Gojal area of the Karakorum mountains
Pakistan glossary












30 June 2000



Bismillah Rehman-e-Rahim (In the name of God the magnificent and the most merciful). Today you are here to take my interview; I am not very able to give you an interview, but anyway I will tell you everything that I can. Passu (a small village at upper Hunza) is my birthplace and it is also my fatherís home. But today my own home is Shimshal and Shimshal is everything for me. The fatherís home looks good for girls until marriage. Today my fatherís home is only a source of pride for me, and the people of Shimshal have taken the place of my own father and mother. I have four sons, and they have their lands and everything in Shimshal, they are the owners of their lands in Shimshal. Oneís fatherís home is also dear too, but only for the time being. It is dear to you while your father and mother are alive, and after them brothers and sisters-in-law have their own limitations like we have for our own in-laws, if we are in a good mood then we share a cup of tea with them otherwise not. We are far from our fatherís home and we used to visit them after a year or two and we spend a week or two with them, actually this Shimshal is our mulk (literally, country; refers to village) and our sar zameen (homeland) and all our happiness is now with Shimshal.
Section 1
You have told me that you have four sons; do you have any plans for their future regarding education?
Well, for their futureÖ I am not educated, and that is why I lived in Karachi for several years, because I am enthusiastic to give education to my sons. I donít know anything about life, even how to spend my life in the right direction. So I would like my sons to get education, because it is the need of the present age. The present age is good and I wish that God gives them the power and strength for the completion of their education. And education is the only thing that would brighten their future, that they might not face any problems like us. And they would be able to make their children better than themselves. We do not have education and in spite of that we are trying to educate them. In our village people have no source of income except agriculture, they have livestock but are not able to fulfil all their needs from livestock - that is why my husband is living in Karachi to educate our children. And we wish that my elder sons will complete their education and support their younger brothers.

