Friday 15th March
Our first encounter with Karma Gurung was when we were field walking just opposite his house. Later, we would find out it was his grandfather’s house – he now lives in the main village of Humde.
Sanda and Sandep, who have been carrying the archaeological equipment, roughly translated for us.
It transpired that he sold artefacts to passing trekkers. We managed to establish that a lot of what he sold belonged to his grandfather.
Today, we went back to his grandfather’s house and he showed us more of his ‘collection’. He then produced a basket of tiny potatoes, baked in his fire for us. After peeling and discarding the skins we were supposed to dip them a spice mix. It had an almighty kick, I only dipped once.
‘Did you grow the potatoes?’ I ask.
‘Yes, in my fields here,’ he said sweeping his hands around.
‘Are they this year’s early ones or last year’s?’ I ask, biting into one.
‘Last year. That is why they are so sweet.’
Later in the day Karma invited us to his proper house. It was a huge honour to go into the one room home that he had helped his father to build 40 years beforehand. Not only that, he had helped his father cut down the trees for the timber.
A fire in the centre of the room with piles of grey ash around it; shelves on one wall filled with pots, plates and pans; three big wooden trunks stacked in the corner, three big jars filled with dried juniper branches draped with white peace scarfs and a single box bed. The room was dark, no windows, just a smoke hole which cast shafts of light onto the floor.
Hayley asks if she can visit him again in the future. His reply was effectively, if god allows.