Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












30 June 2000



Section 1
How are you brother?
I am quite well.

First of all I will ask your good name?
My name is Bari. My profession is mountain climbing.

When did you start climbing?
I started climbing from a very early age.

Why did you choose this line?
I was eager to learn climbing from my childhood, because my family had climbers and they used to climb so I selected this profession following in their footprints.

How do you feel? Is this an easy job or a difficult one?
Generally, climbing is a hard job, but climbers from Shimshal are mostly forward liners.

Does climbing benefit you more?
I belong to a poor family. Climbing pays me much more. Besides, I am fond of climbing, crossing summits.

Are your parents satisfied with your income?
Of course, they are.

Can you tell me have you ever worked as porter, what was your age then?
Yes I worked as porter, when I was about 18 or 19. At that time we were constructing the AKRSP sponsored road.

Had you faced any incidence when you were a porter?
Yes then I was too young. We were busy on the construction work of the road. Some tourists came and they hired some porters from our village. I was too young, I was rejected. As I became disheartened and I wept, for, I was an orphan too. The tourists then gave me some loads. When the expedition reached Malungodi then the tourists paid me much more than the others. They said this young boy is brave.

How do you see the future, how should this porter system be?
First of all roads are important. In Shimshal this system, if improved, can benefit more people.
Section 2
Well brother, which games did you play in childhood?
Tukbalbal (cap-snatching game), Jung (war/battle), kurmumic (hide and seek game) were the games.

Which one of the games did you like more?
I like cricket.

Why do you like cricket?
Because the majority likes it. So do I too.

Are you a batsman or bowler? Which role do you play?
I am a batsman.

When you are in the playground how do you feel? Do you become emotional?
Yes! During games usually I become serious.

In our village, development activities take place at large. Have you ever participated?
I am a scout in Shimshal. Though I worked less as a scout but I worked much in the road construction.

Have you played any important role for scouting?
During the time that scouting furniture was delivered to DJ and Government School, Wayan-ban Bridge and in Cowk a building was constructed.

Would you participate in such activities again?
I have been nominated in the AKRSP committee. I hope I would serve better.

Well, what do you feel for the road. Is it good or bad?
The road is very important. If we have a road we will not simply rely on tourism but sell our surplus potatoes, too.

Do you think that with the road, disturbances will also come to village?
Yes, problems will be there. Accidents will occur, but with mobilisation, development will be there too.

In our village electricity has arrived. Are you happy with that?
Yes I am very much happy.

Why you are happy?
Because when I return from work, I relax, I enjoy listening to music/songs, also my children study in light.

Do you like to listen to the radio?
Yes I do.

Why do you listen to the radio?
Because I educate myself about world affairs, we have no other means for entertainment.
Section 3
Another question, how many climbers are there in this village?
Too many! I claim in Pakistan, climbers from Shimshal are the highest in number.

If tourists don't come to our village will there be any problem?
Of course! Our income will decrease! This year I am in trouble due to fewer expeditions.

What kind of traditions and customs prevail in our village?
Tagam (sowing festival), Shegd-tar-charaman (festival celebrating the moment when the new crop is taken to the threshing field), Kethedith (Spring festival), etc.

Which one of these do you like more, and why?
Among these I like Tagam more, it is a beautiful custom. On this occasion we celebrate the custom of seed broadcasting (sowing).

Well Bari, are you married?
Yes I am.

Is that a love marriage or an arranged one?
It is an arranged one, my mother helped me.

In ancient times woollen clothes were worn. Have you ever worn woollen clothes?
Yes they were but I never saw and wore such cloths. I have worn modern clothes, even these clothes were torn because I was an orphan.

Which one is better, todayís or ancient clothes?
For todayís age, modern clothes are better but are costly. Ancient clothes were useful but modern ones are better.

Which one of songs of old ages do you like more?
Anaar Shirin.

M. Bari have you got any education?

Do you wish to educate [your] children?
I would try to educate them.

M. Bari do you go to Pamir (Shimshalís mountain pastures) and if yes why?
I like Pamir because it is very beautiful place.

