In the cold ranges of the Himalayas, dwell the people donning black shawls embellished with bright beads. Half-way as high as the greatest peaks of the world, the people who live here struggle hard to make ends meet.
I visited Mana, the last inhabited village before the Mana pass – the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world. Set amidst natural scenic beauty, Mana is amongst the harshest places to live in. Most women are engaged in making garments out of wool and the men supplement the household income by volunteering to carry tourists on their backs. They make use of chairs crafted of straws and bamboos carrying tourists to viewpoints and places of interest that are accessible only on foot. Tiring away, they work extremely hard charging token amounts for their services.
“People won’t hire us if we charge more”, says one porter who claims to be doing this job for as long as he could remember. “Although, I would love to make some more money for my hard work.”, he added.
Even though there is no shortage of water, the soil of the mountains is not very fertile. As a consequence the villagers resort to growing crops on a thin layer of soil which that they lay on their rooftops. They survive the summers on the yield of the crops that they are able to grow on their respective rooftops.
“When it snows there are hardly any crops left. We face a lot of hardships in regards to food. There is little vehicle connectivity this high up in the mountains to supply food.”, complained a villager.
Despite the scarcity of food supply, and much to my surprise, I was able to get Maggie and other fast food items in a shop nearby which is well regarded as the last shop of India towards the Indo-Tibetian border.