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Shelter Below a Rock

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This is a group of Chhetri travellers from lower Humla seeking shelter below a rock near Kermi, northwestern Nepal. They are on their way up to Purang across the Tibetan border. Once a year, usually before Dasain (the main Hindu festival in autumn), they undertake this two-weeks long expedition in order to buy Chinese goods. This year, they plan to purchase mainly clothes and shoes for their families and relatives back home.

They have neither donkeys nor mules. Thus, they travel as light as possible. They carry some food and an aluminium pot but no warm blankets or jackets. Travelling light enables them to carry more goods on their way back. The group usually stays in a cave over night. The men collect some dry wood and huddle around a small campfire during the night.

We pitched our tent next to the cave. They invited us for tea and we shared a couple of cigarettes. A woman from the nearby village came and saw that they were burning a large wooden log that she considered to be hers. Fodder and wood are scarce along this busy trade route. The Chhetri men did not argue. They put the log aside and doused it with water.

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