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30 June 2000


Bari is a young mountaineer and much of the testimony is devoted to a discussion of his work. He describes how he became involved: “I was eager to learn climbing from my childhood, because my family had climbers … I selected this profession following in their footprints.” He recounts some of his climbing experiences and discusses the influence of his teacher Rajab Shah janab, the first Pakistani to have reached the summits of five peaks of 8,000 metres. He is evidently proud of the tradition of mountaineering in Shimshal.

He discusses some of the problems faced by him personally as well as by the community as a whole, and discusses his hopes for the future. He explains that the system of portering should be improved to benefit more people. He hopes the road will facilitate this, as well as allowing them to sell surplus potatoes and so reduce their reliance on tourism. He also says that he has been disadvantaged by illiteracy: “I want to do business but I am handicapped. I am illiterate.” He is optimistic about the benefits of educating his children: “If I could educate my children well, certainly there would be one, two or three vehicles standing at my door.”

Bari’s responses to questions tend to be short and the interview jumps from topic to topic and so does not address many issues in great depth.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  Background to his profession; explains “I belong to a poor family. Climbing pays me much more. Besides, I am fond of climbing...” Worked as a porter when he was young. Portering: “In Shimshal this system, if improved, can benefit more people.” Discussion of games, his role as a scout. The road: “If we have a road we will not simply rely on tourism but sell our surplus potatoes, too.” The benefits of electricity: “when I return from work, I relax, I enjoy listening to music/songs, also my children study in light.”
Section 3  The radio: “I educate myself about world affairs” Claims that “in Pakistan, climbers from Shimshal are the highest in number”. Festivals – favourite is Tagam (sowing festival): “it is a beautiful custom.”
Section 4  Advantages of farming: “We are free to do things at our own will. While working with tourists, you are simply servants. In farming, you work hard and you enjoy [it].” Discussion of food. He likes the area of Aminabad in Shimshal because “water is affluently available. There is no quarrel over water supply.” Experience of climbing summits, praise for his teacher Rajab Shah.
Section 5  Cannot do business as is handicapped by his illiteracy. Experiences of Pamir (Shimshal’s mountain pastures): “Living there with parents and friends in that beautiful place is really good.” Says the past was better: “they respected each other. Their elders were given full respect. Nowadays people don't care for each other.” The forefather who first came to the place: he won Pamir by playing polo.
Section 6  Meeting a Wakhi speaker: “…especially in a city when I meet a Wakhi-speaking person, I really feel pleasure” The role of AKRSP in the road: “Had AKRSP not started this work the government would have never constructed the road for us.” Hopes for the future: “I want to produce potatoes and sell them to earn money for education of my children.”
Section 7-9  He is angry when his wife mistreats children: “Children should not be mishandled, rather cared for and taught with love and affection.” Recalls childhood quarrels and guarding the crop fields from birds. Recalls a ghostly/supernatural experience while climbing a mountain. Difficulties faced while climbing: lack of oxygen. Recalls an accident – someone he was with fell to his death. Educated people in the community – they bring “developmental activities” and “deal with others with good manners” Wishes to buy a vehicle but “my brother and I have not any savings”.
Section 10  His brothers: says he gave them the chance to be educated and “will help them in getting married.” Brothers usually follow careers of the older brother – one of his brothers is also a climber. His father was a carpenter and so is his uncle. One brother has gone abroad: “I am proud of him…he will work hard and bring a good name to our family.”
Section 11-12  Marriage customs, collection of wood, grinding flour. Livestock: “we face certain problems, we have to seek buyers in the market. We have scarce fodder resources. Therefore, people are forced to sell their products/livestock at depressed prices.” Suggestions for improving sales: “a market should be found out so all sellers could negotiate and sell their product collectively.” Drinking of tea and moch (local soup). Cultivation and storage of apples. Potato cultivation: “We can’t bring pulses due to being far away from the market. We like potatoes … Potatoes meet our needs” The city: “I like my home very much, because I am illiterate I can’t understand things in the city”
Section 13-14  Dealings with tourist agencies in Islamabad. Says “I am new in this field so they don’t call me. I myself go to their office and try to get a chance.” The importance of discipline in sport; his experience of volleyball.