In other parts of Pakistan, photographing women is very difficult. It’s a big taboo for unrelated men to see the faces of women, to talk with women, not mention to photograph them. But in Hunza, where people believe in Ismaili sect which don’t really emphasize on sexual segregation, women are much more relaxed in communication with people from the opposite sex. They don’t hide their faces under burqa, and also maintain high existence in public places.
There, under the shades of the mountains, you will freeze at the land with no sunshine…
People of Hunza in Northern Pakistan warned me when I attempted to move further north, closer to the mountainous border of China and Afghanistan. Hunza and Gojal in Northern Areas of Pakistan (now known as Gilgit Baltistan province) are blessed (or cursed?) by snowcapped mountain ranges, among the highest in the world. They are majestic heavenly scenery, potential to attract international tourists, but with current situation in Pakistan, tourism is not in good shape anyway. While most tourists come in summer, I arrived in Chapursan in winter, when sunshine does not come to villages for two and a half months continuously.
Unlike most parts of Pakistan, the people in Hunza and Gojal believe in Ismaili sect of Islam, which are very moderate and forward-looking. Good education to both boys and girls result in the highest literacy rate nationwide. The Ismiali spiritual leader, His Highness Aga Khan insisted that girl education has to be prioritized as woman will teach the whole family. Mehmannavazi, or hospitality, is the way of life here, as the culture dictates them. There might be no sunshine up there, but there is always sunshine deep in heart.
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