Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












8 August 2000



Section 1
Where were you born?
I was born in Shimshal.

What is your age?
I am 47 years old.

Shafa janab (Mr, sir), what do you do?
I work in the fields.

Are you a farmer?
Yes, I am a farmer.

What crops do the farmers grow?
I grow wheat, barley, peas and potato etc.

Now would you like to tell me that most of the people in the village are farmers, is agriculture so important?
Yes of course agriculture is most important for us.

Why is agriculture so important?
Agriculture is important for the reason that it provides us with food and we are dependent on agriculture for our daily needs.

Shafa janab, which tree do you like, apple tree or apricot tree?
At present, apricot is better than apple tree because it gives us dried apricots, wood, fodder (leaves), and oil, whereas apple is perishable and can neither be dried nor sold in the market, so it is not so beneficial.

Shafa janab, what is your impression about the electricity in the village? Is it good or bad?
Electricity is a very good facility. In former times we would transport kerosene oil on our back from the down valley (Hunza and Gojal) which was a troublesome job. The electricity obviated us from those hardships and has facilitated our daily works in the fields as well as in the house and saved substantially the cost that was incurred on kerosene.
Section 2
What was the arrangement for lighting in former times and how did our grandmothers work?
In former times we would bring firewood from the mountains and would make it into pieces and would make light from two pieces of wood. Our grandmothers would sit around the fire and would work. Those who were wealthy would use animal fat for light. This source of light was expensive and would only be used on special occasions like festivals, celebrations and other occasions. On normal days we would use firewood for lighting.

Do you remember the work of spinning of threads from wool that our grandmothers would perform?
Yes exactly, I remember that quite well because our entire needs were met through this. Our parents would collect the wool and hair from all animals and our mothers and grandmothers would prepare from the wool our clothes, socks and caps. We would normally keep two pairs of good woollen clothes one for celebrations in the village and one pair for travelling to other villages. There were no other clothes except the woollen clothes and our mothers would wash the woollen clothes in shalang (barley flour) because at that time washing soaps were not available.

For what purpose was shakhore (ash made from local plant used as shampoo) used that time?
Shakhore were also used for washing the clothes but women as shampoo for washing their hair used mostly it.

Shafa janab would you like to tell us that how many festivals traditionally do we have in the village?
The first festival we celebrate in the village is Vichhosh (outdoor soup festival) then we celebrate Kethedith (Spring festival), than Shegd Saal (New Year/Nauroz), after that we celebrate Chaneer (harvest festival) and at the end we celebrate Kooch (celebration when people return from Pamir with many livestock products).

Among these festivals which one is the most important?
In former times Vichhosh festival used to be the happiest occasion for us. We would clean the field by removing the snow to prepare the field as a polo ground. There were no iron spades available so we would remove the heavy snow with the help of payee (wooden spade). Our seniors would play polo and we would enjoy watching the game.
All the people would divide into two groups and the seniors would lead the two groups in the polo match. This match would continue for even three days. They would bet on the match and those who lost the match would prepare food and bring it to the Jamat khana (religious and community centre of Ismaili Muslims) and all the male population would participate in that. Normally those who were wealthy were selected as captain of the team so that in the case of losing the match they can sponsor the food.
Tuksori (game similar to cricket) was the second popular game. This game would start from the day of Kethedith. We would play tuksori during the fertiliser delivery period. And those for whom we would deliver the fertiliser to the field would prepare bread, which was called bezd khech (bread to put in your pocket and eat whilst working). We would play tuksori with other clans of the village and if we lost the match we would offer the bezd khech to them. The seniors would thank God and would happily participate in the event, for them it was an important and happy occasion.
Section 3
In your view was there unity among the people in former times, what was the reason for that unity?
The reason for the unity in former times was the honesty and sympathy of the people. They were so honest that if somebody among them was poor or physically week, they would never let him feel his deficiency. If someone was not capable to bear the expenses of collective works such as [providing] the food during fertiliser delivery and ploughing the fields, then those who were well off would bear these expenses. In this way the works of the poor were done collectively.

Was it a good system?
Yes it was a good system. They would take care of the poor and would plan to combine their works with the work of those who could bear the food expenses of the community. In this way they would help each other. They would never abuse a person for being poor. This was the spirit of sympathy and love for each other.

Numberdari! Is the arbobi (responsibilities of arbob) system an old one?
Yes the arbobi system comes from the ancient times. [The representative of the Mirs in the village was called arbob, when the state was abolished, arbob was then named as numberdar: representative of the Government.]

What used to be the main responsibilities and tasks of the arbob (Mir’s main representative in the village)?
The task of the arbob was that when the Mirs (rulers of Hunza state up to 1974) of Hunza would issue an order, the arbob would convey the orders to the people and would also implement the orders. Arbob would also schedule routine community works and would inform the community for execution of that work.
In ancient times the activities depended on the arbob. Whenever certain issues were required to be discussed, arbob would inform the community and all the people would gather in a charaman (threshing ground) and would discuss the issue. It was not like that to argue or contradict each other. First everyone would discuss the issue and if some person would come up with logical and reasonable solution everyone would accept it. They would pay complements for the right and logical solution. In this way the people would take decisions and implement the community works.
Section 4
In your view, does that unity still exists?
No I don’t see that unity today. The unity among our elders was quite special which does not exist today.

