In the desert mountain landscape of the Trans-Himalayas, it’s easy to forget the color green. On my way to Komic, the highest inhabited village in the Himalayas, the unassuming village of Lhangza enchants me. Blue, green, brown and white are the predominant colors; the foremost of the clear sky, the latter three alternating among the bare, snow-capped & surprisingly green mountains.
As I make my way up to a rocky hill atop which is perched a Buddha statue, I wave at a herd of children screaming hello from a nearby rooftop. A little girl comes rolling down with a big empty canyon used to carry water. I ask her her name and age, and her chubby cheeks glow a dark red as she points to her school atop another hill. In her timid voice, she tells me she studies Math and English, and her voice drifts away in shyness with the rest of the subjects. She happily agrees to pose for a picture, then hurriedly carries her water canyon to the water tank at the base of the hill.
I reach a vantage point on an abandoned rooftop and seat myself down, overlooking deserted green hills, small streams, and a dozen, white, flat-roofed, bamboo-covered houses. Colorful flags symbolic of Buddhism flutter in the wind, as does my hair. It’s moments like these that inspire me to travel, I think to myself.
As I get up from my beautiful throne, a giant hawk graces the azure sky and flies a few feet away from me, leaving me in awe. Suddenly, my little friend appears out of nowhere and tugs at me. She opens her little fist and reveals a beautifully carved ammonite fossil that she found up in the mountains, and offers it to me. Seeing me marvel at it, she asks me for some money in exchange. I’m at conflict; buying fossils is the extreme opposite of responsible travel and a major conservation hazard, and yet, how can I say no to such a cute kid and such a lovely fossil? My heart wins, and we exchange big smiles in parting.
Understanding the subconscious wants of a traveler and being able to deliver on them has to be in the nature of an entrepreneur, even at 12.