Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












24 December 2000



Section 1
Today I want to get the information regarding the personal experience of Chughbai janab (Mr, sir). It is December 24, Hoobtoqsh 27 (local calendar) the time is 3 pm and the village is covered with snow. The sky is partially covered with clouds and it is extremely cold outside. First of all I would like to ask Chughbai janab who spent most of his life in community services, about his personal experiences and I hope that he will share with us his valuable experiences.
So Chughbai janab! Assalam-o-Aliakum (peace be with you). My first question for you is: what is your age at the moment?
Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim (In the name of God the magnificent and the most merciful). Doctor sahib [interviewer is a male nurse /compounder by profession and people call him doctor]! My age is 65 years.

Poopy (interviewerís grandfatherís name) where were you born?
I was born in Shimshal

Good! Would you like to tell me that you married according to your own wish or your parents arranged it?
I was married twice, my first marriage was at an early age and was arranged by my parents and the second marriage was a love marriage.

Very good! Cousin! How many generations of your family have been living in Shimshal?
In my family fourteen generations have been passed here.

Well fourteen generations very good! Among these fourteen generations, would you like to tell me about any of your ancestors who played an excellent role?
My grandfather Murad was single from his parents (an only child) but he was a skilful man, he had the skill to do all the works such as weaving sharma (local carpet made of yak or goat hair) and patto (coarse woollen cloth) and he was also a carpenter.

Very good! You spent most of your life in community development activities, as there was no proper trek between Pamir (Shimshalís mountain pastures) and Shimshal the rivers and streams were forded several times and you helped out your brothers (co- travellers). Would you like to tell us about that and what was the common way of helping one another on such occasions?
The time was such that we would frequently travel to transport the Mirís (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) load (goods) and we would travel together. During such journeys we would extend help to those of our brothers who were physically weak. We would help them cross the rivers and would help them cross difficult tracks, and that was the way we would help each other. We would also share the loads of elders and the weak and it was the way of our help at that time.
Section 2
You spent most of your life serving the institutions. Which institutions did you serve?
First of all I served as a community volunteer and after my retirement from the volunteers I served for the Tariqa (literally, the way; religious education) board for 6 years and after that I worked as a member of the Arbitration Committee board for several years and as a convenor of the Arbitration Committee for two years. The work of arbitration is quite difficult and sensitive; one should be honest and unbiased and should always tell the truth. Because in arbitration there is no room for the cheaters and those who tell lies, there is no favouritism and biases towards tribe or kinship. One should try his best to remain honest only then can he discharge his responsibilities in its real essence.

As you told about the journeys and you are in your sixties, I would like to ask you which was the most difficult journey of your life that you would like to tell us about today?
When Pamir was under dispute, at that time Ghujerab was used as our main pasture. So I had to travel frequently to Ghujerab; but one journey that I carried out with Bobi was so hard and difficult that we hardly escaped death. It was the most life-risking journey that I have ever had in my life.

What kind of difficulties did you experience during this journey?
The hardship of this journey started when we visited during odd weather. At Ghujerab it started snowing and we started our return journey amid the worsening weather. It continued snowing the whole day and we travelled the whole day and reached Peershad Washk (place; camp site). The hut was without a roof and we spent the night in the open air and it snowed the whole night. Then the next morning when we got up the hut was filled with heavy snow however we managed to resume our journey. There were dark clouds in the sky, pouring flakes of snow and it was too misty to recognise out trek. We continued our journey by splitting the heavy snow and making our way towards our destination. As it was a gorge and the snow was slipping from the side slopes in the form of an avalanche we had to make our way amid these avalanches. On several occasions we narrowly escaped from the avalanches till we reached Malung Halga our second campsite. We had travelled from Peershad Washk to Malung Halga. When we reached there we came to know that we were running out of foodstuff. We slept without food, the next morning we again started our journey and when we reached the Thang (Shimshal gorge close to the village) our trousers were torn due to the cutting from the snow and ice along our trek. At that time two trousers were normally used during the journey the new one was worn beneath the old ones. So we threw away the old trousers at Thang as they were torn out by the sharp edges of snow. So this was the most difficult and miserable journey of my life although I had travelled a lot on the trek to Pamir and sometimes it was a difficult but this journey was the most troublesome and risky one.
Section 3
I would like to ask you whether you or your family carried out any philanthropic work for the village?
Philanthropic work for the village in my view was such that when my mother fell ill I told her that I could not afford to offer a lot to philanthropic activity as was done in the past but I promised my mother that I would construct a room in the school building in her name as was advised by Ghulam-ud-Din janab (famous education activist and community leader). When my mother passed away I told my brother to construct a room in the school building but they were of the opinion that the sack of butter (40-50 kgs fresh butter in a goat or sheep skin sack) should be sold in the market instead of being consumed for the school building but I insisted and ultimately constructed the room. Now I realise that it was very beneficial for the villagers. Our children are getting education from this school. Other than that I did not offer much of my wealth to nomus (system of donating resources for a community project in the name of a relative), we constructed this room from our own resources and it is being used by our community for the noble cause of education.