Would you like to tell or do you have a solution as to how should we exhibit that unity? Do you have an idea?
The solution is that if we bear in mind the advice of our ancestors…our seniors advise us and we follow in their footsteps. Only then could we be like those: like those nobles.

Did people travel more in former times or today?
Travelling is more frequent nowadays. It was less in former times. People travelled less, but in those days travelling was more enjoyable and much better than today because they had respect for their seniors. They would help the seniors crossing the rivers and streams. They would carry them on their back and would take them across the rivers. Similarly when they would reach at their camping places the young would collect wood and make the arrangements for fire for the seniors. In turn the seniors would spare some bread and would offer it to the young recognising their exertion. During the journeys our elders would give us their chugha (long woollen overcoat) for bedding, because there was no other bedding except chughas. We would spend the night with those chughas as there were no sleeping bags in those days. There was only chugha and we would use chugha as bedding. There used to be local shoes called sandal (long shoes made of animal skin). When sandal would break during the journey our seniors would mend it.

Were sandal worn in those days?
Yes sandal were used in those days.

Shafa janab! Have you ever travelled over Qaroon (a 5100 meter high pass, with no shade and water: considered to be the toughest trek in the area)?
Yes I have trekked over Qaroon. Many times I have trekked along with our seniors: trekked over Qaroon too and have also trekked four times over Avdegar (another difficult pass) with our elders.

How many days journey is it from Shimshal via Qaroon?
Under emergency conditions, a well-bodied person would reach Moorkhoon from Shimshal in one day. Normally it would take two days to reach Moorkhoon.

Do you visit Pamir (Shimshal’s mountain pastures)?
Yes I visit Pamir.

Why do you visit Pamir?
I visit Pamir because of my livestock.
Section 5
What benefits do you get from the livestock?
We get enormous benefits from the livestock; we make sharma (local woven carpet made of yak or goat hair) and use their meat on the occasion of marriages. In ancient times animal skins were expensive because they would make sandal for us out of it. Presently we sell the animal hide and earn a handsome amount to meet the educational expenses of our children.

In your opinion, would the benefit from Pamir continue or will it decrease in the years to come? What is your impression?
If we keep concentrating on Pamir it will continue to benefit us. Other than butter and qurut (local dried cheese), if we want, we can undertake agricultural activities there. We can obtain food grain from Pamir. Our ancestors were few in number but they continued growing crops in Pamir. If we maintain that tradition we can get more benefits. We have water mills there built by our ancestors. Rather than transport rations from Shimshal instead they would cultivate crops there and would grind the local production right there in the water mills.

Shafa janab, Other than zamindari (farming), what else do you like to do? What else you can do?
Other than zamindari, I do woodwork; I am a carpenter.

Are you a carpenter?
Yes I am a carpenter

From where did you learn this skill?
I learnt this skill in such a way that, late Sultan Ali came to our village as a carpenter, from Gulmit. Our fathers worked with him and we went with our fathers to the work place and observed the work and gradually we started working with them. In this way we got the opportunity to learn this work. We performed both stonework (dressing stone) and woodwork (carpenter). Since then I initiated this work.

Very well! Still you continue this work?
Yes please I still do the same job and have continued this work.

Shafa janab! Among the games, which game, do you like more?
Among games, I like polo the most, because polo had been very popular among our ancestors. Therefore I like it.

During a polo match, have you ever quarrelled?
I never quarrelled

Well: you never quarrelled?
No, I never, because I don’t like conflicts.
Section 6
Well Shafa! The road link is approaching our village, Are you happy with the immediate linkage of our village?
No doubt, I am very happy if the road links to our village, it will cause development in the village, it would replace the burden from my back (the load that people carry today on their back to transport daily commodities); miseries would be mitigated and prosperity would come. If we get disorganised we will loose and will become fragile.

Do we have educated young in our village? Has their education had any impact on the village? Is it so important to be educated?
It is most important to be educated. It has had a very good impact on our society. Because of the more educated persons in the village a lot of work is being done for the community. There exist a lot of changes in the village.

Which institution in our village renders the best service to the community?
In our village, volunteers and scouts render the best service for the community.

Shafa janab would you like your children to get a good education?
It is my immense desire that my children get a good education. I will do anything I can to facilitate them in getting a good education so that they could acquire higher education and could live a better life.

Foreigners visit our village, are you happy with this influx of foreigners?
I am happy with the inflow of tourists because it is a source of earning. Then our educated persons would know it better. It would be nice if our children could follow the guidance of our educated persons in this regard.

What will it matter, if foreigners do not come to our village?
It will matter a lot because we have very little employment opportunities.

Are the foreigners the main source of our earning?
Yes of course.

Do you also trek with the foreigners?
Yes please! I also travel with foreigners.

