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Red Carpet

I am working on a long-form piece on the construction of the Limi Road, its protagonists and effects.

During my first visit to the region in September 2011, I happened to be in Tsang, the uppermost of the three villages in Nepal's Limi Valley, when the first truck ever arrived from China. Everybody rushed to see it and receive the goods they had bought or ordered in Purang, the town across the border in Tibet. The road had not reached the village yet, but the residents of Tsang had convinced the truck driver to take the risk and cross the river.

Men and women, young and old, helped strap heavy loads on each others backs and haul them down to the village and their houses. This was still an arduous task. However, it was nothing compared to the drudgery of bringing basic supplies all the way from Purang, a two-day trek. In Tsang, like in many other high-altitude villages in the Himalayas, agriculture does not meet subsistence needs.

There was excitement in the air. The prospect of road access to booming China's goods and markets triggered all sorts of ambitions and dreams – more and better construction materials, soft drinks and bottle beer, for example. Or a new red carpet to decorate the house.

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