Presently you are heading the board of directors of SNT, so I would like to you why SNT was formed and what does it mean?
Doctor sahib! The purpose of SNT is to preserve the endangered species and to cooperate with the government in conservation efforts of rare species. Secondly to manage and promote tourism in the area that would benefit the community. The research (interviews) that you are making today is also part of the SNT programme. The research is being done by our school children and what you are doing is all from the SNT.

Correct! What opinion do you have about the future programme of SNT and what deficiencies did you observe in its programmes?
I experienced [some] operational deficiency in SNT. But it is partly for the reason that people in our village sometimes oppose each other just for nothing.

It is not my personal institution it is a community institution and people should understand it and should not oppose it. What we are doing is for the benefit of the village and it solves the problems of the village not an individual - so people should cooperate with each other rather then opposing each other. I donít like this attitude. All the villagers should get united and solve their problems
Section 4
You asserted very correctly that we oppose each other; so what is your recommendation to overcome this problem?
In my opinion the institution has been formed to solve the communityís problem, it doesnít matter who runs it, whether the council or people from the community, they should get united. At present, almost all the tribes or clan have representation in SNT and all of them are not with similar qualities and intelligence so there exists difference of opinion in the present set up and I think in future other people from the community or the council will run it but in any case it should flourish and we should not lose it.

There are several institutions functioning in the village, I want to ask you about when AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Programme) was established in Gilgit and its impact also reached Shimshal and we formed social organisations and tried to follow the rules of the organisation. So what is your feeling about the social organisation of AKRSP?
Those from AKRSP who came here and convinced us to form organisations and made us understand the purpose of the organisation, they told us to form as many village organisations as possible to get more funding for the projects. So we formed three village organisations instead of one and we got funding from AKRSP for our major project of the Shimshal link road, which was a very difficult and risky project. AKRSP guided us and provided us with the financial and technical assistance and we constructed the road and to some extent got rid of the problems.

Through these projects we came to know that the programmes and activities of AKRSP are more reliable and long lasting and in fact we commend its work as they mitigated our miseries and trained us in how to get organised and how to work collectively. The programmes and the projects are still running and the government is also doing some activities in the village. But we have more trust and confidence in AKRSP so we entrust them for all our savings and they invest our money and give us the profit. The ongoing projects in the village are an example of the success of AKRSP in the area.

Would you like to tell us that what kind of hardships we had or still have due to the unavailability of road? What kind of advantages and disadvantages do you foresee when the road is linked to the village?
We had a lot of hardships when there was no road; we would take the load on our back and would start walking early in the morning from Passu and would reach Dut (place; camp site) in the night. There were no huts. We would spend the night in the cave, there was also no proper bedding facility there and we would use bett (woollen overcoats) as bedding. Today the road has facilitated and eased our hardships and we can reach the village with loads without making a midway stay. Today very few people take the load on their back; most of the people use a donkey for transportation. Therefore I think that the hardships are gone, the income has increased a lot. But the major problem is the decline in unity and cooperation as it was in the past. In my view there was a lot of poverty in former times but there was unity. Now prosperity and comforts have reduced the unity and cooperation among the people.
Section 5
Correct! What difference and changes do you observe today as compared to the olden times?
When we talk about the former times we talk about poverty, because there was lots of poverty; nothing apart from our own resources was available. In this village whatever we possessed we were required to live within that income. Nothing except a peel (wooden plate) of dried apricots that were imported from outside. Now our source of subsistence has increased and if we cooperate with each other and build our road quickly then we will get more benefits from our income sources. But the disadvantage due to the road is the disturbance from the outside people but overall it will benefit us like in other places.