Did you witness any goodness in Engrez (literally, English: used to describe any foreigner)?
I have travelled so far with many Engrez, I witnessed much excellence in most of the foreigners but also some bad thing in some of the foreigners.

What bad and good things have you observed in foreigners?
I witnessed some foreigners that were aggressive and quarrelsome and also witnessed those foreigners who were very polite and nice people, they always lived happily.
Section 7
Shafa janab! There were no hospitals in former times, how would people treat the patients?
In ancient times, treatments were provided in such a way that there were no medicines available and people would treat the patient with warm water and would prepare moch (soup) or daghove (kind of soup: qurut mixed with water and butter) and would feed the patient. With this treatment the patients would recover from illness. During that time when sugar came in the market then people started treatment with the help of sugar. People would borrow sugar from each other for treatment. They would dissolve it in water and would give it to the patients. There were not so many diseases in former times and people would not suffer too much.

Would you tell me what the difference was between the dresses of former and modern times? Was the old dress good or is the modern dress good?
In my view the dress in ancient time was good because it was not so expensive. Nowadays, the clothes have more variety and hence are more expensive.

Would you tell me about the history of your ancestors, from where they had come?
Regarding our forefather Mamusing: he had come from Wakhan.

How many sons did our forefather Mamusing have?
Mamusing had only one son?

What was the name of his son?
Grandfather Sher.

Grandpa late Muhammad Ata (narrator’s father) had been a famous personality who had the predictions that people from the outside world would come to this village. Would you like to tell us about him? What else did he advise you?
My father would always tell us about this era, whatsoever is happening today. He was telling that when he planted apricot trees in one of his agriculture fields, the villagers expressed their disagreement that he was bringing about the starvation to his children and depriving them of the agriculture product. My father then told the people of his clan that he was not going to disadvantage his children. Instead people from outside will come there and would camp in the shade of this fruit garden and will pay for that. So there will be development and his children would earn money from that garden. Today we witness with our eyes that people from outside (foreigners) come here in this garden and we get the full benefit of it.

Yes I have also heard about this that people were not in agreement with grandfather on this issue?
Yes you are quite right.

Of course he was an intelligent man, what he planned has been achieved today and you people today get its fruit. What activity/task in your lifetime gave you happiness and pleasure?
In my lifetime I get the real happiness when I see my brothers happy. During travelling or in the playground when I see people in a happy mood, I get the real happiness.
Section 8
In former times, people used horns for drinking water; do you recall that era?
Yes I recall it quite well. There used to be horns belonging to each of the three clans. It was said that a certain horn belonged to a certain clan and all the horns belonged to the three clans. In one horn salt was dissolved for instant use and another horn was used for fetching water.

During that time did you ever experience the incident that people quarrelled over the use of horns?
No, there were no disputes. Some people possessed ibex horn some had yak horn but most of the people would use blue sheep’s horn. The horns had been marked with special signs just to identify them. Those people would not destroy the horns of each other, because they were honest people.

AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Programme) has done a lot of work in our village what is your impression, has AKRSP really carried out a lot of work in the village?
AKRSP has done a lot of work in our village.

Were you present on the occasion of the ground breaking ceremony of our link road?
I was not there when it was started for the first time.

Will you recall when the construction of our link road was started?
I don’t recall it as we had gone to Pamir with the survey of Pakistan team. From Pamir we dropped them at Passu and then I joined the construction work. Bahadur Khan had laid the foundation stone of our link road.

Bahadur Khan had laid the foundation stone of the link road?

In the Mir’s regime have you ever experienced state atrocity or cruelty? Or what was the system for our village?
In my lifetime as far as I remember, there was not so much hardship. Our fathers told us that there were more hardships in former times. When late Jamal Khan came to power he relaxed the hardships. After taking over the crown, he forgave the tax of yaks.

What kind of oppression was exercised in the era of our ancestors? What kind of labour they did? Do you know anything?
In our ancestor’s time wheat grains were transported to Hunza from Raskam. There were three kinds of yeelban (taxes paid to Mir). I myself also transported the tax over Qaroon during summer time and handed it over to the people in the Mir’s palace.

Our people used to transport the goods from Shimshal to the Mir’s palace?
Yes from Shimshal, they would carry it and would hand over it in the palace.
Section 9
So! In Mir Jamal Khan’s time all these things were discarded?
Yes, in Mir Jamal Khan’s time all these taxes were abandoned.

The history about Pamir is something like it was won through a polo match. What do you know about it?
I obtained the information from my father regarding this, that our grandfather Sher played polo when he came to Pamir and he had a dispute over the territory. Sher told them that he would win the Pamir if he drove the ball over to Warawo and will lose if Kyrgyz
drove the ball down to Gulchinwashk. Sher chose a yak and Kyrgyz chose a horse for the polo match. Our grandfather drove the ball over to Warawo and won the match. In this way our grandfather won the territory.

