Khuds and Paharis - 28 Mar 1998 - Gil

Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 11:53:23 -0800
From: Gil
Subject: Khuds and Paharis

I expect you may all be feeling inundated from all the messages I'm sending out this spring morning here in Eugene but I can't resist making some responses to two comments Norm made in his letter.

First, about the dangers of the khuds. [Reply to Norman. See also Christopher and Robert F.] The Landour hillside is indeed impressive in its steepness but in all my years there I can't remember a single person from the school community being killed or even seriously injured from falling down the khud (one of the Fiol boys did break both arms and smashed his teeth falling of a tree down at Smith's swimming hole). There was a chowkidar, who coming back drunk from Sister's Bazaar one night, fell down the dry waterfall next to Zigzag and was killed. I saw his body the next morning when I came out of Zigzag to go to school. My mother also used to tell me stories of two kids who had died (perhaps in the 30s or early 40s) from carelessness. One was someone who turned around to wave goodbye to someone and stepped backwards off the path (I have an idea this was somewhere near Tafton but I may be wrong). The other was a girl on a picnic in the section of Kellog Cemetary that is below the chukkar (the Catholic section, I think, as opposed to the upper, Protestant section). She was running down the khud and grabbing a pine tree and swinging around it. She missed and skidded down the slippery pine needles and over a cliff. I was told this story while we were picnicing at this very spot! The point I wish to make, however, is that there is probably as much danger from the occassional earthquake or bazaar riot as there is from the khud. Certainly there is less danger than there is from traffic even in small towns in the US.

Second, Norm mentions wishing he had learned more about the local people, the Paharis, when we were living there. This is a sentiment that I share and it happens that I have just discovered a book that fills the bill exactly! Some of you may have already discovered Gerald D. Berreman's "Hindus of the Himalayas, ethnography and change" which is a report of his field work conducted from 1957 to 1958 in a village 14 or 15 miles from Woodstock! He calls the village "Sirkanda" although this is a pseudonym. It can be reached by going out Tehri road past Suokholi and then turning south and descending (I think) the first range of Tehri hills for a few miles towards the Dun. In the credits he thanks, among others, Dick Smith's parents! I only got the book a couple of days ago, when I went up to Portland with Martha to go to a quilt show and an exhibition of Egyptian art, so I haven't read much of it yet but what I have looked at is extremely interesting.

I expect that this is going to be my last message for today so goodbye for now.

Gil

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