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People's Environmental Awareness - Khati (PEAK) Follow PEAK with the financial assistance of World Nomads on the path to delivering educational, water supplies & solar home lighting systems to Kumaon villages....

Work (for some)....

INDIA | Monday, 18 February 2008 | Views [692]

Khati (2200m) Winter 07/08

Khati (2200m) Winter 07/08

"The indolence of the male sex is insuperable, even by the prospect of gain, and the whole labour of the domestic economy and of agriculture excepting only ploughing and harrowing, is left to the women...."

George William Traill Esq (1828)

A Statistical Sketch of the Kumaon

Originally published in the "Asiatic Researches, Vol.16. 1828. pp.137-234

Fast forward to 2008.... Some things don't change! I have much respect and admiration for Khati women who do indeed do all the domestic and agricultural labour. Khati is situated on the Southern edge of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in an area that is heavily forested. However, the women walk for kilometres for wood and tell me that a decade ago they didn'thave to walk nearly as far. The Panchayat (Council) ruling is that only wood on the ground can be sourced for firewood and that there should be no cutting of green trees, though we have noted that this is not always the case.

Khati inhabitants are 'ecosystem' people and as such rely heavily on the surrounding forest for survival. The killing of the Hole (Indian Porcupine... and tasty I'm told!)and monkey's for transgressing the village boundaries to eat your precious (and I must add 'vital') food source - alu (potatoes)is common. Many realities tend to throw your western concept of nature 'conservation' out the window.

This week 'ploughing and harrowing' will take the men away from cups of chai (tea) and card games to get ready for the potatoe planting season(um.... actually the cows do all the work). The barley and wheat crop survived the snow and looks wonderful when the green tips push through the pristine white surrounds.

The days of snow were fantastic and of course snowball fights were the order of the day. I must add that 'luckily' there is snowball etiquette and you are asked if it is o.k before you are bombarded! Some women prefer the snow as it means a break from most work, sitting around the fire having a cup of tea with the family becomes the daily imperative. There hasn't been much rest this winter. This season, the snow on the ground has not lasted more than two days and the falls have been minimal with the weather warming up early. Through lived observation the locals all claim that the weather is changing - sun when there should be snow, rain when there should be sun.... Like all Himalayan Glaciers the retreat of the Pindari Glacier is phenominal. We don't need to go into a 'global warming tirade' to understand what is going on climatically.Still sunburn and frostbite in one outdoors session is not unfeasible?!

Bonnie & Scott (PEAK)

Tags: mountain water project



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