Our grandfather1, who came to Shimshal, was he the first to settle in Shimshal or there was some settlement before him? Our village was found already settled. When our grandfather came here and went to divert water. He diverted water, into the already built covered channel, and when he returned he saw water emerging from the ground at Shagoonkeshk. Since ancient time certain people were settled there. It is therefore known as Shagoonkeshk.

It is said about our grandfather that our grandmother was not on good terms with him. And then a saint appeared. Would you like to tell us about that?
Regarding that, I have the information that our grandmother was not on friendly terms with her husband, when a saint appeared, our grandmother went out of the house and called her husband, who was working in the field. She called! “Mamusing, come on”. Mamusing was surprised as to how his wife called him by his name. He quickly returned to his house and his wife told him that a saint had appeared. The saint touched the broken pot with his sacred stick, which became new and full of milk.

What belief do you have in the Qadamgah (place of footmarks) of Shams (a saint)?
I have a strong belief in Shams. Whenever there had been a dispute or disagreement in the village and people have inclined to Shams he always rewarded them with compassion.

Well Shafa janab, you are married and you have a daughter. Did you marry according to your own wishes or with the consent of your parents?
I married in accordance with the wishes of my parents. With the wishes of my father because my father and father in-law were very good friends and they cared for each other. My father asked me to marry the daughter of his friend so I honoured the words of my father and I told my father that I should marry her.
Section 10
Would you please tell me that marriages in former times were expensive or is it expensive today?
According to my estimation the marriages in former times were more expensive.

What was the custom of marriages in former times?
In old times, the practices in marriages were that 21 deg (cast iron cooking pot; 100-litre capacity) beth (local dish, wheat flour mixed with butter, water and salt served with mutton) were prepared, 25 goats were slaughtered. And clothes were made for about 20 persons, these dresses were called saripoi (decoration).

How do you view the present marriages?
In my view, the present marriages are very economical. Marriages in our village in former times used to be heavier (expensive).

Nomus (system of donating resources for a community development project in the name of a relative) is performed in our village, what benefits do we get from it?
From nomus we get a lot of benefits because we were being fed from nomus.

Was the nomus system an ancient custom or it began in middle age?
It comes from the ancient time. When our forefathers came here since then it functions. Whoever possessed excess wealth he offered it for nomus. Since ancient times until today the development in our village is being made through nomus. Through the system of nomus many houses, bridges and irrigation channels have been constructed so far.

Have you also performed nomus?
Yes we have also performed.

In whose name you have rendered nomus?
I rendered nomus in the name of my grandmother, my grandfather and my father. Similarly, I performed nomus, in the name of my mother.

What kind of nomus have you rendered?
I constructed the trek of Okhar Sar in the name of my grandmother, the house at Shpodin was constructed in the name of my mother. Again twice the Okhar Sar trek was reconstructed in the name of my grandfather.

You rendered these nomus! Are the people of your village happy?
Very happy; because the people of my village offer their lives (put themselves at risk) and I give a donation. My villagers volunteer for that work.

Should this custom be retained in the village forever?
It would be best if this custom is retained forever. It will benefit the village. Because livestock are the products of this village it would be better if we spend it on the development of the village. If I spend something for my life, that is not so good because that is only for my (individual) life.
Section 11
We have a dispensary here and your house is close to it. How do you feel, is this dispensary in good condition? Do you often visit it?
Our dispensary! It is in good condition, our own doctor (dispenser) he gives the best treatment. Anyhow, our villagers get the treatment.

Well Shafa! In which development works did you take part?
I took part in the construction works of houses, trails and bridges.

Do you have the desire to spare more time for the villagers (community works) in future?
It is my wish to serve my village to the best of my capabilities, as long as I am alive. I have a great interest for such works.

Shafa janab! You do business, would you like to do business in the village or in city?
I like to do business in my village.

What is the reason for that?
The reason is that while living comfortably in my home I will do business instead of going out of the village. I will work (do business) for the benefit of my village. Business is quite profitable.

Is business profitable?
It is very profitable.

Should everyone do some business?
Everyone should do business. If they could do they should initiate with small businesses. It is profitable.

Shafa janab, you had brought (purchased) an electric grinding machine. Does it benefit you?
At present the machine does not benefit me more, owing to increased load (many houses) the electricity is weak (low voltage). My machine is standing still due to the unavailability of electricity.

You grow more potato, why and for what?
I grow more potato for my family and for the livestock?

You get more benefit from potato?
Yes it gives me more profit.
Section 12
Shafa janab! What is the system of wood? From where do you get the firewood?
We use the firewood from our own jungle (forest). We have our own jungles. We irrigate our jungles on time and shrubs grow and gradually we cut them for making firewood. We use the firewood with great caution.

In agriculture what points need more attention: the fertiliser, timely watering or the wild grasses?
In agriculture one has to give first of all the fertiliser then watering and at the end should clear the grasses if one can afford to.

You have plans to construct a hotel when the road is through?
It is my intention, if I am not dead, I will construct a hotel in some outskirts.

The foreigners who come to our village, with them do we have any climber from our village?
Yes we do have many climbers from this village.