My dear Poopy! As Hideki janab1 named you professor in accordance with your knowledge about the local calendar, I would also like to hear from you about the local calendar that is based on the movement of the sun. So would you please tell us about the movement of sun in different locations? I will tell you about the movement of the sun. Today while we are talking about the calendar, the sun has reached to the location designated as zemiston (winter) [Note: The eastern mountain wall of Shimshal village was divided in to several pockets allocated with fixed days and the forward movement and the backward movement of sun along the mountain gave the local calendar. The movement of sun was observed from an observatory called Koongra and the local festivals were planned according to the sunís position]. The sun has reached its winter position and according to our traditional calendar, it will take 20 days to reach Pootig (mount/crest) this will start the pair movement i.e. mating season for ibex and blue sheep. From Pootig to Yupk Parvetk (yupk means water: the first light of rising sun falls on water in a particular location) will take another 20 days when we celebrate the festival called Vichhosh (outdoor soup festival). From Yupk Parvetk to Beshkooh (extra mount) it takes 6 days and from here to Soorchock it takes 11 days to reach Changle (spur) but after 5 days of movement in Soorchook we celebrate the festival Kethedith. After 4 days of movement in Changle the migration of ducks (from Russia to China) starts. The sun takes 4 days to reach Sorogig (the flat portion) and 4 days to reach the position of Batbat Raw (extensive migration of ducks). At this point we start delivering fertiliser to the fields. After crossing Batbat Raw, the sun moves in Loopchock (the biggest spur) then it takes 5 days to reach Yaz (glacier), three days to Nadink and when it crosses Nadink we celebrate Nauroz (New year festival celebrated on March 21). The sun moves from Hamal to Pamir water in 20 days and moves to Poot in 9 days and in Lash (steep rock) for 11 days. At this position we start cultivation. Then it moves along the Kham (saddle) for 9 days, in Wooch Lash (upper steep rock) 7 days, in Safar 8 days, Malangoodi Keshk 4 days, at this point the migration to Pamir takes place. Then it moves in Parech for 8 days and 7 days in Shegardeg, 5 days in Pastbar (literally, lower gate) and 18 days in Wuchbar (literally, upper gate) (referring to lower and upper village) but it does not move in this portion for 18 days exactly as the position is quite wide.
The sun then starts moving in the reverse direction in the same way as I already told such as after completing 18 days in Wuchbar it moves to Pastbar taking 5 days, moves through the position of Shegardeg in 7 days, in Parech 8 days, in Safar 8 days. At the beginning of Safar our famous Chaneer festival (harvest festival) starts and the second day is the new crop festival. It moves in Wuchlash for 3 days, in Kham for 9 days and in Lash for 11 days. At the day of entering the position of Lash it is the first day of sanbala (autumn). This is the beginning of the cold season and the water at the mountains start to freeze. Then it moves 11 days in Lash, 9 days in Poot at this position the flocks of sparrows attack and destroy the wheat crops. The sun then crosses Poot and enters in Chatpert taking 5 days and then in Hamal for 5 days, 5 days in Yaz, 7 days in Loopchoock, and at the day when the sun touches the Batbat Raw our kooch (seasonal migration with livestock to and from pasture) takes place. It takes 5 days in Batbat Raw, 3 days in Soordhang, 4 days in Changle, 11 days in Soorchock, 6 days in Beshkooh (extra mount) commencing the winter season. From there to Pootig it takes 20 days we enjoy the sunlight but when it crosses Pootig then the sun moves beyond the mountain and there is no sunlight for about 20 days. With this it reaches the place of mid winter season.
Section 6
Chughbai janab! You told me about the movement of the sun and the local calendar in detail so please tell me from who did you learn it?
I learnt it from Zahoor Baig janab, my maternal uncle. He had learnt it from his father. Grandfather Shaheen invented this mountain calendar. The knowledge transferred from him to his sun Ghazi and then to Goon. My maternal uncle was the son of Goon, he learnt it from his father and I learnt it from my uncle.

