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Karimabad

Titik Nol 153: Keresahan yang Terpendam

Terpenjara [ilustrasi] (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Di balik terali besi pintu gerbang penjara kota Gilgit, saya berjumpa dengan kedua gadis Indonesia yang terpenjara. Dua gadis itu bertubuh pendek. Berkaus lengan panjang dan mengenakan celana training. Warna kerudung mereka mencolok, menyembulkan rambut hitam di dahi. “Mas dari Indonesia ya?” sapa gadis kedua yang baru datang. Suaranya lembut. Ramah sekali. “Sendirian ke sini? Kenapa ke sini?” Saya bercerita tentang Rajja Sadafar dari kantor District Commissioner di Gilgit. Si gadis mengangguk-angguk, mengucapkan terima kasih. Gadis yang satu lagi, yang semula berteriak-teriak mengusir saya, kini datang mendekat dan bergabung dalam percakapan. Tetapi, belum sempat kami bercakap-cakap banyak, dan masih cuma taraf basa-basi, tiba-tiba terdengar suara menggelegar. “Jao!Tum jao! Pergi! Pergi kamu!” Seorang sipir berlari sambil membentak, membuat gerakan seperti mengusir ayam. Tak pernah saya diperlakukan seperti ini selama berada di Pakistan, yang orang-orangnya ramah dan lembut. “Jao!” teriaknya lagi. Kini sudah hampir menyeret saya menjauh. Di kejauhan, Mariam dan Christina sayup-sayup memandang. Saya tak tahu apa yang mereka pikirkan. Pertemuan ini sangat mengecewakan. Sudah sekian lama saya memimpikan untuk bertemu dengan kedua gadis ini. Sebenarnya saya sudah mendengar kisah mereka sejak dua bulan silam, dari gosip-gosip yang beredar di Gilgit. Adalah Rajja Sadafar yang membuat saya [...]

March 25, 2015 // 4 Comments

Titik Nol 131: Berjalan Lagi

Mata Hassan masih sembab melepas kepergian kedua anaknya (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Saya melihat tetes air menggenangi mata Hassan Shah melepas kepergian anak-anaknya. Saya teringat air mata yang sama mengalir di kedua belah pipi ibunda saya. Sudah sepuluh hari Karimabad terkunci dari dunia luar. Jalan Karakoram Highway, satu-satunya jalan yang menghubungkan Islamabad ke negeri Tiongkok melintasi barisan gunung tinggi Himalaya, tak bisa ditembus. Penyebabnya, badai salju menyebabkan beberapa titik sepanjang jalan ini ditimbun longsor. Batu-batu gunung raksasa bisa begitu saja berpindah tempat dari puncak sana ke badan jalan. Di belahan bumi ini, di tengah musim seperti ini, longsor batu sama lazimnya dengan chapati di pagi hari. Lebih dari sebulan sudah saya terperangkap di Hunza. Semula saya datang dengan tubuh lemah, nafsu makan minim, dan mata kuning mengerikan. Tetapi udara pegunungan surgawi yang berdaya magis dalam sekejap menyembuhkan penyakit saya. Setelah beristirahat sekian lama, rasanya segenap semangat hidup saya sudah kembali lagi, walaupun saya belum yakin kekuatan tubuh ini sudah pulih seperti sedia kala. Lepas dari hepatitis, sekarang saya ditekan rasa berdosa. Dulu semangat saya begitu meluap-luap, ingin segera membaktikan diri ke daerah gempa di Kashmir. Tetapi kini, saya tak lebih dari seorang turis lemah yang menghabiskan hari-hari di pondokan, menonton film India [...]