Among them who is the first climber of our village? Would you like to tell something?
Among them the first climber of our village is Rajab Shah.

The first climber is Rajab Shah?
Yes he is the first climber.

Has Rajab any more disciples?
Yes he has more disciples.

In former times while going down to Passu one had to cross the river several times. Have you ever crossed the river?
I have also crossed that river in my lifetime.

How many times did one used to cross the river?
From Shimshal to Passu one had to cross the river for 27 times.

For what purpose did people used to go to Passu?
We used to go to Passu for the purpose of delivery of Mir’s load (tax). In spring season we would go to bring dried apricot.

Why would you bring dried apricots?
We would bring them to eat on the occasion of delivering fertiliser [to our fields]. Moch (local soup) was prepared from the dried apricots. There were no system of tea, we would bring dried apricots and would use them during cultivation time.

Was the clan wise fertiliser delivery system from the ancient time or it initiated in your lifetime?
It was from former times.
Section 13
In former times what was the system of cultivation?
During cultivation there used to be moch in the morning [for breakfast], molida (local dish; bread mixed with qurut and butter) for lunch and bread called patock in the evening.

In ancient times during construction of a house was there any contribution from outside (the wider community)?
Yes there was contribution from outside, which still exists. First every house would bring a commodity, followed by molida and at the end shulbooth (local dish) were prepared in the newly constructed house. People would return to their houses after taking this food.

When did you listen to the radio for the first time?
I listened to the radio, which my father brought to the village for the first time, and then I listened. At that time I would only listen to the voice, but could not understand the language as to what language it was using, because I didn’t know the language (Urdu). We started learning Urdu since the time of the deployment of military in Shimshal. In this way we learnt the words of Urdu.

Do you still listen to the radio?

Is listening to the radio good? Why it is good?
Listening to the radio is good. It is good because we get informed about the world.

Do you like the tape recorder?
No I don’t like the tape recorder so much. I like the radio.

In old times there have been some famous swimmers of our village. Would you mention a few names of those great people?
Among those I know these people: Mohammed Fida, Ghazi Karim: these were the best swimmers.

Shafa janab, during your childhood, would you mostly live in Shimshal or Pamir?
I would mostly live in Pamir in my childhood.

In those days children would mostly live with their parents?
Yes I would live with my parents in Pamir.

What kind of life did you live in Pamir?
We had named Pamir as wilayat (place of prosperity). We would live there with yaks; our task [as children] was to take yaks with us to midway for riding of those who would visit Pamir. We would happily go to Qashsar and Yaz to bring yaks. We would go even barefooted, as there was no arrangement of shoes. Riding of yaks and collection of the violets were the happiest events for us and we didn’t even care for the food.
Section 14
In those days had you ever gone for the grazing of yaks and goats?
Yes I had also participated with my friends

It is long since you have not been to Pamir. Do you recollect the days in Pamir?
I recall those early days of Pamir. Recently I had been to Pamir but it is not like that Pamir, which used to be in former times. We lived a very happy life in those days. At night we would guard the livestock (against the wolf) and would enjoy it. When someone would come from the village then we would go as far as Paryen Sar to welcome them and would also take the yaks for their riding.

In our Pamir the kidnapping of our people has occurred frequently. Has any such incident occurred in your lifetime?
There were a few incidents in my lifetime. When we arrived at Shuwert, we were told that the Chinese have raided Pamir. Our people named them Chipits (term for Chinese raiders). When they came on horseback we were not afraid of them though we were too young. They came and gave us mithai (sweets). The word mithai was not known to us, we would call it gote-shakar (sugar-sweet). In my lifetime the Chipits came three times to Pamir.

Did the Chinese ill-treat our people after kidnapping?
No they were never victimised. Only their faces were covered with their caps so that they could not see the places and after sometime they were safely returned.

Were the Kyrgyz (from Chinese Turkistan) people called Chipits?
Yes! Kyrgyz people were called Chipits.

When Pamir was not in our possession then where did our kooch live?
When Pamir was not in our possession our kooch would live in Ghujerab and also in Shujerab.

So Ghujerab and Shujerab have been our old Pamirs?
Yes please

Where is your kooch at present?
My kooch is in Ghujerab at present.

For how many years have you been living in Ghujerab?
For 28 years we have been living in Ghujerab.
Section 15
Why do you like Ghujerab?
I like it because I live there. I do not like this village (Shimshal) as much as I like Ghujerab, because I earn my subsistence from there. Therefore I like Ghujerab.

Are you still optimistic about living there to promote your livestock?
It is my wish that as long as I am alive I will live there. I have the request to all my villagers to advise their children to sustain their homeland like me because it gives us immense benefit.

Hospitality is the best culture of our village. Do you like hospitality?
I too, like hospitality very much. I wish I could offer even my life for the cause of hospitality but I can’t do it.

The people from outside when they visit our village, they get a friendly impression of our culture. What do you think, will we be able to retain it?
If we will follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and take advice from the seniors it would benefit us.

