We live in North Pakistan since a few years.
This winter was a very harsh winter...
There was loads of snow.
No work could be done.
In most areas there is no work to be done, no income... just sit indoors and eat potatoes... for MONTHS. 🙏☝
It's a GRAVE FULL OF SNOW in Winters.
Roads were blocked.
Loads of wood burned. Many people had to buy expensive fuel. My 2-person household burned wood worth Rs 30,000. That's just for heating.
SORRY AM JUST EDITING AND EDITING MY POST but gotta add just to show you picture of reality: I found out I have to pay to get water hauled... and wood axed. One person I paid defaulted bc emotional issues. Another was engaged for work. Uss ke paas boots nahin.
Toh sirf wood katwaney ke liye joota diya. Kisi ka chota sa qarza utara. Kisi ko khana khilaya. ... phir Allah Allah karke train agay chali.
In some extreme areas... all this means that... there is only a 3-4 month window of work, and income. Nothing grows outside of 3-4 months... so they have ONE crop which is saved for the rest of the year. For tens of thousands of households.. that crop is POTATOES. So you just get potatoes cooked with water and masala mix for like 8 months of the year... EVERY DAY.
There were several ways locals could make an economy had the planners really thought of them as more than cash cows. 👉gemstone mining and value-addition; 👉 growing vegetables and bringing them to market; 👉animal husbandry (and supplying disease-free meat to nation's markets).... me myself I am a herbalist.
But it seems primary importance is given to tourism only. Governments look at these natural gifts and see **ka-ching**. 💰💲💲
So you see local infrastructure transforming rapidly.. iconic traditional architecture disappearing as if being swallowed by an earth beast... cement uglies rising.
And instead of being a PRODUCER economy this too is becoming a CONSUMERIST economy at a deep trashy end of consumerism.
Soft drinks, chips, tissues, chemical sprays and other junk is coming here by the tons. This is what is being peddled as development and employment. Folks like me who talk of entrepreneurship and EcoEconomy are treated like enemies *because banda Pepsi ka khokha laga raha hai and I am bakbaking about JARI BOOTIs*. 😣😣😥😟
OK I was going to make some other point but I am now also making a second. And some distant third. 😶
👉 My first point is that please be kind and don't argue on prices especially of petty things. I have seen people (regrettably often foreigners, Pakistanis seem understanding by comparison and often say BHAI AAP NE BHI BACHON KO KHILANA HAI... may God bless those who are kind to the poor, Amen!) try to buy Rs 15/20 ka boiled egg at 12/15 instead.
Don't do this.
Some of these people are hauling fuel wood and water on their backs to make tea to sell.. and make a paltry income. Their wives and children suffer if you get stingy... I am the herbalist who has a pulse on the latest ailments and stresses.. I know. A bit.
IF YOU LEAVE TIPS or don't take back small change... it really helps! No pressure but... bless you!! (And your sarak par ban janey wala local friend who has invited you for tea is may be HUNGRY so don't feel awkward in buying bahaney bahaney se a murghi to be cooked for the entire family.... 🐓🐔 Situation dekh kar decide karlen.)
Some people are doing VERY well but income distribution has become VERY skewed so others are practically hungry. Meray paas itni taqat nahin warna mein koi chota mota enterprise program start karkey at least *apna ugao apna khao* ke tehet koi NUTRITION program to jari karti... wanna buy murghis and seeds for villagers magar bas ab apni bhi jeb khali hai so.... socha aapko pegham pohoncha den. Zaroor apney kisi bhai behen se poochtay jana KOI ZAROORAT TO NAHIN. MP3 player type ki disco cheez na den. Koi... income development ya pet bharney ka sochen. Gift something to the WOMAN of the family to make her life easier... be it bars of soap or.... doodh/lassi ki balti. Whatever. #ItCounts. (✔#Gifting ka sochen; ❌charity nahin. Toh phir izzat se maqsad hal hojaye ga.✔✔)
👉 This is more complicated. It's about all this #junk. I guess y'all can help by BUYING LOCAL/unpackaged wherever ya go. Bring your bottles and cutlery, tiffins, crockery and think of creative ways to reduce plastic and styrofoam waste. TELL them you want to see plastic reduced but don't demand it (woh becharay kya karen iss ilaqey mein choice mumkin nahin)... just talk about not needing that extra plastic bag. Bring cloth bags. Get them to pack takeaways in your tiffin. For coffee-on-the-road, bring your travel mugs.
Offer to pay for local water (some places, they bring water in jerry cans.. no taps or running water) but try avoid the bottled water. Tell them you want to buy local organic produce. Ask them about local food and dishes.
Let it be understood by the locals that travelers care.
Just thinking out loud, heart crying out loud for action. Please.
I hope my post is approved and I receive support. Thank you.
Photos: Travelers' messages (and the tea wala's messages) in my local Coffee Shop (dhaba).
By Rmala Alam
The author writes on Facebook by the name Rmalas Projects