As you mentioned you and your husband were living in Karachi, why did you come back?
Yes, my husband took me to Karachi and I spent 18 years in Karachi. When my children become able to live on their own with my husband then I thought that I should go back to my village to start our routine work. Because we were only in the city for the education of our children and we never thought to live permanently in Karachi. That is why I came back to Shimshal three years ago. Now I have started doing my farm activities again in Shimshal, but without a man you cannot do all the agricultural and other works here in Shimshal, because we are still not able to complete the road to our village. My children are still small and my husband is with them in Karachi and I am alone in Shimshal, but here in Shimshal I am fortunate enough that the villagers are helping me in each and every sphere of life, and it doesnít make me feel that I am alone here in Shimshal. I hope that nothing will happen to me because I am living safely with the people of Shimshal and they are all ready to serve the people all the time. Our life is Shimshal and we will die here on the same land. Our children are outside Shimshal to get their education, and we canít say anything about them that whether they should come back to Shimshal or whether they will spend their whole life outside Shimshal. My husband will spend a year or two in Karachi with our sons and then he will come back to Shimshal when our sons will be able to live alone in the city. I would like us to be able to spend the rest of our lives in Shimshal together. I lived in Karachi for several years and I observed that city life is suitable for the educated people and not for the uneducated ones.
Section 2
Ye zu shireen koi (my sweet sister) could you please tell me about the life of a woman in Karachi, what sort of role does she have to play, or what is the responsibility of a woman in Karachi?
Women have the same role to play everywhere, but in Karachi women are educated and that is why they are better than us, but not all of them are educated. Poverty is in Karachi too. People who are not wealthy and not educated are the same, like us. We are saying that we do not have a road to our village and that is why we are backward, we donít have any source of income here in our village. By seeing those people there then we can say that they are having all the facilities but they are not better than us. In Karachi I saw that running a home is the responsibility of a woman whether she is highly educated [or not] because the man has to do jobs (earn money). Some have their own factories and some are running their own shops. They bring all the necessary materials for their housewives to run their homes, and their housewives are responsible to run the homes in a sophisticated way while keeping in mind the budget of their home. They have to pay the tuition fees of their children and also the rent for their homes, and like this they are preparing a budget for the whole month.
In a city everything needs money or you can say that city life is a game of money. You have to pay for everything, like water and fuel wood etc. If for example, today you have nothing (no money) in your pocket and you go to the bazaar then the shopkeeper will not allow you to take things freely from his shop. We are grateful to God for giving us this land [Shimshal is self sufficient for foodstuff]. Those people who are working hard with their hands are living a comfortable life. We have to buy few things from down country (refers to the rest of Pakistan Ė and in this case Gilgit) like tea, salt, rice or cooking oil etc and these are the only things which we are buying from outside. People who live in cities have to pay for everything, except those ones who have their own homes who are living freely (have their own apartment; donít need to pay for rent). People who are having low monthly income and a rented house always remain worried in the city that ďI have to pay the rent of my houseĒ, ďI have to fulfil other expenses of my homeĒ. If he couldnít pay the rent then the owner will frequently visit him for the rent. If he pays the rent then he might not be able to pay the school fees of his children. These sorts of anxieties are always present in a city life. So we are grateful to God that we people are far away from these types of problems while living a very simple life. We are working with our own hands, we have our own lands, homes, free drinking water, and we have our own local products like milk etc and we never face any problems for getting these things.
In a city people buy a small piece of ice to put it in a cooler to make the water cool. In a city people who are wealthy and who have money are living a luxurious life, while those who are poor and not having money are living a terrible and vulnerable life. Even people are not able to get their children married, and compared to them, we people have not that much expenses on marriage. We only buy some clothing for our daughter and get them married, while in the city people have to make jewelleries along with other necessities or you can say luxuries of life for the daughters as jahez (dowry). And we people are far away from these sorts of problems and our Imam (the Aga Khan) always emphasises that instead of showing-off and unnecessary expenses you should give your children education. When I first went to Karachi, I felt very strongly about education, when people used to talk with me I always used to look at their faces blankly, because I couldnít understand them at all. I faced many problems while going to the bazaar or hospital etc for several years. Later on I picked up some of the wording of the Urdu language to overcome my problems. You see all these problems arise due to illiteracy. I notice another thing that our educated people are not sharp enough compared to the people who are born in the city and have got their education there. Our educated people are like the uneducated in the city. So I can say that education is very necessary whether it would be from Shimshal or from Karachi. Today my children are studying and they would be able to live their lives in a better way and would educate their children more than themselves.
Section 3
Zo shireen koi (dear sister) you have presented a very beautiful scene of a city life or provided very beautiful information about city life. Now I would like to ask you that as you mentioned earlier about the role and responsibility of a woman in a city, that her husband hands over the monthly budget to her and she is responsible to run their home while keeping in mind the budget for the whole month, now could you tell me that what role a woman has to play in village life?
Dear sister, the life of a woman is the same as I told you earlier about city and village life of a woman. In a city you have to pay money for everything whatever you do. But in a village you have to do everything with your own hands. Here in the village there is nothing to worry about, whether you are doing all the household chores or farm activities by yourself or with the help of your husband. But in a city the man has to spend the whole day outside the home, and those females are also working who are educated, what sort of work? The same work, as we are doing our farm activities. Some of them are teachers, some are doctors, and some are working in offices for making their living comfortable by working both husband and wife like us, as we are collecting fuelwood and doing other farm activities together. But in our village, for example I am living alone and I have to do the agricultural work by myself, although it is a difficult task to do, but anyway I am doing it.
Here a woman has the same role to play; that is to run her home, and she only needs tea, cooking oil and other small necessities of the daily life from her husband, which he brings from down country. And it is the responsibility of the wife to know for how long she has to use the materials brought by her husband from downside. You can say that the running of a home wholly depends on a woman. Because in our society the man is always supposed to be an outsider, he is not aware about the inside of a home. Home always depends on the woman. There might be a woman who would be thoughtless who never prepares her monthly budget, that how she would utilise the resources available at her home.
And another thing dear sister is we had no road to our village and that is why we canít force our males to go and bring our needs from downside. For example my husband brings all the necessities today and can I use them as soon as I can and start forcing him to go and bring these things again? No I canít do it because I have to keep in mind the difficulties of our journey to down country1 and also the shortage of money, because we donít have any source of income here in our village, so where can he bring these things for me. In a city people never have their lunch and dinner without curry and in our village we usually take meals in the form of bread with tea. During the summer season women used to grow vegetables, mostly spinach and we cook vegetables for our meals, but during the winter season we have no vegetables. Only those women who are intelligent enough can cook vegetables during winter, because they dry some for the winter season. While during winter except meat, potato, and milk products we have nothing to cook. Some people are bringing pulses from downside for their meals and you know money brings these things, if you have no money then nobody can give you these things.
Section 4
Dear sister, you have talked about our daily meals that during winter season we are not able to get vegetables to cook, so what can a woman do in this regard?
We are growing only spinach here. So I would suggest that women should dry the spinach during summer season and use a small amount of dried vegetable along with potato during the winter season. Another thing which I would like to suggest here is that tea is not good for the health so to replace tea, people should buy pulses, while keeping in mind their family members. Tea is harmful for health and people should not use this. Making tea is easy and that is why people prefer to make tea instead of cooking vegetables or making some other sort of curry for them when they come back from work. Because they become tired and they choose the easiest way of cooking for themselves. And on the other hand this easiest form of cooking is dangerous for their health. In a city people used to cook vegetables and meat for their meals at any cost, if they havenít any type of vegetable available at their homes then they use some eggs with potato etc.