We have plenty of wasteland. Would you like to irrigate them and make plantation on such lands?
It is my immense desire to irrigate them. During my frequent visits to Ghujerab, I constructed seven, eight irrigation channels. When I went and saw the channels made by our ancestors, their capacities had been reduced due to lack of maintenance and growth of wild grass, I thought that it would not fulfil our requirement. Therefore I constructed seven more channels.

Have you been to Sherbloq? How far is it?
I have been even to Sherelik (the last pasture at Chinese boundary). Sherbloq (a wasteland) is a place like our village, if our villagers build a channel there it would benefit us more.

What is your hope for the future in terms of how we would get organised? And which project should we take up on first priority? What project would be better?
The first task is to irrigate the wastelands so that we should not face the paucity of land.

In ancient times people would praise each other. Would you like to tell who was the best poet and the best singer?
In those days there was my uncle Shireen Shah who praised all those brothers who possessed any skill or expertise. He highlighted that skill in his poetry. Some were architect, carpenter and some were brave (climbers, swimmers etc), so he praised all of them.

Is education very important? How many educated persons do you have in your house?
In my house: almost a few are educated.
Section 16
If tourists do not visit our village how would we meet the expenses of our tea and salt (daily needs)?
If tourists do not visit our village, we would meet the daily use expenses through the sale of our livestock.

Do you face any problems when you sell your livestock in the market?
We face a lot of problems because when there is demand in the market our livestock remain at Pamir and when our livestock are ready for sale the demand has reduced as a lot of livestock have already been sold in the market from other areas. In this way we do not get a good price for our livestock and this is our problem.

Do you have any idea for that as to how we should market them?
I have an idea for that! If we make some organisation and contact a contractor through some institution only then would be we successful.

Shafa janab! In old times people would trap markhor (wild mountain goat) to get meat. How they would trap them?
They would do it with the help of a plank and a rope called dhong (net) and place it in the passage. When an animal would pass through the passage it would trap the animal. The rope was netted in such a way that a piece of rope and wood would remain attached with the animal and when the animal would run, the piece of wood would hit the animal until it is exhausted and killed.

Shafa janab! From the old songs do you like any song?
From the old songs I like to listen to anar-e-shireen (the sweet pomegranate)

Would you like to sing me anar-e-shireen?
Yes please! The theme! The poet praises his beloved and is likening her beauty to the flowers, to the fascinating beauty of its landscape and to the beautiful bird: “the goose” which comes from the sky and lands for a while. The poet does not like to name directly his beloved so expressed her beauty by resembling her with these things.

Shafa janab! Was this the anar-e-shireen your favourite song?
Yes it was my favourite song.

Is singing a song good?
Yes singing a song is good because it gives a man pleasure.

Who was your best friend that would enjoy singing with you?
All those are my yarbar (best friends) with whom I have the similarity of thoughts and ideas.
Section 17
You have travelled a lot, which one was the best journey?
Though I have travelled a lot but the journey with our seniors to Sherlakhsh on a nomus expedition to build an irrigation channel was momentous and historic. After that the construction of a bridge - the nomus of grandfather khalifa (local religious leader) Rehman Beg, for which the logs were transported from Shimshal that was also eventful as I was quite young at that time.

While being with the seniors how would you enjoy [yourselves]?
We enjoyed being with our seniors by singing songs, by rope-pulling competition and by riding yaks. In this way we enjoyed a lot.

In those days, there used to be more respect. Did you enjoy the respect for being with the seniors?
We got a lot of respect! Uncle Imanullah had 10 yaks at that time and he brought all of them to Forzeenbad (place) for our riding. We rode on the yaks right back from Forzeenban to Sherlakhsh. Customarily those who possessed yaks would walk on foot and those without yaks were invited to ride.

For this enjoyment other people come to our village because they themselves have forgotten their cultures. Would you like to give any useful information (advice) for retaining this culture?
For that, I have a lot of information but if my children (youth) ask me, then they can also share that pleasure, if they ask us, because the happiness persists only when we interact with each other. Otherwise it is lost.

As our elders respected each other, like wise, would it be better if our youth give time for each other (interact)?
I do have the same thinking that our youth should sit together and should listen to the seniors and follow their footsteps so that they could get the real pleasure. Even if one is educated he should not forget his culture. We inherited this from our elders and our young should own it from us only then we can retain that pleasure. If they do not discuss and practice, it would be lost very soon.

Shafa janab! In your view, what services does the Arbitration Committee render for our village?
It resolves our disputes.

In your view, is it better to take a dispute to the Arbitration Committee or to go to the court of law of the state?
In my view our Arbitration Committee is the best. They mediate in accordance with the principles of our ancestors but if we approach the government (court) every one would suffer.
Section 18
Have you ever approached the Arbitration Committee for any dispute?
I have never had a major dispute, however for very ordinary conflicts, I have been to the Arbitration Committee, but arbitration is very good for us. It is better for our homeland.

Shafa janab! Would you tell, what expectation do you have from the young generation?
I have the expectations from the young generation that if they carried the customs and traditions of their ancestors and worked accordingly, then they would be successful. But if they followed the government or acted according to their own knowledge, they would not be successful.

