So much in life can’t happen without the kindness of others, and this is especially true here in the Himalayas.
In a “subsistence-plus” economy such as we have here in Himachal Pradesh, most villagers have enough land to feed their families, more or less, so they don’t necessarily need to work for anyone but themselves in order to survive. Like their fellow humans across the globe, though, modern Himalayan villagers seek more than mere survival. They want some comfort and convenience, and they want a better life for their children.
The costs of staple foods, fuel, and energy are rising continually and, these days, a lot of the locals also want an addition to their home and an upgrade from bicycle to scooter to motorcycle to car — maybe even an iPhone. Even in the enchanted forests of the Himalayas, these things don’t grow on trees. If you want anything more than you can grow on your own land, you’ll need to find paid work. For all of these reasons, most of the villagers here must look for outside jobs.
Even so, they don’t show up for work just because you pay them. If these dignified Himalayan villagers leave their own land to work for someone else, it’s not only because the wages are compelling, but also because they think the work itself is worth doing and they have a reasonable degree of respect for the people with whom and for whom they’re working. Otherwise, most self-respecting Himachalis would sooner stay home (and, truth be told, they often do, as anyone who has tried to build or repair something here will attest).
So, in such a climate, what happens when the work to be done is even more difficult than usual, the location remote, and the conditions somewhat unreasonable? And what if the one who needs the work done is a nonprofit organization with a sandal-strap budget and a mountain to scale?
Well, it all comes down to kindness.
Take our recent avalanche, for example…