Dear Poopy! You narrated very interestingly your experiences. Would you please tell me which local festivals do you like the best?
In my youth I liked Hoshigarm (hot soup festival celebrated in February to mark the end of winter, when the sunís rays hit the village for the first time after 40 days). In this festival all the youth of the village would gather in the evening and make two groups (according to their house locations) and would invite each other to dinner. After dinner the two groups would contest a polo match and would also bet on the match - whoever lost the match would arrange the next dinner, this would continue for about 10 to 12 days. This was a tough exercise and we would not feel cold, even in light dresses we would enjoy playing polo. This was my favourite game in my youth. Nowadays there are various kinds of games such as football, volleyball and cricket.

This might be the favourite of the young generation but you loved polo!
Yes polo was my favourite game as there were no other games available in the village.

You told that dinner parties were arranged for each other. How was this party managed?
All the young boys were divided into two groups according to the location of their house. The two groups would then collect pemina (contribution in the form of butter, meat, cheese, flour) from their respective households. Whatever they could afford they would contribute to the pemina and this material was then collected in one house by each group and shalboot (local dish mixture of wheat or barley flour, butter and meat) was prepared for dinner. The butter was placed on top of the dish. Whoever prepared the food earlier they would invite the other group to the dinner and would very warmly welcome each other and would take the dinner together. Musical concerts were also arranged on this occasion and we all would enjoy it.
Section 7
Well dear cousin! Customarily it was the pre requisite for this dinner that the house was entered from the rizen (opening in roof for ventilation) instead of entering from the door. What was the logic behind it?
The custom was that those who were invited to dinner were required to jump from the rizen instead of entering through the door. The kids were helped jumping into the house whereas the young would jump without any help. This was the old custom. In my time this custom was almost given up and the house was entered through the door.

As it was part of culture do you think that jumping into the house through the ventilator had any special significance?
It was simply an old custom, which continued till our era, but it was then abolished and the invited groups were allowed to enter the house through the door on this occasion.

Was it your favourite event?
Yes it was my favourite event.

Dear Poopy! The tug of war was the popular game of our village and we maintain a record in this game and it was also your favourite game. Would you please tell us which tug of war competitions participated in and which villages did you defeat in the tug of war games?
Once there was a contingent of the military deployed in our village; we contested them in a tug of war and won the match. The army then offered us a male goat as we had won the game. Then on two other occasions our people contested in Gulmit. One contest was in our elderís time and they had won the game against the Gulmit team. Another contest took place recently in which I also participated. There were groups from all over the Gojal area and in this contest we defeated the Gulmit team and still maintain the title. Shimshal has not been defeated till today in a tug of war.

Are we the custodians of the title as yet?
Yes we maintain the title till today.

Once a tug of war festival was arranged in Gulmit. Did you participate in that contest?
Yes, I was summoned from Pamir for this contest.

Who else participated in this competition?
The persons took part in the competition were Syed Muhammad, Syed Baig, Rahim Ullah, Eid Muhammad, Shambi Khan and Muhammad Sifat.

Well, the team included these people.
Yes these were the members of our team and it defeated the Gulmit team. It was quite a big festival.
Section 8
I think the Deputy Commissioner arranged this festival at the Government level.
But at the time of our elders the Mir of Hunza arranged it. This team included Rehman Baig, Afiat Khan, Niamatullah, Gul Ata, Daulat Muhammad and Muhammad Murad. At that time they had contested with the Gulmit team and won the match and the Mir had given them prizes individually. The prize was in the form of clothes consonant to the need of that time.

