Tosh and the surrounding area at this time of year has a special kind of magic. The tourists have largely gone and the snow on the ground gives the light and incredible quality. Especially early in the morning and at dusk, the sheer scale of where I am is dramatically demonstrated over and over.
The village at night is a sleepy place with a couple of the more popular hostels and cafes getting most of the available customers. It is easy to wander around and meet almost everyone in town. As always I’m finding a steady flow of Cream is being offered, so I happily take the chance to sample as much as is possible.
It is on one of these evenings I am witness to one of the more profound moments of this part of the trip. I’m politely invited outside my guesthouse to observe the slaughter of a goat, It’s not the first time I have seen this but this is the first one in India. The Animal remained calm throughout and the actual act was over in the blink of an eye. Everything was done in a quiet and peaceful manner and the guys taking part were extremely professional. It’s a fairly sombre affair and I understand there is some ritual significance of thanksgiving to this slaughter. Out of respect, I won’t post any pictures on the blog, but it was an experience I won’t forget and it definitely gave a deeper understanding of the people who lived up here in the mountains.
All animals here are valued dearly and nothing goes to waste. The Goat is skinned and butchered in minutes and the parts distributed amongst the various bystanders. Some is sent to the kitchen and soon we are all tucking into a delicious mountain goat curry.
I have started to explore up the various valleys that run up from Tosh and the surrounding area each day. The views back down keep getting better and every day’s exploration brings new information on the local phenotypes and farming techniques. Small details such as how they fertilize using local cow herds in the fields before planting. Herders are encouraged to bring their animals up the mountain and graze them in the fields.
Soon though it is time to leave this lovely place and head back across the valley to the ‘Three Sisters’ Kalga, Pulga and Tulga. Once again I have to say goodbye to friends old and new and go through the ritual of packing as efficiently as I can before setting out on another fairly long trek back across the valley but with beautiful views and a pocket full of some of the best Charas on earth I happily set out again with a wave and a smile.