Friday, August 30, 2013

Greg is back in Korphe ..3 cups of T.

Kashmir got split into two because of the naivete of the Nehru administration. We were 6 weeks away from capturing the whole state in 1948. India went to the UN and agreed to a cease! That is the line we are fighting across. The Kashmir issue would not have gone away, since it is a fundamental conflict, but we certainly would be fighting across a border with present day Pakistan. Oh! when will we be liberated from that family? ......R

This story of Kashmir does affect us. Surely border conflicts have bled both India and Pakistan immensely and have made the armament industry rich. But we see that the occupied territories are poor. Wonder whether it would have made any difference if it was undivided!

Jean Hoerni had been surprisingly kind about writing a cheque for additional ten thousand dollars and had said  'And when you finish bring me photo. I am not getting any younger' . 

The story shifts to Skardu, where Greg ordered cables and material required for the bridge.  He took help from Changazi,  who was happy to help because of the kickbacks he got from his contacts.  He also collected rent for the school material he had stored in his office.

Fully accepted by the people of Korphe, and treated like a son of Haji Ali, Mortenson went hunting with them when there was a break due to the rains. It took them seven days to spot an Ibex and kill. Scratching out  food and warmth to survive on the roof of the world took all of one's energy. ..It was no wonder that the great peaks of Himalayas remained unconquered till the mid-twentieth century.

Mortenson finally managed to get the bridge constructed.  Got designs done by an army engineer and hired skilled masons to make the columns. Most importantly because of the help  from Haji Ali, who had the foresight and the power to influence his people. When it rained heavily when the cables were just eighteen miles away and  could not be delivered, he proposed that every able-bodied man in the village pitch in to carry the cables to Korphe so that they could begin work on the bridge at once, which they did cheerfully.

The book dwells on many aspects of harsh realities of living in these beautiful surroundings, which beckons climbers from the outside world! It also speaks of the cultural differences between them and the western visitors. 

Chengazi, who  seemed to attract female tourists and trekkers, tells Greg how he squared his dalliances with his devotion to Islam. He petitioned his mullah to make a muthaa, a temporary marriage. ...Better to sanctify the union, however short-lived, in Allah's sight, than simply have sex.  Asked if Balti women whose husbands were away could also be granted muthaa...'No, of course not.'  said Chegazi, waggling his head at the naivete of Mortenson's question.

Mortenson and Twaha, Haji Ali's son had become close.  He once told Greg how he missed his beautiful wife, who had died giving birth to his only child. But he had not married again, as he did not find anyone who he could love. But it did not stop him from as he said. 'Sometimes I ....enjoy.'  With widows he added to Greg's question, 'We have many widows in Korphe.'

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