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Published: March 14th 2007
A view over Rakkar
The roof of our house is just in the foreground
Rucka, Rucker, Rakker, Rruuucuurr - you wouldn’t believe the trouble the name of this village gave us and we’re still not sure how to say it now!
For example on one bus trip back home from Dharamsala (all of 15km away), we said all the variations of Rakkar we knew, thinking they would recognise one of them, but no..... blank faces all around. No one seemed to understand, eventually after a few more repetitions one man said ahhhh... Rakkar!! He seemed just to repeat what we had said about 10 times, maybe rolling a couple more r’s. Anyway, hours of amusement for those on the bus and we did finally get home - rather wet due to a hole in the bus roof and travelling the last 12km by taxi as the bus broke down!
In the village when they asked where are we staying in Rakkar we replied “Mohinder house” that seemed like clear English to them and no further questions are asked. To you and me that means we were living in a top floor flat of a house owned by Mohinder a local Brahmin who helped run the project, on his family’s plot of land on
Luxurious by local standards
the outskirts of Rakkar village. Each day we had a lovely walk across a stream, past some friendly cows and a cute calf, with a bit of bird watching on the way (Redstarts, Bul Bul’s and Minor Birds) and then through the village to the community centre all with the backdrop of the Himalayas.
As you can see from the photo’s, Geoff used to commune with his inner cow on a daily basis and give one of the more charismatic ones some grass, whilst trying to make cow faces at it.... a pretty stress-free commute all in all!
Mohinder was in the process of taking down his Grandfather’s house, which was about 150 years old, his childhood home and had survived some seriously major earthquakes, including the deadliest in modern Indian historty that forced the British out of McCleod in 1905. He was replacing it with a circular ‘meditation’ room with water flowing through it, built with traditional methods - you can see the foundations taking shape in the photos.
Cooking for ourselves was fantastic - it is the one thing that we really miss when travelling, the freedom to cook what you want, when you want.
Being able to cook plain food was also a delight and it has to be said we boosted the local sales of porridge quite significantly, but it was the one thing that kept us going on those freezing mornings!
The last few shots here are us enjoying a meal at 'Happy's' house. Happy was the nickname of this teenage kid who was always smiling and befriended us whilst we were in Rakkar. He had great English and was always practising it on us, by teaching us about local life. The meal was part of the celebrations for Lori the Hindu festival marking the onset of Spring. His Dad died a few years ago and he is the 'man of the house', living with his two sisters, Mum and Grandmother. Many of the local houses are still traditional mud constructions, which although beautiful, they generally have no windows or loose fitting shutters, so are FREEZING! Dinner consisted of Lexa and I eating whilst everyone else watched... no pressure then!
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