You lived in a city as well as in a village, so could you please tell me whether city life is good or village life?
Village life dear sister.

In village life there are so many problems (it is hard), but there is nothing to worry about. Life is closer and open here in a village. You can go alone to the mountains, to the desert or to bring fuelwood etc from somewhere. But there are no worries at all. In a city, life is easy compared to the village, everything is systematic. People care for cleanliness and there are no hard task to do like bringing fuelwood or other farm activities etc, but instead of these you have to live in fear all the time. If you want to go somewhere, you canít go without your male counterpart. If you are alone somewhere then you will be worried there, because no one is your relative there, and all of them are strangers to you. But in Shimshal there is no fear in our mind about some person, here everyone is like our own brother and father. We are all blood relatives. So here it is an open and secure life. That is why I like this life, I mean village life, very much.
Section 5
You have been to Shimshal after your marriage and then you went to Karachi, but now you are in Shimshal, so what changes [have occurred] since then, when you came back from Karachi?
Many changes have taken place here. When I got married, life was very hard here in our village. The route was very dangerous at that time and due to this our brothers and fathers used to go one or two times to down country in a year. But now by the grace of Allah we return in the same day to Shimshal. Here in Shimshal there is no difference between poor and wealthy people. Nowadays everything is available and life has become easy, but I am afraid we are not grateful to God for his blessings. We are wearing good clothing and as I said before that wealthy as well as poor have the same food to eat at their homes. I will give you the example of my own life that when I came back from Karachi, all the brothers of my husband had divided the whole properties. You know what my condition was when I came back from Karachi, but no one is aware of what I ate inside my home. And for this we are thankful to our time period, that we can get everything from outside. If it were an ancient time then I would have to borrow something from someone to eat. So you can say that there are many changes like this which took place here.

According to the people, life was hard in the past, people had little to wear and eat, and now life is comfortable, so could you tell me about the life of women before you went to the city and after coming back; which one has more tasks to perform?
Now women have more tasks to perform compared to the past, now women are doing those tasks as well which were previously supposed to be the role of men. [In the past] women had only to do knitting, weaving and other tasks inside their homes. Fetching fuel wood was previously the responsibility of men, but now women are doing this. We were only responsible to fetch fuel wood for the autumn season, and for the winter season men were responsible. And now we are, you can say greedy to get money, and our men are going with tourists or doing some labour to make money. And the reason is that if we havenít money then we would not be able to get tea and other necessities of our daily use. That is why women are having to do inside as well as outside tasks alone. In the past, at the time of our mothers and grandmothers, we havenít seen, but we heard from people that their ages were long, there were no diseases at all. But now God has made our lives easy, but along with this there are many problems, and fears. In the past there were difficulties, people were making soup from dried apricots, but now we are not making soup. People were wearing locally made woollen dress according to our culture, but now we are buying everything like clothing, shoes, socks etc from outside. If one had no money then how can he fulfil all these needs, but according to the demand of the present age the person has to buy these things at any cost. Suppose, if one wears a new dress, then obviously I would force my husband to bring the same thing for me as well, why shouldnít I wear that dress?

