Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Newbie in Nuker: The fears and joys of field work

The majestic Himalayas in Lahaul and one of the many ivory-thread streams.
I am flustered. I am going to hold my first village meeting, talking to women from a self-help group (SHG) and I am terribly anxious. I look around the circle of women sitting with me, they are honest-faced and clear-eyed. I give them a watery smile. The President of the group smiles back at me, her nose pin twinkling in the summer sun.  

I close my eyes and breathe deeply. I am in Nuker, a tiny village in Lahaul. When one looks beyond the Kullu-Manalis and Shimlas, Himachal Pradesh morphs into a collage of striking beauty, from Kinnaur in the east which is India’s apple-basket, to Spiti in the north, a cold desert akin to Ladakh. In the upper reaches of Himachal, nestled against Spiti, lies Lahaul. Himachal Pradesh is also one of the stars in the unfortunately dark tapestry that is the Indian countryside. Replete with extraordinary natural beauty and warm kind-hearted people, it holds a special place among my travels.