Pamir is a good piece of land of ours. Do you have any struggle over inclusion of this land in the so-called National Park?
We left this matter to our educated persons to decide, but when someone talks about the National Park it looks as if we are being slaughtered, making it a national park is our genocide. We have earned and still benefit from it. Implementation of the National Park is like slaughtering us. It seems to me that if our area becomes part of the National Park, then there is no charm for life.

So! You don’t want to loose your control and legitimate rights on your land?
Exactly, I would never like anybody to get control of my land.

In this connection, what is your intention! Should we initiate dialogue with the government on the issue or simply resist its implementation?
In this connection I think we should follow our educated brothers - whatever they would suggest to us we should follow their footsteps and should support their decisions and should carry on the task.

Have you ever trekked with a tourist as a porter?
I have trekked several times as a porter.

During the trek have you ever faced an unpleasant incident?
During a trek to Chafchingole I came across the worst incident of my life, Mehboob was also accompanying me. During the trek I fell down to a crevasse (glacier crack) about 12 metres deep but luckily the safety rope remained tied to one of my wrists and one end of the rope was held by an Engrez. When our people tried to pull the rope they felt it weightless and lost the hope for my safe recovery but on the instructions of the tourist they kept on pulling the rope till I came out of the crevasse. This incident happened to me.

How do you view the porter system in our village? Is it good or bad?
The system of portering in our village is good.

Are you satisfied with this system?
I am satisfied with this system. It is a good system.
Section 19
At present people think that the rates are very low. What do you think?
Rates are low but I think that if the rates are raised, fewer tourists will come. If rates are low more tourists will come and we will get more earning opportunities. For high rates few people will come hence less earning.

Most of the tourist camps in your garden cause pollution due to solid waste. How do you feel about that?
According to my assessment this year tourists polluted my garden. Before few tourists would come and pollution was not so obvious but this year due to an influx of more tourists we faced a lot of problems in disposing of the waste.

What measures for this should we take in future?
We should be very careful about it and should arrange garbage drums so that the solid waste is accumulated in it and is burnt out quickly, then it is possible to overcome the problem. By the way it is also the routine of our children to throw away the wrapping paper of sweet etc. It is almost the routine of everyone whether it is a piece of cloth or a plastic shopper we should not make our village polluted instead we should burn it properly. Right from Pamir to Shimshal we should clean even the trek (all the way) and burn it. In this way we can keep our village clean.

If our village is kept clean by us then….?
Exactly, then others (tourists) will not spoil our village. First we should educate our children and women to collect the piece of cloths and plastic bags and burn them.

What is the water supply system? From where do you bring water for daily use? From where does your family fetch water?
In old times I would use water from the open channel close to my house, but currently due to more pollution around the channels, we bring water from the spring.

How far is the spring from your house?
It is at about half an hours walking distance. My family fetches water in half an hour.

So the problem of water….?
Fetching water is a big problem. In our village we have a lot of problems regarding potable water. For this reason our women suffer with pneumonia because in winter they fetch water from the river, and this time (summer) from the spring. All these diseases to our women are caused by the use of steel water containers.

So Shafa janab in former times how would our mothers and grandmothers fetch water?
In ancient times, the women would bring water in cooking pots on their shoulders and would store it in big cooking pots.

In ancient times how would you carry the fertiliser to the fields?
In ancient times we would carry fertiliser in baskets. A piece of carpet was kept under the basket so that our neck is safeguarded from dust. Later on wheel barrows were introduced now we use hand carriages.
Section 20
In former days there used to be no spades then how would you load the fertiliser?
Pey (spades) were made of wood, and fertiliser was loaded with the help of pey, it must be present somewhere in somebody’s house even today but today probably we would not be able to handle it, it would be too heavy.

Shafa janab please tell us that traditionally, how many kinds of dishes were prepared in ancient times?
In ancient times molida, mool (local dish; bread mixed with qurut and butter), chilpindok (large chapattis spread with qurut and butter stacked in piles), garal (pancake-like bread made from what flour), kafdiatk (local dish made of bread, butter and qurut) etc. were prepared.

Out of these foods which one did you like the best?
Out of these dishes I like kafdiatk very much. I like kafdiatk.

What do you like from the present dishes?
From the present dishes, I like mutton.

Presently tea is used as popular drink. Do you also use tea excessively?
At present I use tea excessively. In the morning I take only tea.

How do you view, is the use of tea good or bad?
If tea is used with fresh milk it is good but it is not good with dried milk powder.

Shafa janab I think in our society, tea is not good. What is your impression?
I am also of the same opinion that tea is not so good. It would be nice if we practiced our traditional moch instead of tea. If we regularly use moch it would be good for health.

Would you like to tell what were the reasons for good health in former times?
The reason for good health was that they would use moch in excess. The use of moch made their body strong and healthy.

Do you also use moch frequently?
I use moch frequently. Mostly I consume qurut and meat in moch and I noticed that it keeps me quite healthy.

