Hunza, Pakistan: Growing up in Hunza

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Hunza, Pakistan: Growing up in Hunza

What is it like to grow up in Hunza? Well, first let me tell you what it is not.

It is not just enjoying these views from your window

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Hunza View

Imagine looking out your window at grape leaves silhouetted against a backdrop of mountains, and all of this goes unnoticed because you wake up to it every day.

Our land does not allow many crops to grow, but it does love grapes – and so do we. You will find a bunch of these grapes growing in people’s backyards and gardens.

The next best thing to grapes are Hunza’s mulberries. Mulberries have been around for ages. I can say this because I still remember my brother’s fall from a 40ft high tree, breaking his left arm in an attempt to collect mulberries. We love climbing up the mulberry trees, but usually don’t enjoy the fall!

It is not just dancing to super cool traditional music

Hunza Musicians

Hunza’s Musicians

We have a lot of strong wood around, and our ancestors learned how to make musical instruments from this wood. The music of Hunza reminds me that our ancestors used to practice Hinduism and Buddhism before travelers from Persia brought the new religion of Islam into the lives of the mountain people and convinced them that it was a better deal.

Hunza is still one of the most happy, peaceful and lovely places on planet earth.

AK

Traditional instruments include a high pitched flute, called ‘Tutek,’ along with set of large drums, ‘Dadang,’ and a bunch of small drums played by sticks, ‘Tatamal.’ Tradition says that whenever our king felt like it was a good day to dance or celebrate, he would summon the musicians and people would gather to dance near the King’s Palace.

This reminds me of yet another history lesson, Hunza and the adjacent areas were traditionally ruled by Kings and Princes, along with a kind of social hierarchy that starting with the “Tham” (King in our native language), followed by the Wazier (Prime Minister), Trangfa (Army Leader), and then finally the common people.

It is not just having exotic animals to practice photography on

Hunza Resident

Hunza Resident

This beautiful cat is a snow leopard, and in the Mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan (the larger district that Hunza belongs to) we have three mountain ranges, The Karakorum, The Hindukush and the Himalayans, which are home to these fantastic creatures. Sadly, due to hunting and other not-so-nice practices, the cats and other mountain animals are becoming harder to spot (if you have a kind heart, let me know and I can get you in touch with initiatives for saving mountain animals).

And it’s just not animals that are cool to photograph – the humans are also beautiful here!

It is not just eating food that will make you live for 100 years

My Grandfather

My Grandfather

That is my grandfather (on the left) with a shepherd we meet on our way to some hot springs in the mountains. I often procrastinate by entering various words in the google search bar, and when I type in ‘Longevity, Fountain of Youth or People Who Live the Longest,’ I often come across some mention of the Hunza Valley. It has always been a place where people live long lives.

My grandfather, who will hit 90 in 2019, is a man who can outpace me when climbing the hills and mountains. This is probably due to my bad health choices and cream-coated donut intake, but the food of the Hunza people is healthy and minimalist (with almost no oil and spices) and the lifestyle is rigorous and physical challenging. People here have structured their body, mind and spirit to outlast the city dwellers.

It is not just being in one of the best places to live

Hunza Peaks

Hunza Peaks

Things are gradually changing, our land and mountains may still be the same, but our lifestyle isn’t. And with the import of oil and processed food from the cities, the charms of our people are slowing fading. However, I don’t like sad endings, so I will say this: Hunza is still one of the most happy, peaceful and lovely places on planet earth.

To my readers: if you come here, let me know and I will treat you to a traditional homemade butter and honey breakfast at my home in the mountains. It will be impossible not to fall in love with the place or the food!

Cheers from the mountains!

Alamgir Khan

Alamgir Khan

Alamgir is a blogger whose work may be found at http://letuswhisper.com.

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