Dear sister, as you talked about the clothing, when you got married were you also wearing the traditional woollen dress?
Of course, yes. I wore the woollen traditional dress with the traditional shoes called sandal (long shoes locally made of animal skin). We were wearing only a shirt with a trouser and nothing extra like coat etc, to protect us from the cold. But now we have warm dresses and coats and shoes, and despite of all these we are saying that these dresses are not warm at all. Inside the sandal we used to rap our feet with palek (piece of padding to keep feet warm; used before knitted socks became common). But now we are having different types of socks and if it tore off, we dispose of it and demand a new one. The time has now changed, in the past things were not easily available, and we were not demanding at all. Because we were aware that where could they bring these things from?
Section 6
Sister now we are buying socks from the market, what did you people use in the past instead of this?
We made socks from wool and only those women who were knitting experts made them. But the woollen socks were not that durable like the ones we are getting from the bazaar. But now except the woollen sweaters no one is knitting the woollen socks here.

Now women are making traditional women caps on charsoti and satal (types of cloth used for making fully embroidered caps), in the past what sort of caps did they use to wear?
In the past women were wearing kubri (embroidery design for womenís caps in the past), and then qalami (printed cloth) was introduced. The fully embroidered caps were to be seen in the down villages like Passu, Hussaini and Gulmit, but here in Shimshal only a few people used to make the fully embroidered cap for the marriage of their daughter. When the sewing machine was introduced then women used to wear machine-made simple stitched caps and wearing such caps was known as a [source of] pride for women. Elder women used to demand the younger ones to wear caps and duppatta (scarf). But now times have changed and not all of us wear caps. Now it looks odd for us. I also wore a cap, but after going to the city I gave up wearing it, because it was looking odd to wear it there, but I am interested to start wearing it again.

You have talked about your present and past life in Shimshal, that in the past life was too hard and now life is easy to live. I would like to ask, personally which life would you prefer? Life in the past or present life?
I would say life in the past was also good. In the past we had to listen to our elders and obey them. We had to say yes to them. We were supposed to go to the pasture to graze our livestock. And during that time we never said no to our mothers to graze their livestock (extend help to care the other familyís livestock). In the past we were able to get bread from the few homes who were wealthy, otherwise most of the people used to give us bread made of peas for grazing their animals [talking about the pasture life where each of five households would go in rotation to control the grazing animals and they will get food for the day from the other households on a rotation basis]. But now I do not go to Pamir (Shimshalís mountain pastures) but I have heard that people are making wheat bread called qamachdoon (thick bread baked in cast iron oven) and butter for the shepherds. Despite that I have heard that the youngsters refuse to render help to graze the livestock of other people. So I can say that now women have not got the same respect for the elders, which was among us during the time of our mothers and grandmothers. They were respecting each other. But now life has become easy and along with it respect has vanished from the society. We are not respecting each other. In the Pamir the youngsters are now refusing the elders by saying that, ďyou are educating your own children so why should we graze your livestock?Ē
I would say that this change is due to the present age, because when we were young there was no education at all, and that is why we used to go to Pamir with our mothers and mothers-in-law as shepherds and they were responsible to look after the milk, butter, yoghurt and other household activities there. Three years have passed since I came back from Karachi; I have not been to Pamir during this period, but I am hearing about the attitude of our young shepherds towards our elders in Pamir, and it is hurtful to me. It is due to the comfortable life people are spending now. Now everyone has their own life and they never tried to listen to others and do their own what they want to.
Section 7
As you said that you were going to the pasture with your mothers-in-law, I would like to know about your aim there?
You know we had our own sheep, goats and yaks. We used to go with our mothers-in-law as a shepherd and they were responsible for milking the livestock and yaks, and were also responsible for producing butter and cheese from that milk. And these things, butter and cheese are brought to the village while coming back from the pasture. Women usually planned for a marriage ceremony, for someoneís funeral in the village and for other necessities of life. In Pamir our responsibilities were grazing livestock, fetching fuelwood from far off places, and producing butter from yoghurt through a local hand made machine called saghoo (cylindrical wooden instrument used for abstracting butter). When grazing the livestock we used to go along with girls of the same age to make the grazing time more joyful for us. We never teased each other while living together; we always used to go together for collecting fuelwood happily. There were difficulties, but we never felt those difficulties at all. During the collection of fuelwood, we usually sang songs. While going to the shelters with our mothers we used to sing songs mostly ďNoonik, noonikĒ (local song; noonik means sister in-law). Whenever I remember that life, I felt it was a beautiful life we spent together. Presently life is easier and [more] comfortable than the past, but people never like each other and always keep hatred in their hearts for others. In our time we were not friends like this, we have spent a beautiful life together.