What you get from Pamir?
We get butter from Pamir as our livestock are there in pasture. We make palos (local woven carpet made of yak or goat hair), we sell them and earn money. All these things we get from Pamir.

Would you tell us when you got sick in life?
Yes firstly when I was a child I got sick. My mother brought me to the village from Pamir. Later I fell sick in Karachi, seriously.
Section 4
Why were you in Karachi?
I went to Karachi with my brother, as he was ill we went there for his treatment.

M. Bari do you do farming?
Yes I do farming.

How do you feel about farming?
It is good. 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].

Along with farming do you like plantation?
I like plantation very much.

Which type of plants do you plant?
Fruit trees I plant more.

What benefits do fruit trees give?
Although they do not give immediately, however, in the longer term fruit trees are useful. Children get fruit. But there is no chance of earning money from fruit in our village.

We have a large number of food varieties which one do you like more?
I like vegetables, potatoes, etc. very much.

Would you tell me what food other than potatoes do our parents cook?
With potatoes, molida (local dish; bread mixed with qurut Ė local dried cheese - and butter), chilpindok (large chapattis spread with qurut and butter stacked in piles), garal (pancake-like bread made from what flour) we use excessively.

Which one do you like more?
Among these I like garal more.

How do you treat your brothers in daily routine, whether with love or hate?
I treat them with affection even if they are idle, for they could improve.

Why do you treat them with love?
Because I feel if I treat them poorly they would be more exploited. Other wise they would like to work more.

Which place do you like more Aminabad, Khizerabad or central Shimshal?
I like Aminabad more

Why do you like Aminabad more?
Because in Aminabad water is affluently available. There is no quarrel over water supply. People are relaxed.

Have you reached the summit of a mountain before?
Yes I have, I apologise for talking in a hurry. Our best climber is Rajab Shah janab (Mr, sir). He trained us on Mulangudi (a glacier) for a week. He produced pupils. He took us to Passu Peak I worked hard. He took us up to the summit. It was only by his help. You are aware that he is the first Pakistani who has reached the summit of five peaks of 8000metres. With his help I saw many places outside.
Section 5
Do you work on lines taught by your trainer/master or have you adopted your own ideas too?
What he taught me is best. Tourism companies are happy with my performance. I work on these lines.

Do you wish to do business?
I want to do business but I am handicapped. I am illiterate.

In Pamir, do you like riding on yaks during Wulyo (festival celebrated in Pamir)?
I used to go Pamir frequently during my childhood, but not nowadays. To participate in Wulyo I used to go Pamir especially to ride on yaks.

How do you like to go Pamir? Whether with parents or with friends?
In fact parentís presence in Pamir is necessary. But travelling with friends gives enjoyment. Living there with parents and friends in that beautiful place is really good.

Well! Bari do you recall a past time?
Not really.

Whether people of the past were good or people of today?
People of past days.

Why were they good?
Because they respected each other. Their elders were given full respect. Nowadays people don't care for each other.

What did the people of old ages used to wear?
They wore woollen cloths.

Would you like to tell us the name of our forefather who came to this place first?
His name was Mamusing.

Was he alone or did somebody accompany him?
He came with his wife.

How many sons did Mamusing have?
He had one son.

What was his name?
His name was Sher.

People say that Mamusingís son earned this Pamir for us? How did it happen?
We have heard that he played Polo and got Pamir for us. The Chinese came to Shuwert and challenged us for polo. They rode on horses, while Sher rode on a yak ultimately our forefather won the polo.
Section 6
How do you feel when you meet a Wakhi speaking person?
I feel glad, especially in a city when I meet a Wakhi speaking person, I really feel pleasure.

What is the role of AKRSP in the development of Shimshal?
AKRSP first started the road that is working till now. Had AKRSP not started this work the government would have never constructed the road for us.

Had AKRSP not constructed the road for us would it have been possible for this road to be completed?
Never, because the government did not start earlier. AKRSP initiated the work, people worked hard, then the government accepted the road, earlier government had refused.

Can you tell us about any person from your family who could cross the river?
In our family a strong man called uncle Abul Faiz used to cross the river skilfully. He was well known.