Dear Chughbai! I want to ask you about the history of Shimshal. Would you please tell us who came for the first time to settle in Shimshal?
It is not known whether there lived someone in Shimshal prior to our grandfather but as far as our grandfather Mamu Singh is concerned, first of all he came to Afgarchi. One day he went up to the Qaroon Pass and saw a small round settlement across the river known as Sethenik. He returned to Afgarch and took his wife and belongings with him and moved to settle in Sethenik. His wife was not willing for this migration but he forced her to move to the new settlement. They starting cultivating the fields and lived there for quite a long time. One day again he was on a hunting trip to the upper valley when he saw another settlement known as Malungodi, which was better than the first one so he migrated to live in Malungodi. They lived there for a couple of years and one day he crossed the Malungodi glacier and climbed up the top of Baland Sam from there he saw a wide plain valley.
When he moved to this plain valley with his wife and belongings he found a small house (hut) in the village and they started living there. His wife was not on good terms with him as he had forced her to migrate to this village. He went to the stream where he saw the intake of a covered channel and he diverted water to the channel. The next day he saw the water emerging from the ground in a location called Abdullahís field. One day he was out in the fields and his wife was at home and she was boiling the milk of her only black sheep in a semi broken pot when a pious man named Shams visited his house. She spread her scarf sheet on the ground and requested the saint to take a seat. The saint put his stick in the broken pot, which became new and full of milk and then he went out of her house. She went out and called her husband with his genuine name otherwise she would normally call him Shumsing (evil Sing) instead of Mamusing. He was astonished as to how his wife called him so politely, he rushed to the house and his wife told him all about the miracle and from then onward they lived happily with each other. Soon she became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Sher.
When Sher matured he went to Pamir where he came across some strange people. Sher asked them to leave his land and the strange people claimed the land as their property. They had horses with them whereas Sher had yak with him. So they agreed to decide the ownership of the area through a polo match and decided that whoever drives the ball to either side of the pass would be the owner of the land. Horse and yak are not comparable but Sher might be a magician so he drove the ball across the pass to the Chinese side and won the land for us.
It is not very clear from where Sher married but he had five sons, out of the five sons those who survived included grandfather Bakhti, Baqi, Hawaz and Wali It means Bakhti is the son of Sher and the present two clans of Ghazi Kathor and Bkhti Kathor are the descendent of Bakhti the son of grandfather Sher whereas the Baqi Kathore clan are the descendents of the three sons of Sher. Grandfather Hawaz had no child. Baqi and Wali had two sons each so two clans are from Bakhti and one clan from Baqi and wali. Then Bakhti had five sons named Ghazi, Bari, Aliyar, Qanbar, and Bulbul, We the clan of Ghazi Kathor are the descendants of Bakhti. Ghazi had five sons named Shaheen, Phal, Maad, Speecher and Pehlwan. Shaheen, Phall and Maad were from the second wife whereas Speecher and Pehlawan were from the first wife. My maternal grand grandparents belong to Pehlawan. Speecher Kathor, they are quite populated and the descendants from Speecher. Master Amin is from Shaheen, Ghulam Rasool is from grandfather Maad and we are from grandfather Phal. From Phall my grandfather Murad who constructed the channel for Deodoor, we separated from grandfather Murad and my family tree separates from Murad, then his son Boro, then, Qurban, then Shireen Shah, then Phalik, then Boro, then Murad and then my father then myself and then my son Pana and then his son Mudassar. Phalikís son was Shireen Shah and then yourself (interviewer) and then your son Nadeem.
Section 9
My dear Cousin! What differences do you observe between the modern and the old dress?
In the olden times we had insufficient clothes, we would borrow from one another the clothes for travelling outside the village. We would normally carry two bett with us on a journey, as there were no blankets and sleeping bags available at that time, nobody had even seen these things. At camp sites we would make a fire in order to heat the soil and would use our bett as bedding. But today everything is available people camp in the open air wherever they want because they have sleeping bags and good shoes. But we would first dry our woollen socks and footpads and would repair our shoes at every campsite. We would also carry extra pads to protect our feet from snow whenever we would pass through Ghujerab, Snow lake and Pamir pass because if one pad got wet we would change it otherwise there were high risks of frost bite as our local shoes were not as durable as the modern shoes are. It would get damaged frequently and snow would enter from those broken parts into our shoes that would cause frostbite to our feet. Today we donít worry even if we had to camp in Snow lake because we have waterproof sleeping sheets and warm sleeping bags, but that was the time of scarcity when we would borrow bett from one another. We would also borrow the piece of leather for mending our shoes. There was a limited source of income.
Whenever someone slaughtered an animal like a yak or a bull people would borrow from him a piece of leather and he would happily lend them understanding their needs. People would lend each other clothes, shoes etc; people could not afford good shoes except those who were hunters they could afford good shoes, but people like me who cannot afford the hide of ibex could compromise with goatís hide for making shoes, people would take care of each others limitations and would help each other. Today people do not borrow from one another because they possess everything. Everyone has good quality trekking shoes and sleeping bags so they donít need to borrow from each other. This is the difference between the old time and the modern time that there was scarcity of daily use commodities and we would sleep on warm soil with our clothes as bedding when camping outside.
Section 10
Dear cousin! I want to ask you a question, as you are a good farmer and agriculturist. Would you like to tell us about the methods of agriculture and the yield in olden time as well as in modern time?
We are more hardworking in the agriculture sector today as compared to the olden times but the facility is that we can import chemical fertiliser to supplement our local fertiliser but the grain is not as healthy as it used to be in the olden times. It is probably due to the chemical fertiliser. In former times the crop looked not so impressive but the grains were very healthy. But today with the use of chemical fertiliser the crop looks good but the grain is not so healthy.
The trend of plantation was very low for the reason that people were busier with the free labouring for the Mir. People would travel as far as Raskam (Shakgam now part of Chinese territory) and they had no time for these activities. Secondly there was less trend of plantation because there were no boundary walls and the animals destroyed the plantationÖso it was as a result of their mismanagement.
Today we take care of our plants (trees), we protect them from the animals and get the benefit from these plantations. As far as I recall, a few households had planted trees but this trend started in the recent past, today everyone has planted trees, they look after their plantation and protect it from animals. This has resulted in the availability of cheaper production of construction timbers. In former times there was paucity of time due to the Mirís labour and also their negligence, though people extensively travel even today, people remain busy with the tourists the whole summer and then get engaged in road construction but even then they tried to plant as many trees as they could.

