Travel with Ruth – Hunza Valley – Part IV
Ruth Naymat Gill is a conservationist, an explorer and traveler. She loves to read and write. She is a storyteller when she shares her own experiences with others. In this six part series, she takes us to a trip to the beautiful Hunza Valley of Pakistan.
Roshan Bibi was observing me for some time, while she was waiting for a van to take her to her village. She used to live in Passu village before she got married and now she lived in Moorkhun village. She asked me who I am. Where I came from and why I was sitting there alone. I found her really kind and open. I asked her about her family and she told me that she has seven kids and her husband has died. She belonged to the head family of her village and have large cattle setup. She also told me that they see Ibexes and Markhors in their village every now and then and sometimes the snow leopards are also seen.
Roshan Bibi was very fluent in Urdu and also spoke a little English. She tried to teach me her local language ‘Wakhi’, and insisted that I write sentence she was telling me so that I do not forget it later. I asked her if I can take a photograph with her and she allowed it. Before I met her, I was quite lost, I was awestruck with the hugeness of the place I had been visiting for three days now, all the important spots, well known places admired by many. Looking at the paths that were tread upon by millions before I came here and yet the loneliness of the place. Roshan Bibi gave a new meaning to the place and taught me why they say that meeting strangers and interacting with them helps you to grow. There was no benefit for her to come and ask me if I was fine. There was love, kindness and curiosity in that place.
Wazir Bhai is part of the community development program in the area and has switched to sustainable means of earning. He grows vegetables and makes jam of sea-buck thorn berries which are very rich in vitamin C and is a very healthy food option. He also rears bees and collects their honey, yields apricot oil. They family prepared us delicious food, and we had the best meal with them during this whole trip. Evening turned and we were all fed and sleepy when someone suggested music and our great hosts turned up with a full band of locals with a tumbk and Rubab.
We spend some time listening to their folk songs and dance. After two or three songs they asked us if any of us would like to sing as well. We sang “Dama dam mast Qalander” but of course we were no match for them. They encouraged us to dance with them as well, and it is safe to say that we failed to imitate them any good. There dance was so rhythmic and to the beat, something that keeps you mesmerized in the moment while the performers forget that anyone else is watching them too. It is a dance of the soul of the mountains and I believe in those rhythms one actually connects to the nature, I wish, I could learn it in the small time we spend there.
Next morning, we ate the traditional bread called Puthuk with Honey and Sea-buck thorn berries jam for breakfast and went out to visit the community school in the village, Nosir e Khusrow Model Academy. We first met the tenth grade students who told us what their aims and aspirations are. I purposely did not used the word dream here because these students never gave that impression, they might have once dreamed of what they were describing with so much surety of mind and purpose. They knew what they want to be and sounded determinant to achieve their goals. This was the most interesting thing we observed that people of Hunza makes you feel like what you have achieved in life is so small because how they have lived the same years as we have is completely different.
We met people there who were unable to read and write and couldn’t even understand Urdu and then there were people who could speak or understood more than five languages. Not one person in our group was collectively coming close to them. We all have our own achievements we care about and our own experiences that could not be compared with another’s but sometimes when we look at others and what they are capable of, we start pondering. Appreciating what others are capable of in their circumstance and who we are today is an important characteristic that is learnt with time and heart. Mind is not involved here, as mind will always show others achievements as possibilities for you but it’s your heart that learns to tame your mind with time and then we know contentment.
The photos used in this travelogue are contributed by Ruth Naymat Gill.