Dear sister, I want to know that while living at the pastures, do you celebrate the festivals or not?
Yes dear sister, usually we the shepherds goes to the pasture called Shevjerab before our mothers, and when our mothers join us there after sometime, then it is time to celebrate a festival called Mirgichig (purification custom to give thanks to God) you know, it is our tradition. After celebrating this festival our brothers and fathers used to go back to the village. Shevjerab is a pasture which is beautiful, but full of big stones and we never live happily there, because we always have fear in our mind that our livestock might fall under these stones or fall in the river while passing through the bridges. Shuwert (the main summer settlement in the pasture), another pasture is an open-hearted place for both the shepherds as well as for the livestock, but it depends upon the weather, if it rains then you canít enjoy at all. It is situated on a higher altitude and when snowfalls then it creates problems for all of us, because there is a lack of fuelwood also.
Then in July it is time to celebrate Salgirah (important Ismaili celebration on 11th July). In the past people had not many resources, you know, and a new dress (locally produced woollen cloths) that was made once in a year was kept especially for such happy occasions. We used to celebrate another festival there called Chaneer (harvest festival) is celebrated when it is time to cut fresh crops in the village). Our mothers used to take the smaller children to the Wulyo, where they slaughter some livestock in the name of God which is called khudoyee (offerings), now the trend is changed and khudoyee is made in the Jamat khana (religious community centre of Ismaili Muslims) rather then the Wulyo. And we the shepherds were mostly on the grazing place, and our mothers used to bring beth (local dish; wheat flour mixed with butter, water and salt served with mutton) along with khesht (wheat flour fried in butter) for us at the grazing place.
Then we move to Shevjerab (name of the lower pasture) we start preparing for the kooch (seasonal migration with livestock to and from pasture) that I have to go with the livestock to the village, because the weather becomes too cold and we wish to go back to the village. We had to divide into three groups called room, while going to the village, and before starting our journey we used to advise each other that if someone had some problem during journey then she must not be angry with other colleagues but try to help each other, because the Vayeen (name of one of the passes that is crossed to reach the pasture settlement) is very difficult, and if we would go happily together, then we might not feel the difficulties. Our journey took two days, and we have to wait for the yaks in the Zart gar ban (the first resting place from the village) because our mothers had to come with the yaks. From Zart gar ban onward we had to follow the yaks. One groups has to go and stay at Tang (ďgorgeĒ name of the second resting place) and the remaining two groups had to go to Bandesar (a place opposite the village), and we usually joined each other at that place. When we met each other we used to talk about the dresses being made for us for the Kooch festival, and in the same place we were taking baths and wearing new dresses to go to the village with a great joy. The family in the village would come to receive us on the river crossing near the village. On reaching the village we were supposed to go to the Jamat khana first and then to our homes.
Section 8
What about the villagers, were they staying inside their homes?
No, no at all. They all came to meet us in a place which a bit far from the village. But now the trend has changed and people remain inside their homes. So it was all about our life and tradition in Pamir, we were living happily together.