Another question is that, Tagam (sowing festival) is one of our splendid customs. So what are the main events to be accomplished?
In celebrating Tagam, first of all Shogoonpathok (person designated to inaugurate festivals, hereditary position) would bring branches of juniper and willow trees and stock it in his house. Then the seniors would gather in his house and would make pieces of the branches and stock them in a place. Then the process of toman (smoke from burning juniper branches used for purification) would start. The purpose of making smoke was to purify their fields. Just after toman all of them would go to the sowing field and inaugurate cultivation, each one would take part by putting his hand to the plough to undertake the task. They would also put the hands of their children to the plough. This would formally commence the cultivation. This day is a shogoon (purifying) day for all and this is our Tagam.
Section 21
What is the custom and tradition of Wulyo? Would you like to tell us the difference between ancient and modern practice of Wulyo?
The practice in ancient times were that from the village shartwurza (guests of the year) would go to Pamir, our seniors would take them to the riverbank with an orchestra and would see them off with great respect and honour, from there the trek to Pamir starts. When shartwurza is set out from the village for Pamir, the elite at Pamir would instruct the young to take with them yaks down to Shujerab for the reception of shartwurza. We would take yaks for their riding as far as Wilyodasht. Prior to our arrival they would shave and would change cloths and would get ready and the remaining journey we would ride yaks. When shartwurza would reach Pamir our seniors would welcome them and inquire about the salient news of the village. They would inquire about their fields and the crops, because it was not like today, the only news they could provide was about the village and about the Mir of Hunza, provided somebody had recently visited them and had brought some orders of the Mir.
After accomplishing the protocol discussion the most seniors would decorate them with a garland of flowers and would arrange a musical party. If numberdar (village chief) were present there he would first invite the shartwurza and then the most senior would invite them to banquet. In this way three consecutive days every household at Pamir would host them. After three days they would participate in Wulyo celebration (excursion). They would select the yaks with fast speed for riding of shartwurza. Similarly everyone would offer their yaks for them to riding. Whenever somebody would fall down from the yak their white cloths would get dirty with the reddish coloured soil.
When the shartwurza would return to Shimshal from Pamir the seniors of the village would go to the riverbank with the orchestra to give them a warm reception. In turn the shartwurza would bring fresh butter and qurut from Pamir. Similarly all of them would gather in a charaman and a senior of the village would take out pathok (offering; wheat flour thrown at the entrance as a gesture of good luck) and would carry with him the fresh butter into the house in accordance with the old custom. In this way they would mix the fresh butter with the new crops and would eat it. This particular custom was called Shegd-paghash-diyetk (tasting of the new crop). On this occasion we would enjoy quite a lot.
Section 22
Would they bring fresh butter from Pamir?
Yes they would bring from Pamir.

Do you think we should maintain it even today?
At present life has become too busy. Most of our young are in pardes (places outside the area); some are busy with their education and some people remains busy with trekking. Due to that a few people remain available at Pamir and the elders too, do not go to Pamir therefore the custom is weakening with the passage of time. But I wish that our youth should take advice from the elders and strengthen their tradition. Then it would be better for them. This event used to be the happiest occasion for us [it was] like a celebration for us. We would celebrate for about three, four days. We would remain so busy that we could hardly find time to eat because we were enjoying the event. Nowadays life is busy and people even don’t know when the Chaneer celebration takes place. But the feeling of unenthusiastic celebration makes us, the elders, unhappy and disappointed.

Does it need unity…?
Yes it needs much unity. There is a need for the young to get advice from the elder and should listen to them, even the educated should also follow the instructions of the elders. Only then they will maintain that happiness and will live happy forever and all those who are educated and those possessed skills will lead a happy life. To live a happy life is good, it is not bad because happiness brings people together and keeps away from worries.

Shafa janab you are carpenter. What else can you do?
I can spin threads for sharma and my brother weaves sharma. If I want I can weave sharma too.

Is sharma profitable for you?
Yes it is profitable for me because when I sell it in the market I can get 7, 8 thousand rupees per sharma. So it is profitable.

Which sharma is the best, made from yak’s hair or from goat’s hair?
Sharma from yak’s hair is the best. We still use the sharma made by our forefathers. It lasts for many generations. But the sharma from goat’s hair has not so long life but it is still much better than the synthetic carpets. We should not waste the hair of yak and goat instead we should make sharma from it.

So, thank you Shafa janab, for the cooperation you extended in providing very useful information to the organisations of PANOS and SNT. I am sitting with Shafa janab in his room, which is very cosy and peaceful. His house is surrounded by green fields and fruit garden with apple trees, creating a fascinating environment. So once again I thank Shafa janab for the valuable information he conveyed to our organisation.
To the best of my capabilities I will continue to cooperate with you. If I could do I will be happy to provide you the information. My cooperation will always remain with you.
Section 23
Shafa janab thank you very much, your information would be helpful for our institutions and our future, as you told that unity begets love.
1 People refer to Mamusing their ancestor who settled in Shimshal several centuries ago as grandfather, and his wife as grandmother.