea) and Sanji rode me out to see the desert, again.

Very light drizzle but nothing serious enough from the look of the cloud. With enough time, I can set the tripod out and film as long as I needed to, a luxury I didn’t have last time. In the middle of these sand hills was a lake, or what little remained of a used-to-be big lake the locals called it Bird Lake. A few white egrets and cranes lingered around. I wished I could see what it was like before. It was a good vantage point though, to film the surrounding sandy hills. I got an idea to experiment — a composite shot from all the angles I’ve gotten — will see how that could turn out.

Three Tibetan antelopes showed up in the distance out of my surprise. They kept the distance as we tried to move for a closer look. Sanji tried to herd them toward me but they out-smarted him quickly and vanished into the desert hill.

In addition to long shots, I got to do some close-ups as well of the little grass, flowers, and just sand. Another time, another weather, I’ll do some more.

Back at the tent, Sanji’s older daughter as well as her husband and their little boy came for a visit. Their summer land was not so far away. After dinner together, they set off on their horses, the baby boy in front of the father, and sang their way into the distance, half grassland, half desert. That image really moved me. For whatever reasons I chose to do this project, that would add to one of them.

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