Dear cousin! You provided me with very important information. What is your opinion about the National Park? Is it beneficial or hazardous to our community please comment on it?
What to say about the National Park, the lesson we learnt from the Khunjerab National Park is sufficient to understand the benefits of the national park. The Government and the institutions added to the miseries and difficulties of the people through the National Park. The government denied the access of the locals to their pastures, their livestock were driven out of the area by force and people were tortured. They were not compensated for the losses caused by the national park. This experience is sufficient for us to understand the benefits of the national park, so I think the National Park is hazardous to our community. Today we have free access to our landscape. There is no restriction, we go to the pasture with our livestock; we remain there the whole winter with our livestock. But if the government purchased the land for the National Park, then we will never enter our land again which we had possessed and safeguarded for centuries. I think it is extremely destructive for us. Today our women go there with livestock and sometimes there isnít even a single man there, but they are safe. But with the implementation of the National Park there will be a lot of disturbance. As we experienced in Khunjerab, no women stay there, the men go with their domestic livestock. But in Shimshal the women manage the pasture activities independently; they look after their livestock, fetch wood from surrounding valleys, regulate the grazing areas and collect dung cakes from the surrounding areas without any external interference. But if there is a National Park then they will no longer remain there.
Section 11
Quite well cousin! You talked about Pamir and about the women role in Pamir. Would you please tell us why the women go to Pamir in summer?
It is for the reason that in spring when we cultivate our fields and the fields become green then we move the livestock from the village for the sake of our fields. The women accompany these livestock and live at Pamir. They look after the livestock and also prepare butter, cheese, and other dairy products. They stay there for about five months looking after the livestock. The dairy products vary but whatever it is they gather, all these products, they finally bring them to the village after five months of stay at Pamir. Those who live in the village, they collect and store the agricultural products during the five months and at the end, the agricultural and dairy products are combined: that constitutes the total income of a family for that year.

Very good Cousin! As there are a number of community institutions in the village such as volunteers, boy scouts etc. Would you like to tell us about the role and contribution of volunteers in Shimshal?
I will tell you about the volunteers, it is an old institution and we have also served the community through this institution. At that time it was not registered. But we have served the community beyond imagination, but today people render services to the community and all the events are recorded. All the difficult community tasks are carried out by volunteers and the scouts also assist them in community works. They really render commendable services and they also record each and every activity but in our time we had no proper records.
Today the volunteers are playing the leading role and the scouts back them up. Scouts have also rendered excellent services to the community. There were some major problems of the community in recent years, the bridge at Waeen Ben, which was constructed by boy scouts out of their own resources. Scouts without any contribution from the village also constructed another bridge beneath the new settlement near the glacier as I did not participate but they did it. On the route to Pamir there was a bridge it was constructed several times but always washed away by flood, this year it was finally constructed by the volunteers, they transported the iron rope from Dut and constructed the bridge in an extremely cold month of the winter season. Today we comfortably travel through these bridges; these are the activities of scouts and volunteers that mitigate our hardships.