Is the same system running up to today or has it changed now?
I have not been to Pamir for the last twenty-one years, I mean since I left for Karachi. I am in Shimshal for the last three years, and it looks the same with a bit of change, but we are hearing that in Pamir the youngsters are not obeying their elders. To us it looks bad, because in Gulmit and Gulkin (small villages in upper Hunza) they share the same pasture, they are mixed with other villages that is why they are unable to help each other very much. But our [situation] is different, it is totally separate from other villages, there are no outsiders, who come from other villages. So it looks very bad, if we donít listen to the advice of our elders. It is our duty to listen to our elders, say yes to them while they are talking, though it is not necessary to do what they say but the young ones should not turn down what they say right away. They should try to keep the elders happy. If for example, you say no to them and afterwards do that work, then it would definitely hurt them. In the past our life was good, whatever our mothers said, we were supposed to obey them. I have not seen the youngsters in Pamir with my own eyes, but I am hearing about them from those ones who are going to Pamir every year. But here I would say that whenever I asked them to come and do something for me, they never refused me. But in Pamir, this year I heard that the young are refusing to go to the grazing points, and that is why the older women and those who have small children are going to graze the livestock along with their children. If that is true then why do they (the young women) go to the Pamir? [Young women are supposed to help the elder one no matter whose family they might be].
Section 9
Sister, you have mentioned one of our festival called Chaneer, so I would like to ask you if there is any joint celebration between the villagers and the shepherds in Pamir at this event?
Young males used to come to Pamir as shartwurza (literally, promised guest) and it takes place before going to the Wulyo with the small children. Which has now lost its existence.

Could you please tell me why they go for shartwurza?
It was the tradition of our village. Two young men from the village will visit the summer pasture as guests who would be invited to every household and offered good food. They also make special food arrangements and invite the whole pasture households with special gifts. The next day will be the pasture festival all the villagers will ride yaks and go to a place called Wulyo. They will slaughter goats and sheep share the food there and return. Some young boys from the village will expedite to snatch the festival food in Wulyo. If the succeeded it would be bravery, if caught they would carry the cooking stuffs on their back to bring back to the pasture (whereas everyone else rides on the yaks). On the other hand during the celebrations in the village some young from the pasture would do the same; snatch the festival food from the gathering (the neighbours gather for breakfast before starting the festival day). If caught by the villagers, they were asked to wear kerest (overcoat made from animal hide) from the opposite side, and a special cap which has been prepared for him from the sholmwush (wild yellow flower which grows on the side of a stream), and the local musicians used to beat their musical drum after them to make them go around the village. These used to be joyful events, which kept the village together. I suspect these things may lose their existence with the passage of time.

What about the breakfast, everyone ate that in their homes or not?
A combined breakfast party is celebrated among all the neighbours of the village, in which the neighbours prepared breakfast at their own homes and they were supposed to eat their breakfasts at a common place. And mostly it took place at the older neighbourís home. The shepherds who came from Pamir used to hide themselves in the same house where the breakfast party is going to take place. When everything become ready and the neighbours were ready to eat, then the Pamiris come out from the hidden place to join the neighbours. They jointly took the breakfast and separated some special dishes for the remaining shepherds, and at the end they took it with them for the Pamirik. And it was known as a bravery of these persons.
Section 10
What sort of activities were people supposed to do after Chaneer in the village?
After Chaneer people were supposed to cut the grass. And then comes barley, and then we have to cut wheat. After finishing our own cutting, we were supposed to go and help other relatives, and that was called kuryar (communal labour). This system is still continued. We are still helping each other and it must be continued. Some are helpless, some are weak or alone to finish their work, and so it is nice if one helps others. In the past resources were not available and people were making peas bread for their kuryar. But now by the grace of God people are preparing molida (local dish; bread mixed with qurut Ė local dried cheese - and butter), and paratha (deep fried flat bread) and other delicious foods. We never saw chai (tea) in our time, and ate dry bread while cutting grass in the jungle (forest). But now tea is made everywhere in the jungle for the kuryar.

