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Tashi Tsering

Tashi Tsering
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Ladakh has benefited tremendously from tourism, says the cab driver

Lalitha Sridhar
April 01 , 2014
03 Min Read

OT: How did you become a driver for tourists?

Tashi Tsering: I come from a small village, 92km away from Leh. After I finished my high school, I came here to look for work. I got a job in a hotel and I worked all the time — cleaning, doing the laundry, room service… It was a lot of work and the money was not great. But the tips were helpful. So I started learning how to drive because it offered better prospects. Back then, there was hardly any traffic in Leh; not like now. It was really peaceful and quiet.

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OT: You have your own vehicle now?

Tashi Tsering: I do. And how I got it, is a long story… I had set my heart on the Innova but I didn’t have enough money to buy it. Finally, I found a good vehicle on sale in Jammu and went to pick it up. I had to raise the money with great difficulty. My friends and family members pitched in. Even my mother gave me Rs 2,000. God only knows how she saved that money. I kept track of everything I had borrowed and worked hard to return it. But when I went to pick up the vehicle, I realised I didn’t have money for insurance. Again, a friend bailed me out. And then, believe it or not, there was no money for petrol. I had decided to drink water and drive back to Leh on an empty stomach but I hadn’t thought about the petrol for the car! Luckily, a group of tourists who were stranded — their driver hadn’t showed up — hired my car for a trip to Leh. And that’s how my journey started.


OT: You volunteered to fight in the Kargil War?

Tashi Tsering: There is a lot of army presence here because we are so close to the border. When the Kargil War happened, I decided to volunteer because I felt I should do my bit too — so many brave jawans were already fighting right here in Ladakh. The army training and experience was very helpful. I learnt so many things. There was so much discipline. But I was grateful when the war was over.


OT: What do you do in the winter?

Tashi Tsering: There is nothing here after the tourists leave. The highways to Srinagar and Manali close down in October and we are completely cut off. A few people come for the Chadar Trek in winter, and there are one or two hotels with heating, but that’s about it. So we go back to our villages and spend everything we earn in the summer! What else can we do? People get married, all the big gompa festivals take place…it’s like Ladakh always was, like nothing ever changed.


OT: Do you think tourism is good for Ladakh?

Tashi Tsering: I feel Ladakh has benefited tremendously from tourism. So many opportunities have opened up for us. I’d like to thank the authorities who have promoted tourism here. I hope more and more people are able to come and enjoy the great beauty of Ladakh. Most tourists are kind people and many of them become friends. I feel happy to take them around and see that look of amazement every time. Having said that, of course, I would like to see the natural beauty of Ladakh preserved, so that people can enjoy it in the future as well.


Tashi Tsering, Cab Owner & Driver, Leh town 9906993660



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