Dear cousin! You talked a lot but I want to ask you about the activities of men in summer. What do they do in summer?
As far as the men are concerned, when our agricultural activity starts, the men work in their fields, they cultivate their fields and when they are finished with cultivation activities they take their livestock to the pasture. But nowadays they travel extensively with tourists in summer and those who are not physically capable of carrying a load they work in their fields, they water their fields and forests. They also facilitate the migration from pasture to pasture in Pamir for about three times in a year, sometimes they visit their families at Pamir and collect wool and hair from their livestock. After Chaneer most of the men are engaged in agricultural activities such as cutting fodder and threshing crops. But in the absence of men, women who remain in the village carry out this work.
This year almost all the men were engaged with the tourists and all the agriculture activities such as collection of fodder, food grain etc were carried out by women and the men earned a lot of money from the tourists this year. So this was the brief of our summer activities.
Section 12
Dear cousin! Did you witness any natural calamity in your life, if so what was that and what kind of damages did it cause?
In my life time I witnessed the disaster of the bursting of the Shimshal [glacial] lake though I witnessed the bursting of the lake for about three times but one was really destructive as it washed away half of the village. It washed away the fruit orchards, houses and green fields. It was summer season when the lake burst, people were busy with their agricultural activities; the high tides of the flood washed away our ripe crops and our fields, houses and gardens. At that time the army was deployed in Shimshal so they assisted the locals in dismantling their houses and shifting their belongings to the safe places. So it was the most destructive disaster I had ever experienced.

Well Poopy! What was the means of communication? How were the people in down valley informed of the natural calamity i.e. about the bursting of the lake?
The means of conveying the message to down valley instantly was such that people i.e sentries were deployed at various view points such as Yazghel Sar Gharsar, Baland Sam, at Waeen Sar, at Nazuk Saman Loopghar and lastly at the top of Abdegar. When the lake started spilling over the glacier the persons on duty close to the lake would make fire and this fire was visible from the next view point i.e. Ghar Sarand the fire/smoke at Ghar Sar was visible from the next view point (Baland sam) and so on. In this way the message were conveyed to Hunza in a few minutes. So our message system about the flood was through making fire/smoke at the viewpoints (sight to sight communication). This was the indication of the flood from the bursting lake.

In former times there was no hospital in the village. If somebody would get sick how were the patients treated?
It was such that if someone would fall ill then the patient would go to a mullah (any religious literate person who can recite words from the Holy Quran). The mullah would give him tawiz (amulet; traditional spiritual treatment for disease) to dissolve in water and to drink and also to inhale. Whatever it was it would alleviate the pain it was just our belief. When someone would suffer from chest and back pain he would drink the boiled water of qeech (local medicinal plant) and would chew the root of the plant. He would also apply the water to pain area of his body. This was our local treatment.
Section 13
Do you think qeech was an effective medicine for the disease?
Yes the patient would recover from the local medicine but it would take time. Today I take the medicine and I recover quickly by the next day. But at that time it was not so quick and people would say that it is good to take time to recover, but if the disease would be prolonged then it was said to be kooftgig (septic) and the maximum recovery period for this disease was 22 days, normally the patient would recover with in 22 days.

So my dear cousin, thank you very much. First of all I would like on behalf of SNT and Panos to thank you that you gave us time for the interview and shared your experiences with us and I hope that your experiences will not remain limited but will be conveyed to the world audiences. With this I will also ask you that the information you provided to us will be conserved in the form of cassette and book would you like your name to be published in the book?
I canít say anything for sure because I donít know these things, you better know if you deem it necessary you can publish my name. Thank you very much.

1 Japanese photojournalist from Nihon University; he organised several visits to Shimshal for groups of Japanese students and was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Education Programme.