When did he cross the river?
He helped people cross the river when there was a flood in it. The flood broke, strong people were in trouble, and he helped.

Had he done any remarkable job?
He was also a good player of the tug-of-war game, due to his participation in the team our village team won the tournament in Gulmit. Along with him was Uncle Saeed Mohd. Rahimullah, and Saeed Baig are well known too.

Can you tell us what you want to do in the future?
In the coming days I want to produce potatoes and sell them to earn money for education of my children. In this way I will prosper.

M. Bari who is your best friend?
Sujjad Mehdi is my best friend

Who is Sajjad Mehdi?
He is a farmer.

When did your friendship start?
We are friends from childhood.

Apart from him is there any other friend of yours?
Yes, Amin, Qudrat are good friends of mine.

Do you like it that you always had good understanding with friends?

Why do people make friends?
Because in need friends help and friendship is a precious relationship.

M. Bari, tell us if your mother is angry would you face her in a good mood or in an emotional one?
I will face her with a smiling face
Section 7
Why will you?
After all she is my mother, what else I can do

If your wife beats children do you become emotional?
Of course I become emotional. It is the duty of a mother that she teaches children values, norms and respect for each other.

Why do you become angry?
I become angry only when she mishandles them. Children should not be mishandled, rather cared for and taught with love and affection.

Does your daughter go to school?
Yes she goes.

How is she in her school?
I don't know about her studies because I am illiterate. However, I feel that she is good in her studies.

How is your son in his studies. Does he play any game?
My son also shows interest in books. He copies his sister in studies.

Did you ever quarrel in childhood?
Yes I did.

With whom?
In early childhood, I quarrelled with Ghulam Shah due to jumping over his "Yistin". He did not allow me to jump and so I did. Resultantly we quarrelled.

Had you ever done vingas shpunig (guarding the crops against the sparrows)?

Did you do vingas shpunig in the core area of Shimshal or Aminabad?
In Aminabad we had to wage war. We used to take shpunig by becoming "Pusth Ber and Wootch Bar". I used to detract from my duties and run in the fields after the birds by taking in my hands a long stick and not caring about damage to the crops.

In Shimshal who is the most respectable elder to you?
Among our elders Dada Qaim is respectable for me.

What is the age of Dada Qaim?
He is about 85/90 years.
Section 8
Why he is respected more?
Because he is my neighbour. I use to sit with him. He tells about his past.

Neighbourhood is an important relationship. How do you tackle the issue when your children quarrel with others in the neighbourhood.
What can I do, children are children after all, what to expect?

M. Bari people say that while climbing on mountains an individual feels fear. Have you ever felt so?
Yes, I have felt so. When I started climbing. It was my first year. I climbed at camp four and stayed for two days. Some tourists were also there. One night we all were sleeping, somebody awoke me. I was lying towards the door inside the tent. I rose and looked around but failed to see anybody. It happened twice, we have a Balti porter with us. He replaced me. I didn't tell him but after some while he awoke afraid. I solaced him but repeatedly he was awoken. In the morning, a tourist asked us! Why did you come to our tent? We regretted and asked them if they had come to ours. We were sceptical as to whether somebody or something had disturbed us. Later on another tourist come to us and told that in this place people have been often disturbed by some supernatural thing. People die in this place and their souls used to come and disturb people and tourists.

At what height had you reached at that time?
We were sleeping at 7200 metres above sea level.

Have you faced any difficulty on the return?
Generally, while dismounting, we don't face any difficulty. Rather we face difficulty in climbing as we come down slowly and easily. In climbing we face difficulty for lack of oxygen.

Have you ever been disturbed of height?
Not at all.

It means that you are fit for height.
Yes till now I am fit.

M. Bari have you been exposed to any accident while climbing?
Somehow my brother! When I was at camp four the Korean team went for the summit and they returned due to bad weather. They did not stop at camp four and dismounted towards camp three. I didnít have any lighter with me, I asked one of my colleagues. One refused, despite having two lighters with him. Another one gave me. After handing over the lighter he continued dismounting. After five steps he slipped and fell down. When I reached base camp he was buried in the snow. We could not find his body. The group decided to go to camp two. I reached early and I waited for them. Meanwhile I found the body, it was lying annexed to me. Once I decided to go to camp once but changed my decision. I waited but slept that night. It was dangerous night of my life sleeping alone with a dead body.

