Perspectives from the Himalaya

Surviving a Grouchy Buffalo and Mother Nature

A grouchy hairy beast shoots a piercing look. In your direction. What do you do? Run like the Bolt and don’t look back. 

Buffaloes don’t have much sense of humour. They are dead serious and give no warning at all. We were told that one will never outrun a buffalo, nor survive them in a wrestle, so your only option is to get a head start and climb a tree.

Big A seems to be attracting the beast around the corner these days. 3 times in a span of 4 days. Mr. Grouchy has taken an eye perhaps, on his growing tuft of unruly hair on his bobbing head as he comes running along the muddy path. Whether the beast has a fetish irk or simply looking for someone to headbutt, Big A was not willing to find out. He came running home, panting like a hound and all red in the face. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much sign of terror, rather more of a I-can’t-believe-what-I-just went-through experience.

Work on site has thankfully started again when we ran out of materials during the lockdown period for the last 3 weeks. Everyone’s spirit was admittedly low especially witnessing daily torrential rains beating on the rammed earth walls that has yet to be completed and sheltered. Hail, rain and wind has ironically been greeting us daily during the supposedly driest months of the year. It’s a blessing for the crops, and for us to have guilt free showers and more regular laundry but notoriously disruptive with construction. Nevertheless, sand, bricks and reinforcement bars arrived miraculously from the nearest town after much perseverance and resourcefulness from R. And notwithstanding challenging wet days of getting the lorry out of ridiculously muddy terrain and dirt roads. We are in a dire situation where we are grateful for any available material and skill that comes our way to finish up the tie beam.

After much restlessness at home, Big A is back on site actively engaged with the local bricklayer, learning to lay bricks for the internal walls.

Suresh, our indispensable lead builder and R have been doing some serious elevated jig, measuring the locations of I-beams and tie beams on a pre-thunderstorm morning.

Meanwhile, Little A has been busy foraging for the edible wilds – mint, spinach and aiselu for our daily meals. Wild spinach with hues of purple in furry-like green leaves can be found growing abundantly around the terraces with the help of wind that disperses spores over short distances. Similarly, wild mint spreads easily by the means of rhizomes that requires almost no attention. Aiselu is a delicious yellow Himalayan berry that grows wildly between February to May. Our robust source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, it is actually categorized as an invasive species because it forms thick, impenetrable thorny thickets. The act of foraging these berries requires one-pointed focus if one intends to savour this fruit scatheless. Regardless, the rewards of these juicy beauties always leave a smile on the children’s faces.

As the Arctic continues to melt and the temperature difference relative to the equator is reducing, many unusual abnormalities have been witnessed around the world. Winters have become longer and frosty, droughts are becoming a norm in many countries, and precipitation has become extreme and unpredictable. There is wonder if global warming that is melting the snow-capped mountains at a rapid pace is exacerbating stormy weather during the pre-monsoon seasons in the Himalayan regions.

Never have we experienced such proximity and intimacy with the grouchiness of Mother Nature. Neither has Big A encountered such closeness with Mr. Grouchy, who turns out to be a beast – of merely a year old.