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We walk through the peaceful village where the

simple everyday life goes its normal way. Men

open the shutters of their small shops, children

walk to school in colourful uniforms and women

do the laundry in the clear water of the Shyok, a

branch of the Indus that flows through the town.

Everywhere we appear, people look up in amaze-

ment. It is clear that they don’t immediately know

how to respond to our presence. But when Afzel

provides a few words of explanation, their faces

immediately light up. Foreign visitors are welco-

me. A short chat or posing for a photo is no longer

a problem. With their tawny faces and typical cos-

tumes consisting of a shalwar (wide pants) and a

kameez (long shirt) the Balti’s are very photogenic.

A boy with crystal green eyes gazes straight into

our camera lens.