Text by Tawheed Nazir
Gypsies or nomads, that is how the world knows them. Unlike our approach of settlements and establishments, they like it to be better at transit, moving from mountains to plains, between deep valleys, through the gorges that turbulent river flows carve.
Travelling to the Wasturwann when it is summer and returning to warm Shivalik valleys in winter is the trail their caravan follows. They go through this long journey together; women on horses, children whistling around and the older ones herding their flocks of goats and sheep. You definitely would have caught the glimpse of their journey on highways where they are cursed for being the cause of traffic jams. But don’t get annoyed; they pay the same road charges that you pay or may be more.
Life governed by nature is stable. That is why this pastoral culture remains intact; they evolve along with every being surrounding them, learning under their subtle mentorship. This mutualism yields them with sustenance enough for a contended survival.
They house in the most classic manner; homes having no separate rooms. They care for their livestock as much as they care for themselves. The resemblance of their houses with nature indicates their coexistence with soil. These houses abandoned in autumn wait for their arrival back in summer like a mother awaits her son working in a distant country.
They would surely classify as the inhabitants of earth with no borders.
They walk with wind, talk with rain, sleep under naked skies and seek refuge wherever they find hope.
Kashmir is beautiful and resourceful but we still remain oblivious to this fact. Those who feed on grain produced somewhere else can’t envisage the bulk of bounties this vale bears.
These men who eat what this vale offers; earn the benefits the mountains of Pir Panjal bring; drink what oozes out of the Verinag Spring; and wear outfits their culture decorates them with, know this valley.
• Shahid Mushtaq is a photographer from Pulwama. He takes interest in nature and street photography. Some of his work on Instagram @inam35
• Tawheed Nazir is a passionate student and strives for a medic life, tweets @towheednazir789