February 23, 2015 // 1 Comment

Titik Nol 129: Menjemput Sang Istri

Pengantin pria siap menjemput sang putri (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Rombongan barat berarak-arak menyusuri jalan sempit di pinggir rumah-rumah batu Karimabad. Kami menuju Hassanabad bersama sang pengantin pria untuk menjemput sang putri. Pukul sembilan pagi. Rumah keluarga karim mulai ramai didatangi sanak saudara. Bahkan ada beberapa paman yang sudah sejak beberapa hari yang lalu datang dari luar kota dan menginap di sini. Bocah-bocah perempuan anak tetangga berlari riang di halaman, menunjukkan tangan mereka yang sudah berhias henna. Yang laki-laki sudah siap dengan korek dan petasan. Ledakan demi ledakan sambung-menyambung. Di ruang utama, di bawah potret besar sang pemimpin spiritual Aga Khan yang sedang tersenyum, para pria kerabat dekat menikmati sarapan pagi – roti tipis chapati yang dimakan dengan gumpalan mentega padat. Minumnya adalah teh susu campur mentega, asin rasanya. Semua pria yang duduk di ruangan ini, termasuk saya, adalah kaum barati. Kami akan ikut dalam rombongan barat, rombongan pengantin pria untuk menjemput pengantin perempuan di rumahnya. Amin Khan, sang pengantin pria, kakak kandung Karim, sudah tiga puluh tahunan umurnya. Ia pemilik hotel di dusun Altit di atas Karimabad. Wajahnya garang dan tegang. Kumisnya tebal. Matanya menyorot tajam. Ia mengenakan shalwar kamiz putih bersih, dipadu dengan sweater abu-abu untuk mengusir dingin. Pakaian pengantin [...]

February 19, 2015 // 0 Comments

Titik Nol 128: Sharbat dan Tamasha

Sharbat (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Semarak tari-tarian di malam yang gelap, memecah kesunyian pegunungan bisu Karakoram, mengawali hidup baru sepasang pengantin di Karimabad. Karim adalah seorang kawan Hussain si juru masak. Rumah Karim hari ini sibuk sekali, karena keluarga besar itu sedang menyiapkan acara pernikahan. “Makanlah ini,” Karim menyuguhi saya semangkuk makanan yang nampak seperti bubur. Namanya sharbat, makanan wajib pesta pernikahan di Hunza. Sharbat selalu dimasak oleh laki-laki, terbuat dari mentega yang direbus dengan air dalam wajan besar dengan api kecil, dicampur tepung kasar sampai mengental. Hangat, lembek, sedikit hambar. Di tengah kesibukannya membersihkan rumah, Karim bercerita bahwa kakaknya, Amin Khan, akan menikah besok lusa.. Pernikahan di Hunza selalu jatuh hari Sabtu. Tetapi sehari sebelumnya, hari Jumat, baik di keluarga pengantin pria dan wanita pesta sudah dimulai. Masing-masing keluarga mengundang tetangga, kerabat, dan kawan-kawan untuk makan siang. Menunya adalah sharbat, makanan kental yang barusan saya santap. “Acara besok dan besok lusa pasti meriah,” kata Karim, “Besok adalah acara tamasha, acara pesta dengan tari-tarian. Hari Sabtu lusa adalah puncak dari semua perayaan ini – nikah. Nikah akan dilaksanakan di jemaatkhana di dekat rumah pengantin perempuan. Nanti kami akan berombongan berangkat ke sana.” Untuk urusan jumlah tamu dan rombongan di Hunza ada aturan [...]