What happens to such dead bodies on mountains?
It is necessary that the team should take care of such bodies. First of all such bodies should be brought to base camp and later to outside Ministry which should also handle such cases.
Section 9
Well brother! What impact have the educated people put on over society in the village?
Well brother! Educated and literate people, like Johar Ali janab, Muzaffar-ud-Din, Inayat Ali and Khaliq bring for us developmental activities.

To you what is the use of education, whether just for reading or for any benefit too?
To become intellectual and deal with people properly. We are handicapped to deal with different people. But our educated people deal with others with good manners. Educated people know each other and respect each other.

Have you ever tracked towards Chavchingol?
Yes I have.

How may times?
About four, five or six times.

Is that an easy or difficult journey?
Chavchingol is a hard journey. I did a mistake in life, there is a dut (cable way) at Varbeen. It was high, then I was young. We went to Chavchingol. Uncle Saeed Baig was with us. There I took a foolish step I crossed the dut without string while all people crossed with help of string. When I crossed I felt pride and expected to be appreciated. Unexpectedly Uncle Saeed Beg slapped me on my face. I was hurt, later I realised I was wrong. I took a foolish step. When I was crossing the river water touched my back that was dangerous. Now, whenever I go in such places I care for safety.

What is the height of Chavchingol?
Its height is 5100 metres.

Beyond Chavchingol which is the village?
The way goes to Kook Sell. Kook Sell belongs to people of Morkhun and Sost.

Which other peaks are here in this place where we can guide tourists?
Pamir, it is a beautiful viewpoint. There are lakes and scenic places in Pamir. You can see beautiful mountains. You can enjoy life in green fields.

Bari can you tell me which is the highest mountain in our village?
Dastagirsar and Kunjlukshgar

What was your age when the flood came?
I donít remember.

Then have you heard from somebody about the flood?
Our elders told us about that flood which caused heavy damages, to our village. It swept all trace of our village.

Dear brother do you wish for a vehicle?
I wish to buy a vehicle but my brother and I have not any savings. If I could educate my children well, certainly there would be one, two or three vehicles standing at my door.
Section 10
I liked your room very much. How did you think to construct [it] and why?
I constructed this room because I have a large number of relatives outside this village mostly in Ghulkin and Hussani etc. I constructed this separate room thinking that if they come to me they do not feel any disgrace. Secondly, my children could study easily and my brother could study here without disturbance.

Would you like to tell to your brother whether you have planned to get your brothers married?
Till now I have left brothers free. First of all I gave them the chance to learn. I sent one brother to Gulmit but he did not like to study. However I gave [him] a chance as it was my duty. I have given him a free hand in his marriage too. I will help them in getting married.

M. Bari, Abdul is one of your brothers, Sabit is also one, what are they doing?
My brothers they are also like me. Usually younger brothers follow their elder. Once I had adopted climbing, Sabit also chose that line. Younger brother has received training of gold extraction. Insha-allah (God willing) I would buy a machine for him. He would learn work and earn for himself. As they did not receive education ultimately they would have to do climbing and I will guide them.

Your father was a well-known carpenter. Is there any other of his calibre in your family.
Certainly! Like my father there is an uncle called Tahir. He is a well-known carpenter. I like him very much, maybe some others would like him too. God better knows, but he is a good carpenter.

From where did he learn that skill?
Tahir learned from Khalifa Miskeen who is another well-known carpenter. Later he joined the army, he learned the skill completely there in army service.

Likewise have you educated members in your family?
Yes educated persons in my family include Khaliq janab, Nazer Ali etc. Khaliq janab serves the whole village. He teaches our children. He is a nice man. Nazer Ali janab is a learned man. He also belongs to my family.

What is Khaliq janab?
Khaliq janab is a teacher. He is Headmaster of D.J. School.

