Bomdila – A Kind of Homecoming

Walking down Main Street in Bomdila, I felt nostalgia well up in me like a spring. The timbered houses and pots beaming with flowers, the crisp breeze and cobalt sky were all reminiscent of distant places in the Alps. But instead there I was, in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, and the similitude was comfortable as a plush old recliner.

Bomdila Market Vendor

About half way into the stroll, we turned into a covered market hall where aromas of yak’s cheese and smoked morel mushrooms tickled my nose. Slotted spoons danced in shiny rows and a show of colourful woven baskets and bags had me looking this way and that. Finding a favourite among the traditional hand-loomed satchels proved far too difficult, and I finally narrowed it down to just three.

My Monpa Style

While coming out of the bazaar, our eyes fell on a man who reservedly returned our gaze. The high rubber boots and vest of dark fur that he wore gave him away as a yak herdsman or Brokpa. He had perhaps come into town to fetch supplies or to sell produce, a social interlude in his otherwise semi-nomadic life spent moving with his animals among the alpine meadows and sheltering in simple huts.

Up Close with a Brokpa

Crossing the street, we asked the Brokpa if he would pose for a photo. He smiled with his eyes and his little turquoise earring jiggled slightly as he nodded in accord. Standing next to him, I admired the woven satchel he carried over his shoulder. Though weather-worn, a pattern of diamonds blinked up at me, same as the ones on my own bag bought only moments before; just one more endearing detail which made this place feel so like home.

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