After making it up to the region of Mustang and fortunately receiving only small bouts of rain compared to the tragedy of Thorong Pass, we arrived in Tukche just in time for a hearty lunch of daalbhaat. We were assigned homestay partners, briefed on our village study project assignments and headed off to live with a Thakali family for one week.
Life in Tukche was an incredibly valuable and unique experience. A small town of around 600 people, most families run guest houses and do work on their farms. The region of Mustang is famous for its apples, and I definitely had the chance to test them out and come to the conclusion that they are the most delicious fruits I have ever tasted.
The house I stayed in consisted of four generations. Our grandmother (78) and grandfather (88) lived their along with their son and his wife (who were visiting relatives in Kathmandu, so I did not get to meet them unfortunately), as well as their son and his wife and the couple’s four year old daughter, Norjin. Norjin only lived in Tukche while she was not in Jomsom at boarding school, which was only for two days while I was visiting (the weekend, or more like one-day break as Nepali students have classes Sunday-Friday).
Besides having language classes every morning while we were there, the rest of the day was ours to spend completing research and exploring the village. I went to many different family’s farms, some of which were a hike up to a flat spot in the mountain. I can confidently say I’ve never been to a more beautiful place.
The night before we left was the beginning of an annual Buddhist festival which entails a ritualistic lama dance. After eating our daalbhaat, my roommate and I headed over to the monastary with our hajurbaa (grandfather). Upon arrival, hajurbaa took his place amongst other town members and left Indira and I to fend for ourselves. We were quickly welcomed into the monastary by all the village aamaas who were seated on the left side of the central walkway. Although it’s still pretty unclear what exactly the ceremony was about, it was incredibly beautiful to watch and take part in. After watching the ceremony inside of the monastary, all the villagers quickly went out into the center were the lamas preformed a ritual dance. We sat in awe as they circled the pillar of prayer flags. Suddenly it was time to go – everyone lept up and followed the lamas to an intersection near my own homestay (and a lot of other peoples – the village was quite small). The ceremony continued on the road, illuminated by a fire and lights the lamas had brought.
The lama dance was the perfect way to end my stay in Tukche. The next morning we all said goodbye to our village families and prepared to move on with our trekk back to Pokhara.