This is the traditional way of making an authentic Nepali KUKRI knife – a historical weapon of the Ghurka soldiers.
It is the second day we spent in the man’s tiny workshop, full of metal bits of different shape, sizes and purposes. For two days now, the grey-haired blacksmith is making a kukri knife for us — the famed boomerang-like blade used by fierce and courageous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers.
He makes it from a small piece of the leaf spring taken from the truck suspension — the most durable and yet the most flexible piece of metal. For two days now, the blacksmith puts it into the fiery throat of a small oven, dug directly in the workshop floor. Once the piece is so hot it turns white, the man starts patiently hammering it into the desired shape. His massive arm restlessly going up and down in powerful thrusts.
We sit on a bed squeezed into the far side of the workshop and look at the blacksmith’s work fascinated. In front of us, the small dirty-greyish metal stub evolves into a beautiful blade, like a clumsy caterpillar into a magnificent butterfly. It seems like the knife was there for the whole time. Hidden. Waiting for the blacksmith’s touch to set it free.
Just a few hours ago, under our feet, we had velvet sand of Cold Skardu Desert. Soft slopes of dunes, gently caressed by wind carving their surfaces into intricate waves. The sand sea that reached feet of magnificent mountains.
Now we enter the Astore Valley. Lush green mountain slopes and a silver-grey gem of a river. At the altitude of 2600 meters, we follow its wild current and climb up another 2000 metres. Straight to Deosai Plains – we drive to The Roof of the World. Its beauty is breath-taking. Up to the horizon, there are carpets of wildflower and emeralds of lakes. Fat, golden marmots sunbathe on the warm rocks scattered around.
It is quiet and blissful. It is paradise. It is driving on The Roof of The World in Skardu, Northern Pakistan.
We could not believe it. It was impossible to accept that the view before our eyes is real. It looked like a photoshopped picture on a fragile paper – a fantastic landscape that could disappear if we drove to close.
And yet, all of this was real. The rusty rocky cones touching the sky with the triangles of the peaks. Passu Cathedral. Passu Cones. Clustered together like a city of magnificent pyramids. Perfectly imperfect with their rugged slopes and sharp ridges. 6000-meters creation of nature’s wild imagination. Better than any cathedral, better than pyramids, better than any human’s creation.
The magnificent gates to the Land of Giants.
When a thick pillow of snow covers Bayan Ulgii in Mongolia, the sky fills with soaring golden eagles. They hunt for foxes clearly visible against the white canvas of snow. They hunt it for their masters – the Mongolian eagle hunters.
This is a story of Sailay – a Mongolian eagle hunter. This is a story of a special bond between a man and his eagle.
Tengerism is an ancient philosophy of life Mongolians still live by. They believe in coexistence of two worlds – human and spirit one. Between them stands a man – translator of spirits’ will, a medium of human prayers – the Shaman. This is his story.
The Mongolian proverb says: “Keep your hardness on the outside and your love within”. The wisdom of the saying was proved different. From the very beginning, the only thing that was shown to us was love and warmth. Linguistic and cultural barriers crumbled into pieces in the face of utter selflessness, generosity and kindness which total strangers offered us.
However, another Mongolian saying proved to be true: “Posts support a ger, friends support a man in difficulties”. It is a quintessence of the entire Mongolian nomadic culture. In the hour of need, you do not have to knock on the ger’s doors – they are always wide open. Be it to a herdsman, who needs some milk or cheese, or a random tourist who showed up at the door by a total accident.
A story of one Hindu devotee, Kumar, who takes us for the procession of Thaipusam – the celebration of thanksgiving, asceticism and submitting an ultimate sacrifice.
Rakkhitakanda – Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka, celebrating Vesak Day – Buddha’s Birthday