I realize Helena Norberg-Hodge was right.
Tourism and western style development have brought in their many ills into Ladakh. None can discount that education and healthcare are important basic rights, but what works in the western world may not really work everywhere. In addition, a yearning for a lifestyle like the West may result in self contempt. Not the best way to live.
Happy, smiling faces - not as many as I thought there would be. Cars splutter dirty smoke into faces. Ramshackle random shops are an eyesore, broken roads, stray plastic bottles (not just the tourists), greed, bickering. It’s all there.
As one of the last subsistence economies to survive virtually intact to the present day, Ladakh has been a unique vantage point from which to observe the whole process of development. Its collision with the modern world has been particularly sudden and dramatic. Yet the transformation it is now experiencing is anything but unique; essentially the same process is affecting every corner of the world.
Read her book before you go. Not just Ladakh, you’ll know what's wrong with most of our lives.