February 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

Titik Nol (127): Dusun Mati

Desa mati yang ditinggal penduduknya di musim dingin (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Dusun Karimabad terperangkap dalam sepi. Salju terus mengguyur, menyelimuti lereng gunung dengan warna putih yang merambah semua sudut. Teras-teras ladang bagaikan lautan salju yang berombak. Saya juga terperangkap di sini. Sekarang hanya ada seutas jalan yang menghubungkan Karimabad dengan dunia luar – Karakoram Highway. Ke utara, ke arah China, perbatasan ditutup total sejak awal Januari. Ke selatan, ke arah kota-kota Pakistan, jalan pun tertutup oleh longsoran batu gunung. Seluruh wilayah Northern Areas sekarang terperangkap dalam dunianya sendiri. Saya sudah ingin cepat-cepat meninggalkan surga di lereng Karakoram ini menuju Kashmir, tempat saya seharusnya bekerja sebagai sukarelawan. Tetapi harga karcis bus ke Rawalpindi sungguh mahal, 821 Rupee. Karenanya, saya langsung mengiyakan tawaran Akhtar, pemuda dari Sost, yang katanya mau berangkat bersama menuju Islamabad dengan kendaraan pribadinya. Tetapi janji orang sini tak boleh dipercaya seratus persen. Akhtar berkata, seminggu lagi kita berangkat. Saya sudah menunggu seminggu penuh, tak ada kabar juga. Komunikasi satu-satunya yang mungkin hanya via telepon. Di musim dingin begini, hanya ada satu warung telepon yang buka di Karimabad. Saya harus naik bukit hanya untuk sekadar menanyakan kapan ia berangkat. Jawabannya, bisa ditebak, “Mister,‘dua’ hari lagi”. Dua hari berikutnya, di bawah [...]

February 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

Titik Nol 124: Mehman

Puncak-puncak lancip pegunungan di Pasu (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) “Aap hamare mehman hai. Anda adalah tamu kami,” kata seorang sopir truk dari Karimabad, yang – selain menolak menerima ongkos –  menawari saya sekotak biskuit dan sekaleng minuman. Saya hampir tak bisa berkata-kata menerima ketulusan persahabatan ini. Jika Anda menjelajah Pakistan, ada satu hal yang selalu hadir: keramahtamahan.  Dalam bahasa Urdu disebut mehmannavazi. Tak peduli betapa miskinnya orang-orang di negeri ini, bagaimana pun tingkat pendidikan dan latar belakang sosialnya, semuanya seakan berlomba menawarkan yang terbaik untuk para tamu. Mehman, sebuah konsep yang melekat dalam sanubari penduduk setempat. Begitu kuatnya, sampai saya jadi malu sendiri. Tuan rumah tak makan tak mengapa, asalkan tamu dijamu dengan limpahan makanan mewah. Tak ada uang tak mengapa, asalkan sang tamu tetap merasa nyaman. Menggigil kedinginan bukan masalah, asalkan sang tamu tetap hangat dan lelap. Dari Chapursan kembali ke Karimabad, saya harus melewati Kota Sost di perbatasan Pakistan-Cina. Harga karcis angkot Sost-Karimabad cuma 100 Rupee, sekitar 15 ribu. Tidak mahal. Tapi saya memutuskan berjalan kaki agar lebih menikmati keindahan lembah-lembah dan barisan gunung Karakoram. Kalau sudah capek, sesekali saya menumpang mobil yang melintas. Hari ini matahari bersinar cerah. Lembah tanpa sinar mentari di Chapursan menjadi kenangan. Barisan pegunungan Gojal [...]

February 12, 2015 // 2 Comments

Titik Nol 119: Pelabuhan Darat

Hunza bukan lagi Shangri-La yang tersembunyi, tak terjamah peradaban manusia. Sejak Karakoram Highway selesai dibangun, desa-desa di pegunungan tinggi ini semakin terbuka bersama kemajuan dunia. Pembangunan jalan raya menembus gunung-gunung pada ketinggian di atas 4000 meter bukanlah hal yang mudah. Pemerintah Pakistan dan China bersama-sama mengerjakan proyek ini, membutuhkan waktu 20 tahun, dan baru selesai pada tahun 1986. Panjangnya 1300 kilometer, menghubungkan Islamabad dengan kota Kashgar di propinsi Xinjiang milik Republik Rakyat China. Medannya sangat berat. Pakistan menyebut jalan raya ini sebagai Keajaiban Dunia Kedelapan. Saya berhasil mengalahkan rasa malas, memaksa diri beranjak meninggalkan Karimabad menuju kota Sost, kota terakhir Pakistan sebelum perbatasan China. Saya dengar karena banyaknya orang China, di kota Sost kita bisa membeli makanan China yang asli citarasanya. Dua tahun lalu, saya sudah pernah sampai di sini. Para pekerja China sedang sibuk membangun dry port – pelabuhan darat, yang akan membangkitkan denyut nadi perekonomian di barisan pegunungan Karakoram. Waktu itu mereka sangat gembira, karena kiriman daging babi dari China baru datang. Bagi para pekerja itu, makanan Pakistan terlalu hambar dan tak sesuai lidah mereka. Di seluruh negeri, daging babi tak tersedia sama sekali dan harus diimpor untuk konsumsi sendiri. Selain itu, para pekerja juga tidak bisa hidup [...]

