November 08, 2005

More Kallash stories

If you scroll down a bit you'll find some earlier stories about my experiences in Pakistan with the Kallash tribe. I've fucked up the chronology a bit...

The morning after I arrived at the Kallash village another English guy I had met in Delhi on his way to Pakistan arrived. There was a Canadian girl there too. The sparseness of western tourists in Pakistan alleviated a little. On a patch of grass in front of my room a group of Pakistani Pentecostals were singing and praying with a group of bemused Kallash children.

I wandered down to find a doctor who was with the Christians immunizing kids. The preacher was working himself up. He had glazed eyes, a big moustache and an expensive looking brown leather jacket. He asked me if I was a Christian.

“No. I thought I'd come and learn what these guys beliefs are before trying to inflict them with mine. I think what you are doing is wrong.” I said happily.

“What is in your ears?” asked the preachers sour faced, fat wife.

“Yeah, bones.” I said.

“I think that is not nice. It is ugly.”

I didn't tell her what I thought of her relative beauty.

“Do you know what these people believe? When you've done this immunizing you are going to leave aren't you? You're not interested in these people at all are you?” I pressed.

“These people are very backward.” said the woman.

“Can I pray for you?” asked the preacher.

“Do what you like.” I said.

He prayed in my direction, very dramatically. Then he put his hands on me and started shouting. I realized what he was up to and loosened myself from his grip.

“This is not a devil it is ME!” I shouted, pointing at my face.

I got up and moved away. The preacher carried on praying whilst his wife told the gathered children to close their eyes.

I spoke to an older Kallashi.

“Do you believe all this?” I asked.

He pulled me to one side.

“People like this come here all the time. They think we are backward, but they give us medicine, and we listen to them talk about their religion. We are Kallash. We have our own religion. Pakistanis try to convert us to Islam or Christianity but our western visitors always take an interest in us how we are.”

I was pleased that the Kallash were in no way naive about their visitors. I was assured the next day Yoshi festival would start.

“Will there be dancing? I asked.

“Yes. For two days we dance in the fields then we dance in our meeting place in the next village.”

“Can I join in?”

“Of course you can.”


DAVE BONES said...

Yeah pakistan certainly gave me a different sense of identity travelling in this way than London did.

Odge said...

Sounds like you had an interesting time. Cheers for sharing it.

Indigobusiness said...

What an evocative illustration in contrast! The irony reminds me of a documentary about an American guy who walked the length of Japan. He encountered a couple of missionaries(from the USA)on bicycles.

He stopped them to ask what they were doing. They told him. He got in their faces asking, "Just exactly what are YOU trying to save THEM from?". It was rich.

The Japanese people he met along the way seemed extraordinarily gentle, propsperous, generous and productive...brimming with happiness.

The missionaries, on the other hand, seemed naive, overly scrubbed, a bit lost...almost doomed.

Another interesting study in contrast.