Thursday, 1 March 2012

Remote villages Nepal

With the grace of a cabbage I took to the center stage..

Darpuk, Palpa

 After arriving in Nepal I met up with some of the members of Hamro Chahana Nepal, who were very helpful and very quickly organised for me to visit some of their working areas, with the idea that I could stay there for a few weeks to actually experience for myself the lifestye of the Bote community and the conditions in which they live. A perfect opportunity for me to to record and collect material to be used for the art/bicycle journey exhibition to be held later on this year in Ahmedabad.

The first village I visited is situated about 150km west of Katmandu, in an area called Palpa. There are small communities of people living in these areas known as `Bote` people, who are a simple community that rely on fishing for their basic needs.

It was a long journey to reach this area, so I took a night bus which is no different to the day bus, just as bumby, noisy, uncomfortable except you have the advantage of not seeing where you are going, which is a blessing sometimes.

I arrived in a small town called Tansen, where I was met by one of their NGO operatives, whose name was Ganesh, immediately we got on very well together, he spoke good enough English and explained to me a few things about village life what to expect, concerned that I might find it difficult, I had no fear in what I was going to find.

We jumped on the roof of a jeep along with sacks of rice, potatoes and supplies that were dropped off to various inaccessible places along the way. It took about two and a half hours along rough dirt/mud road to finally reach a steep winding descent down to the village of Darpuk below, where we will be staying.

Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by a large crowd of villagers, presented with garland of their sacred `Tulsi` flowers and given a plate with a few offerings, coconut, sweets, we were literally treated like Gods.

I was not prepared for such a reception, and felt extremely humble, emotional, as I am generally a shy, reclusive type who likes time by myself, so this was another moment amongst many that my journey has forced me to overcome my shyness and be the at the center of attention.

We were prepared a meal courtesy of one of their local chickens and then it was time to `dance` I could hear that the drumming had already started, and for a moment the comedy partition in my mind activated and I started to think, maybe that was that just a meal to fatten me up a little before the main European course? .... I was the main course, but only as a respected guest, the whole village had turned out to welcome us in a tradition song and dance evening, where it was obligatory to get up and dance or risk offending them, again I am no dancer by nature, but I took a deep breath and decided to break the ice, it was time to take center stage and present them with my with the grace of a cabbage and the energy of a small atomic explosion, I launched myself into some sort of tribal, death, battle, attack, thrashing around with arms and legs, you know just to break the ice......I looked around and saw hundreds of wide eyes staring, speechless, no cheering, just shock I think. OK no applause so I slipped away into the crowd and watched the others, then I got the idea to be a little more rhythmic and peaceful, my next attempt was exactly that, now that my appearance and last attempt had indeed broken the ice there were no more need to be quite so dramatic and I actually enjoyed moving around to the sound of the drum, clapping of hands and now real cheering....I got it, a great evening had by all.

Ganesh took the opportunity to speak with everyone to introduce me and to explain my intentions being there  in the village, he would be leaving in a few days so I would be left to my own devices, so it was good opportunity to be introduced to them all at once.

First night, a meal prepared from local chicken

Ganesh NGO, soon to be good friends

Thats what you have to do if you want milk in your tea, just make sure you get the right type of animal, preferable female.

I can understand why they worship them...they are so peaceful and harmless....

A typical kitchen

Typical `Boti` style house......Boti being the name given to this community of people.

A new school being built, a recent project through HCN

looking towards the village and the steep descent in the background where our jeep zig zagged down.

Learning to weave straw mats, called `Gundri`

With the help of HCN this man was able to see again after struggling with Cataracts all his life, a problem of lack of education these people do not know what is curable or not.

This is your bath direct from the HYmalayas.....hence I prefered to bath just once the entire stay.

repairing fishing nets

A typical trapping method used by the Boti people, they rely upon fishing and have developed various methods of catching fish, nut now because of a new dam built it has disrupted their only way that they know to provide for themselves.

A wooden plough

Keeping the Hymalayan chill at bay, mornings and evenings were a bit fresh to say the least.

Boti people, preparing a animal for slaughter.

I let your immagination deal with the rest....that is the reality of life here, this is actually where your plastic wrapped meat comes from.

Making fish traps, their idea is to create a channel of slow moving water where the fish will prefer to swim upstream, they find the easiest route through these man made channels and get caught in a trap at the end.

Local `Gundrik` a fermented and dried cabbage, actually very tasty. Very traditional food used in soups.

Gundri making

Even in rural life there are conflicts

Basket making

The first time I saw rain since riding through Hungary.....boy did it rain, all day

It makes a real mess everything is mud, the houses are mud and literally crumble and have to be patched up again.

Working milk into curd
Drawings, sketches taken whilst staying in these villages.

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