February 5, 2015 // 15 Comments

Titik Nol 118: Firdaus di Atas Awan

Bendera PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) pimpinan Benazir Bhutto berkibar di Karimabad yang dibalut salju tebal (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Al pergi meninggalkan Hunza dengan segala kepuasan batinnya, dalam perjalanan pencarian jati dirinya dengan menemukan komunitas orang-orang seiman. Ia tak lagi mengeluhkan hawa dingin, jalan bolong-bolong, dan ketiadaan tiket pesawat. Jiwa yang terpenuhkan membuat segalanya menjadi indah. Sedangkan saya, masih sendiri di pemondokan kakek tua Haider. Salju turun deras beberapa hari lalu. Jalanan desa yang naik turun makin berbahaya dengan lapisan es selicin cermin. Tak ada pilihan. Saya hanya bisa menghabiskan hari dengan selimut dan jaket tebal, membaca buku, dan menyeruput teh hijau hangat dari teko Kakek Haider. “Aap kaise hai? Bagaimana keadaanmu?” Kakek itu menyapa saya. Kerut-merut tajam menghias sudut matanya. Tubuhya berbalut selimut tebal, topi pakkol coklat menutup kepalanya, menyembunyikan rambut yang memutih. “Aap ki dua hai. Mein thik hun.. Berkat doa Anda, saya baik-baik saja,” saya memasang senyum Kakek Haider menatap bola mata saya dalam-dalam. Sudah tiga hari saya beristirahat di desa beku ini gara-gara penyakit hepatitis-A, kenang-kenangan petualangan di India. Saat seluruh tubuh menguning dan dalam keadaan sakit parah, saya berhasil menyeberang ke Pakistan. Hepatitis bukan barang yang asyik untuk dicoba, apalagi dalam perjalanan keliling dunia. Saya sempat takluk [...]

February 4, 2015 // 7 Comments

Titik Nol 117: Melek Huruf

Di sini semua orang bisa baca tulis Penderitaan di Karimabad yang membeku tidaklah sia-sia. Di sinilah Al menemukan jati dirinya yang selama ini ia cari. Di sinilah ia menemukan komunitas saudara-saudari seiman. Al tak jadi pindah pemondokan. Semua pemondokan sama dinginnya, bahkan Hunza Darbar yang tarifnya 40 dolar per malam itu pun tak punya listrik dan pemanas. Tak ada pesawat ke Islamabad, karena cuaca buruk di musim dingin di daerah yang diapit gunung-gunung bertudung salju sungguh berbahaya bagi penerbangan. Daripada berdiam diri di Karimabad, kami turun ke desa di kaki bukit. Namanya Ganesh, entah kenapa mirip nama dewa Hindu. Kalau di Karimabad penduduknya semua Ismaili, hanya beberapa ratus meter saja di desa Ganesh ini penduduknya penganut Syiah. Kakek Haider sebenarnya adalah penganut Syiah, tetapi Al terlanjur menganggapnya sebagai pemeluk Ismaili dan masih terpesona dalam kegembiraan hidup bersama komunitas orang-orang seiman. Biarlah, biar Al hidup dalam euforianya. Dari Ganesh, kami naik kendaraan Suzuki sampai ke desa berikutnya, Aliabad. Di Pakistan, orang biasa menyebut kendaraan umum menurut merknya. Yang dimaksud Suzuki adalah mobil pickup ukuran kecil. Bagian belakangnya dikasih terpal, untuk tempat duduk penumpang. Kalau tidak cukup, penumpang pria sampai duduk di atap atau berdiri di luar, bergelantungan pada besi bak belakang. [...]