When you got married, tea was available in Shimshal or not?
Yes, tea was available in Shimshal, but it was very scarce. In the past some of our skilful mothers, who had cows, used to produce cheese from milk and women used to borrow cheese from them to make tsumik (local dish) and mooch (soup). We took the bread after the soup. So you can say there was shortage of tea and no one had made tea in the forest. But now whenever we go to cut the grass, we take tea and milk with us. Presently tea is available everywhere. In Passu (name of a village in upper Hunza) when I was young, tea was not available sufficiently. My father likes tea very much, when my own mother died, then my father got married with a woman from Shimshal. Once she told my father to avoid drinking tea, and for this he become angry and threw the cup of the tea.

Your father had his second wife from Shimshal, who was she?
She was the aunt of my husband. My mother-in-law and my stepmother were sisters. She had no son in Passu and also in Shimshal. Tea is now available everywhere. In down villages they were making chomoos (thick apricot juice; made from dried apricots which have been soaked) along with the bread. Potatoes have been produced by the people in down country, but here in Shimshal people were not aware of producing potato at that time. But now everyone is producing potato and the production has been increased since then.

Sister, do you know anything about potato production, who brought the potato seeds to Shimshal?
Not exactly, but I think that the daughters of down villages who got married here in Shimshal had brought the seed from downside. In the past people were of the thinking that if you produce potato then your sheep would die. As a result when I got married here till that time very few people were producing potato. Everyone was not growing potato and the production was also limited. But now everyone is growing potato and the production has also increased. But as I said in the past potato was not seen as a good thing. I donít know exactly about the person who brought potato first in Shimshal. I would say that the person was courageous who brought potato here from downside. Because when I got married, since then our route has been constructed three times from different sides. From Passu to Shimshal people have to carry heavy loads on their back while staying three days in different camps, so imagine how they brought things from down-country. During summer people used to go from the Qoroon (name of a high pass) side or sometimes crossed Lupghar and Afdeghar to reach Passu. But now if we wish to go then we start our journey at seven in the morning and reach Passu at five in the evening, so our journey is now comfortable. Now whatever we wish to bring looks good. Now we see that our fathers and brothers used to go early in the morning and come back in the evening.
Section 11
Sister you have talked about Qoroon that our fathers and brothers used to go down country through this way through summer. I would like to know whether you have travelled that way or not?
Yes, once I was a bit angry with my family here and my father forcefully took me with him, and we travelled through Qoroon. From here we went to Oston (overnight resting place) then to Voheen ben, and from that place we continued our journey during the night and we reached Chook Vort early in the morning, Chook Vort is a place which is situated at very high altitude. At that time there was poverty in the down villages (there were no roads). While reaching in Afgarch (name of a village in upper Hunza) people usually asked for water to drink, because except for water people didnít get anything to eat there, but now we are not able to pay our gratitude to God that we are depending on eating of shaitshikar (literally, sweet and delicious; lavish food) during travelling. People are ignoring bread, especially the patock (thick bread). While in the past people were eating bread made of pea flour while going to Passu, and from Passu to Shimshal their relatives used to make barley patock for them for their journey. And by the grace of God the people in the past were so healthy and were spending a very long life, and they never felt ill like the people of today. Now life has become comfortable, but it has brought different diseases with it.

