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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....


INDIA | Wednesday, 1 June 2011 | Views [1071]

Radha lost in a sea of green

Radha lost in a sea of green

Early April

A cacophony of birds herald in the new day, clear blue sky, the barley crop dances in the breeze. As the seasons shift and the days stretch out the village comes to life by 6.30 am. Women have cleaned out the cattle sheds and have headed into the forest. In the last couple of weeks light rain gently soaked through the earth and the recently planted potatoes are emerging, their green heads popping up through he rich soil.

Last night we spent around the fire with Bhalu Bhoob and his daughter Panmatti. He regaled us with tales of life in the 'old days', back to when he used to cart goods on his back from Haldwani to Khati. There were no roads then. He has witnessed the road networks gradual progression into the hills, first to Almora then Bageshwar, Bharari & Saung eating its way closer to the inner valley's. Hunger was endemic. His children frequently only ate one meal a day. We talked about the changes and he has mixed feelings. The world of his generation is changing quickly and there are only a handful of villagers alive who can tell us about times gone by and with their passing a wealth of information will also vanish. He lamented that once the jungle was thick and wild animals plentiful, but he has enjoyed some changes (ie plentiful food, access to medical care etc) and the solar lighting in his house appears to rate highly. There was a time when we were concerned that the town's elders like Bhalu Bhoob or Bishnuli may have been resistant to change ... alas it was the elders who embraced technology with barely the blink of an eyelid.

Champa (a widow in the village) decided that maybe she could charge her new 'soundbox' (a small music player) from her solar battery. The result was a short circuited battery and no lights working! The kids told me that she was reduced to tears because she thought she had totally ruined her light. Scott said that he had never seen someone so grateful when he resurrected the system, we have been eating lots of chua (amaranth) ever since!!

The women have started collecting mooka and saru from the forest to sell at a later date. As the ferns start to unfurl they are harvested as a vegetable (lingur) that is exceptionally tasty. Soon various forms of forest fungi will also be on the menu. Since Dhani Ram and Bhishant Singh sold off the last of the goat hers in town less meat is being eaten, though through winter we noticed the rise in eating wildmeat (especially jungle sewer - wild pig). When the potatoes are of considerable size the Indian Procupine raids the fields at night - we are told that he is very scrumptious! The village temple is dedicated to Khali, this ensures goats are sacrificed for use in ceremonies (pujas)and are eaten on a semi regular basis. Spring is a time of abundance. 



Tags: forest fodder, khati, mountain life, wildmeat



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