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Dolpeli Alu

November 27, 2017
Venturing Dolpo was a tough job but it was definitely worth it. My experiences of moments spent in Dolpo are beyond what the beauty of the empyrean got my eyes shining. The hardships to survive in that rugged terrain with least verdure and stories of the flesh and bones struck me which are the memories, lessons and experience gifted to me by Dolpo.

Dolpo is not Dolpa; Dolpo is upper region of Dolpa which is wild and arid whereas Dolpa is a district. Generally, it seems like as if it has been raising almost all the geographical characteristics that are present in the earth; from greens, snowcapped, deserted and rocky terrains at many points where, the perishable beings were covered with wool. Small villages could be found on the way to upper Dolpo but interspaced of kilometers. Since decades, Dolpeli are depended for their survival on a biyearly journey across the Himalayas. During summer season, a little harvesting is done and after that is over, the people of Dolpo sew flags and red pommels into the ears of their yaks, rub butter on their horns and throw barley seeds in the cold air soaked by the rustic earth. Then they leave the fertile middle hills of their homeland and head to the plateau of Tibet, where they carry out an ancient trade with Tibetan contiguous.

Dolpo didn’t know what infrastructure was, but somehow its people would survive well. Barley and potato are the only harvests that are done in Dolpo. Yes, after giving you some hints about Dolpo, I am now actually going to describe you “The Alu Story”. It is not even a story; it’s just an elaborative description of what I observed and felt. So, when I reached to a part of Dolpo where a little production of alu were taking place, I saw women getting inside and taking alu out of the hollow land as if they were taking rabbits out of a burrow. That was quite amusing for me as we never stored alu inside the earth and we would probably not fit inside the basket. After taking them out, they would separate the alu. The ones which are greener and have already spread its roots out would be kept aside to produce kids of alu and the better ones were harvested by their hunger.

The terrain for farming would be lower than the place where they would live like Dhotarap which is one of the highest communities of the world so it was a very tough job to bring all alu harvested back to home. And I found out that this is the reason why people would make another home inside the earth for the alu to live in until and unless they become food for the hunger or the multiplier of the product. Dolpo can’t feed its children with the typical rice-lentil or the fish-chips like we eat. They feed on alu, Lagad (flattened bread made out of buckwheat) and Yak Milk. In fact, I was amused to see green leafy veggies in Tinje Valley which had cost us Rs. 500 per fist. But as they have the least nutritional food to eat, they’ve got nutrition problems like deficiency of iodine and calcium and many other sorts of Vitamins. Dolpeli alu have been one of the only ways to cut off their starvation and in my opinion, they are not starving for food but they are a little hungry for nutrition as the Dolpeli alu can’t give all the nutrition required by them which brings an alu named goiter near their face.
  • The gelid and arid Dolpo with rocky terrain at some point, a bit greenery splashed into the land and snow capped knolls.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • locals trying to grow verdure by shoving of the hard and arid terrain.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • Local woman taking fun even in the hardship of growing greenery in the middle of the dry land.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • A local lass of Dolpo taking the alu (potato) out of the terrain where they store it.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • A damsel of Dolpo spreading off their productivity that once took place when the rustic dry land soaked the seeds in.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • A local woman of Dolpo spreading the alu (potato) that are to be eaten and that are to be grown again.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • gathering the fruit of my work, leaving some behind for it to grow again.
    Dolpo Nepal
  • portrait of Dolpeli woman.
    Dolpo Nepal