Malana was my very first outing with the GoPro, after being forced into using the camera by a friend in the spring of 2016. In his words, “Try the camera and it will blow your mind away”. To be very honest I did not think much about the camera, but how wrong I was going to be proved on my very first outing with the GoPro Hero4 Black.
So while hiking down from the village of taboos – Malana in Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, I was stopped by three curious old Malanaese ladies who wanted to know what in the world was strapped to my head. A camera, is what I told them, it was. Their reaction was priceless, as they looked on and wanted to have a closer look at the camera.
They asked me to take it off and keep it on the stone slab on the side, so they could have a better look. Villagers from Malana believe that they are descendants of Alexander the Great and are from the Aryan race. This makes them untouchables and coming in physical contact with anyone from outside will result in a fine for the outsider and a bad name for the local.
After almost five years of travelling around the valley, this was the first time I had an opportunity to talk to the ladies from the village. It’s something that is virtually impossible most of the times as they are very shy and never even okay with anyone clicking a picture of them.
While we sat and they looked at the camera trying to figure what that tiny box (the GoPro) was I asked them a few things about life in this mysterious village.
These three ladies claimed to be in their early 50s. They said that they were grandmothers and had lived their entire life without going beyond Bhuntar, the entry point to the valley. When I asked them why it’s always the ladies who carry heavy logs of firewood up to the village daily. They replied back telling me, that it’s like a mortal sin for them to ask their husbands to do any work.
A surprising reply, which had me even more curious than before I had asked the question. They went on to explain that, the tradition of the village has been such for as long as they could remember. This was something they saw their mothers and grandmothers do while they were kids.
When I asked them what the men from the village do all day. All three smiled and told me, they chill all day and either sell or smoke the herb themselves.
I took back two things that day from the hike to Malana. One, that the GoPro is without a doubt the camera I need. And two, Malana will always be a village which is lost in time, where modern rules won’t really apply or make any sense to them.
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