Do you wish that your brother should become so skilful?
Very much, I have one more brother Rahim Shah I am proud of him. He has gone abroad Insha-allah he will work hard and bring a good name to our family. He will help us.

Which one of your uncles is a good farmer?
Both of Iqbal Hussain and Muhammad Sadiq are good farmers. My uncle Iqbal Hussain is a good intellectual person. He is a good skilful person. He has a plan, he is to me the bravest man of Shimshal. He is a strong climber. Second is Tahafat Shah. He is the best rock climber in the world. Rajab Shah is also from our family.

You praised your family; does your uncle Iqbal Hussian give you ideas in trekking?
Though we get guidance on trekking from him but I have less interest in trekking rather I have much interest in climbing so I get guidance on climbing from him as he has experience.
Section 11
Do you have a sense of humour?
Yes I do.

Which custom in marriages do you like most?
Lok (folk) music

Do you attend alone or accompanied by friends, colleagues?
I used to attend with friends.

Was marriage in early ages easy or it is today?
It was less costly in early ages, now everything has become costly.

M. Bari, is there cold in Zamistan?
In winter it is cold there.

What you use in winter? Wood or something else too?
Mostly, I use wood.

Where do you collect wood from?
I collect it from Yalaksh.

What is the grinding system for flour in our village?
In this place there is a local water mill we grind our grains.

Bari which habits of your friends, are good and which are bad?
In fact, I like simple people I donít like excessively sharp people who cheat others.

Bari have you ever worked as a shepherd?
No my brother, never have I done shpunig (herding), I apologise when my uncle gave me telescope I went to do shpunig, eagerly. Ali Sarwar accompanied me. I stayed for one day. Next day Sawar told me to look after sheep he had to go forward. I agreed, later I became homesick. I was too young at that time. I bundled my bed and returned home. Then Ali Sarwar was left alone. He lived there for many days in perplexity. When I returned home, my uncle went to Ali Sarwar, then he was relaxed. So I did shpunig for only two days but ran back home.

When you returned home uncle would have been worried?
They realised that I was too young to stay there. However, they were afraid about Sarwar so uncle went to Sarwar.

M. Bari you told us that we get benefits from livestock, we sell wool. Do you face any difficulty, while selling wool?
Yes, at that time 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.
Section 12
Have you any solution for the marketing of your product? Invite a buyer to this place and sell to him, or what else?
First of all, a market should be found out so all sellers could negotiate and sell their products collectively. If a buyer is found, livestock can be sold to him. These are two solutions. Otherwise, without a proper solution we sell our livestock at a loss.

Do you like to harvest wheat traditionally?
Yes I like it, but at midday I become lazy. At night, harvesting gives pleasure. In moonlight, harvesting will be better. Nowadays in [electric] light you can harvest at night time it is pity.

Along with the harvesting of wheat we cut fodder. Why do we do so?
I apologize for not liking this job. I donít like the cutting of fodder/grass. However, I escape from this job by skipping outside village. I never did this job.

M. Bari tell us do you drink [tea] excessively and why?
Usually we like to in the village, at home for most of the time we have nothing to do except have tea to drink. Also, when we do some tiring work tea gives relief so we do drink it. We are fond of tea.

If you prepare moch (local soup) would that not be a good thing?
Itís only because of simplicity and ease of preparing. Tea is very simple to prepare otherwise moch is better.

Would you like to tell us that next to apricot which trees of fruit available here?
Next to apricot, apples are ample here.

You have a large quantity of apples what do you do to these?
We store apples for the short season. We like apples very much. Otherwise shonibalt (variety of apple) is the fruit of at least winter use. Because we like apples so we even enjoy them in winter. We store them in baskets putting them in with grass. Due to storage we canít keep them till next season and so use them in winter.

How many potatoes do you produce?
We produce potatoes enough. Yield is also high.

Why do you produce very many potatoes?
There is no alternative vegetable. We canít bring pulses due to being far away from the market. We like potatoes so we produce them excessively. Potatoes meet our needs. We only buy oil and tea.

Bari janab, can you tell us that when you go to the city what attracts you?
Whenever I go to the city I recall home and vice versa. However, I like my home very much, because I am illiterate I canít understand things in the city.