February 3, 2015 // 0 Comments

Titik Nol 116: Karakoram Highway

Kakek tua Haider (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) Di bawah gunung bertudung salju setinggi 7.790 meter, Desa Karimabad diam dalam keheningan. Di sini waktu mengalir lambat-lambat, ditelan keagungan puncak-puncak raksasa. Di bawah sana terhampar Lembah Hunza—terletak di utara Pakistan, diapit tiga gunung besar: Himalaya, Karakoram, dan Pamir. Jalan raya Karakoram Highway berkelok di pinggang gunung, menghubungkan Islamabad—ibu kota Pakistan—dengan kota kuno Kashgar di negeri Tiongkok. “Perjalanan yang benar-benar menyakitkan,” keluh Al, “Saya memang sudah tua. Perjalanan seperti ini sudah bukan untuk umurku lagi.” Saya dan Al baru saja menempuh perjalanan panjang sampai ke dusun Karimabad di jantung Lembah Hunza. Tujuh jam perjalanan Lahore–Rawalpindi plus 22 jam dengan bus menyusuri Karakoram Highway, dan masih ditambah lagi dua jam perjalanan sampai ke Karimabad. Jalannya berkelak-kelok, naik turun, bolong-bolong. Namanya juga jalan gunung. Gunung-gunung di bagian utara Pakistan mengisolasi wilayah pedesaan di seluruh provinsi Northern Areas (NA) di dataran tinggi ini. Ajaib, di liukan tajam punggung bukit, di tepi jurang dengan air sungai yang menggelegak, bisa dibangun jalan raya beraspal yang menghubungkan Pakistan-China, menghidupkan kembali perdagangan Jalur Sutra, dan menyembulkan dusun-dusun Hunza ke atas peta. Namun, bagi Al, itu adalah siksaan. Tak pernah ia semenderita ini. “Masa tak ada pesawat terbang ke Gilgit?” ia mengeluh lagi. [...]

February 2, 2015 // 5 Comments

Children of Gilgit

Gilgit is the closest big town from Karimabad, as well as the center of business and government of Northern Areas of Pakistan.   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. [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Festivities

Wedding is always a happy and merry occasion in Hunza. People dance and drink “Hunza water” (alcoholic drink) until late midnight.   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, [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Coming to New Home

Bride arrives in Karimabad, the house of her newly-wed husband. Starting from today, this village will be her new home.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

United Color of Hunza

Colors riot in grey and shadow. The women of Karimabad went out, filled the alleys and climbed to rooftops, just to see how the arriving bride looks like.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Dowry

The family of the bride prepares a truck load of jehez (dowry from the female side). The dowry consists mostly of daily needs for their daughter. In Indian Subcontinent, dowry is a main issue in most marriages. The government of Pakistan has issued law to limit the value of dowry allowed in a wedding.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Welcoming the Groom

The groom and his family departed from Karimabad to the bride’s house in Hassanabad. The groom family is welcomed with delicacies and lavish lunch.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Traditional Dance

The traditional dance of Hunza imitates the movement of an eagle. Only men are allowed to dance.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Enjoy the Party

The villagers enjoy the noisy celebration of a wedding in Karimabad, Hunza. The usually quite and cold winter days suddenly turned to a party mood.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Go Pick Your Wife

Parents prepare groom with traditional dresses. After some rituals in their house, the groom and family will depart to the bride’s house to pick her home.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Decorated Palms

Girls decorate their palms for wedding celebration in the village.   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 [...]

January 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

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