Friday, August 16, 2013

Greg Mortenson strays into village Korphe. ...Three cups of tea,

Mortenson walked towards the apricot orchards, surprising the working women. They pulled their shawls over their faces and ran behind the trees to hide from the strange white man. But children followed him, fingered his shalwar, searched his wrist for the watch and took turns holding his hand. ..Their shalwar kamiz was as stained as his own, and most were barefoot despite the cold.

Mortenson smelled the village a mile before he approached it. The scent of juniper woodsmoke and unwashed humanity was overwhelming after the serenity of the altitude.... By the time he reached the village's ceremonial entrance, he was leading a procession of fifty children.

He was hoping to see Mouzafer waiting at the outskirts of the village. Instead he was greeted by Haji Ali, the nurmadhar, the chief of the village. 

Haji Ali lead him to a ceremonial brook and after he had washed his hand and foot took him home and offered him a place to sit close to the hearth. Ali then gave him a piece of tobacco on which Mortenson choked as the gallery of spectators chuckled appreciatively. No foreigner had been to the village before.

After tea the headman had a question. Mortenson explained with snacthes of Balti and a lot gesticulation that he had walked here to Askole to find a jeep to go to Skardu, the capital of Baltistan. And exhausted he sank back into the cushion. Haji Ali said laughing it was not Askole but Korphe. Mortenson had never heard of Korphe and rousing himself explained that he had to go to Askole to meet a man named Mouzafer who was carrying all his belongings.

Twaha, Haji Ali's son explained that it was not possible then and said 'Inshallah, tomorrow Haji send find man Mouzafer. Now you slip.'   Mortenson despite the anxiety swirling through his thoughts, his anger at himself for having strayed from the trail again ....fell unshakably asleep.

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