Among cities like Hunza, Gilgit, Rawalpindi, Karachi etc which one do you like more?
I like Islamabad more. It is peaceful there. In Pindi I become frustrated, I canít sleep. While in Islamabad it is not the case.
Section 13
What is the merit of Islamabad? Are the people there cooperative? What else?
Mostly people are cooperative there.

There are many tourist companies in Islamabad, like Nazir Sabir Expedition, Ashraf Amanís Company many other. As you people are climbers, which company cooperates more?
Nazir Sabir cooperates more, he respects us. However Ashraf Amanís company is not organised properly. They mishandle people. The cheat guides. But Nazir Sabir is not like that. He has an organized system. Another one is Karakuram Explore of Mubarak Hussain. He has also a good organised system. I have worked with these three companies. Asharaf Aman neither pays properly nor cooperates unlike Nazir Sabir and Mubark Hussain.

Our road is very difficult and the village is situated in a far flung area. Do they write letters to you? How do they contact you?
About informing is like that as I am new in this field so they donít call me. I myself go to their office and try to get a chance. Unless I try myself they donít call me.

You got training from the Alpine Club of Pakistan, does it care for you?
We are out of reach of the Alpine Clubís Programme, because people working there care for only their own relatives and close ones. They don't prefer others, they donít give money to others.

It was a custom here that children go to fetch wood of shuper1 collectively. Have you ever gone for that? I was eager to go, but my mother always confined me to home. I was alone due to the death of my elder brother so my mother always forbid me to go for shuper. I never went for that purpose.

M. Bari! I forgot one thing whether discipline is a must in games?
Yes very necessary. If a player enters into the ground and he is not serious, I feel it very much. If a player does not care for discipline I oppose him seriously. A player, when he enters into the ground must be serious. He should follow discipline and must take care of everything. When we participated in Passu Games we were declared first in discipline and dress. The first time when we participated in games in Passu our fielding was better. I remember that that was our first tournament. We were runner-ups. Samin Shah was our Captain. Late Nasir was also in our team. He was my best friend, he left us. He was an all-rounder. He played well in batting.

Well Bari, along with cricket do you have an interest in volleyball too? If yes do you play shoot ball, smash, or in which position?
I donít like shooting very much as compared to smash. In smash I play as cutter, passer, centre man and service man too. Simply I have an interest in volleyball.
Section 14
In this game who is your passer?
Among my colleagues Hidiyat plays better. I like his game. Among passers, I like Ghulam Shah since he gives good passes, he plays beautifully.

Do your colleagues care for discipline in this game?
Yes they play well. Especially Qudrat Ali, he plays best. I learned this game from Tai Bai. This is only because of his guidance I became a player. I am quite fit in volleyball as I have a companion like Qudrat Ali

Have you played volleyball outside the village too?
We never went outside to play volleyball. Last year we planned to go to Ghulkin but due to the sad demise of late Sanan Khan the programme was cancelled.

Have you any interest in football?
Yes I can play football too. There is no any game in which I donít participate. I play football, however, occasionally.

What is the reason? Whether you have enough time or you are fond of games?
In fact I am fond of games. I try to complete my routine tasks and play games.

Have you ever been hurt in games?
I was injured while playing football. Also while playing cricket. My arm was dislocated but in football I was injured seriously. Then my family stopped me from playing football. I tried to play in secret.

You said that you broke you arm in playing cricket how did you get treatment?
I went first to uncle Chogh Bai. He joked with me that he does not treat players. I was disheartened. I was in severe pain. I came out of his house and in the way I saw the tool he used to use to treat such cases. My colleagues tried to put in the dislocated arm. Finally they were successful. My arm was in its original shape. We told uncle Chogh Bai that we did it ourselves.

Thank you very much Muhammad Bari you told us about your good ideas, your experiences, your routine activities etc. You cooperated with us for SNT and PANOS I am really thankful to you for giving us this precious time. Thank you very much indeed.
1 literally night stay: those who would go to fetch wood would stay overnight in the mountains and this wood is known as shuper wood.