Dear sister, you have shared your views about the past with me, now I would like to know that according to the need of the present life what do you think about the future of your children?
The present age is very advanced. For my children I wish they would spend their lives comfortably. In our time there was no concept of school, and we are illiterate, and I feel it very much. I thought that you people are so lucky to be born in the present time and you got education. Because it is the need of the time. When you go outside the village you can talk to different people, when people visit our village you can talk to them confidently. When I went to Karachi, I couldnít talk to anybody, because we didnít have education. Because of this I would say that here in our village I am not feeling my loneliness, and the difficulties, which I am facing; I am sure my relatives and other villagers will help me at any cost, whenever I am in need of their help, and I would like to stay here alone. My husband would stay with them that they would get their education, go forward, and a change might take place in their lives. God has given me four sons, and we had remembered our own difficulties and have admitted them to school, but God knows whether they will be able to get their education or not. I also say that education needs hard work and without working hard my sons would not be able to get their education. They must go forward, get their education and help their brothers. Now they are very young and thatís why their father is living with them to look after them. In the future when the two elder brothers will become able to look after their younger brothers then their father will definitely come back to Shimshal.
Section 12
Okay dear sister, you have mentioned about the difficulties in the past, like our fathers and grandfathers who had travelled through Qoroon and your own journey through the same way, now I would like to know that while considering those difficulties, do you feel any changes [have occurred] in our village since then?
Yes, many changes have taken place since then in Shimshal. As I mentioned earlier about our journey which took three days, now, by the grace of God, it is only a one-day journey. I also told you about city life - that in the backward areas of the city there is no availability of electricity - but here we have got our own power house, and by the grace of God we are having a tractor, thresher and ploughing machine here in our village. We are grateful to AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Programme) for the electricity and to the Govt. of Pakistan for the tractor here. So it is a great change. Another big change is our road, which is under construction. If our own villagers continued their courage then it would be completed very soon. It would be very easy for them to travel around. In the past it took many days to go downside and when they were coming back people used to go to Dour Yopk (name of place near the village) to meet those travellers. But now we are not aware of who has gone downside and who is coming back. So you can say all these are changes. Life has become so easy. As a woman I can go to Passu within the same day from Shimshal. In the past it was very difficult especially for women to go down country, and women were not travelling at all. It took three days to reach Shimshal of the newly married persons who got their wives from down villages. But now there is no difference in travelling whether you are male, female or a child due to the new road. We have to wait only for a year or two to complete this road and we will also travel in vehicles like the down country people.

Dear sister, could you tell me about an unforgettable incident of your life which gave you happiness?
During their lifetime, a person has to see much happiness and to face many difficulties. We were worried when we had no child and half of our life had already passed when God blessed us with our first son; we cannot forget that day and we will never forget it till our death. Now God has blessed us with four sons; when we had no child we thought we will not have any children, but God has blessed with four sons. It gives us too much pleasure, although we cannot take our children with us (cannot come with us in our grave) forever. But during his life a human being always wishes that he would have his own children, if he hasnít any. Some have sons and some have daughters, but children are always a source of happiness for their parents. So this is my unforgettable life incident. And now God will give them help, that they would get education, to spend their life in a good manner.

Your suggestion for the young generation, especially for the young females who are studying now?
For them, I would say that the time is good for them, and I wish that we had the same time. So for my daughters and sons (young people in Shimshal) I would suggest that the time is good, they must get education, go forward and serve their village, for their own life and for the prosperity of their village and country, because dear sister, educated persons are the ones who can do each and every sort of work for their villages like the ones we have, Muzaffar, Johar and Gulam Karim who are working for the development of our village and used to come forward every time. Their demand is in each and every field. So for my daughters I would say that they may not waste the fees paid by their parents, donít waste their time, they must work hard to get education. Nobody is born educated. Americans who went to the moon were not born educated either; it became possible through hard work and education. Now people are coming from America to give you education and training, the teachers who are here to teach you got their education. So for the young generation I would suggest that they should get their education so that their parentsí struggle may not be wasted.
Section 13
So dear sister, thank you so much that you gave us your precious time although you were very busy, and you have shared your ideas, and your experiences with us. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

1 The village has no road linking it to the outer world. They used to walk for days to reach the nearby village to buy the daily necessities now the road is close to reaching the village and it takes three days to go and return home with necessities carried on their back.