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.