We were faced with a large meadow split by little rivers, almost reminiscent of the English countryside, and several locals, all of whom responded to our greetings with the kindest of smiles. We busied ourselves with setting up camp and preparing dinner before night fell and it was time for our daily group review. As darkness set in, however, we were drawn by the melodious voices of the friendly locals who had approached our camp. Sitting themselves upon the grass, with one man beating a rhythm on a handheld wooden drum, they began to sing.
Curiosity piqued, we abandoned the review and drifted over to watch in awe as the women and children rose to their feet and began to dance within the circle formed by ourselves and the rest of the villagers. The women were dressed traditionally in saris or kurtas (tunics) over shalwar (loose trousers) and all were brightly coloured. The children, on the other hand, were dressed in t-shirts and shorts that wouldn’t have been out of place in the UK. It was clear, though, that they were all equally at home on the dance floor!
They moved gracefully, swinging their hips and twirling their wrists in time with the music. They beckoned, encouraging us to join them, and before long we were caught up in the dance, some more successful than others at mimicking their graceful movements. A few venturers added in some dance moves of their own, while others clapped and sang from the sidelines or chatted with the villagers. Under the starry sky, Nepalese and International, trekkers and locals, all shared an experience that bonded us despite language barriers and cultural differences. When the dancing finally ended, after a further hour of music and laughter, the villagers finished the night by giving us the cultural blessing of tikka.
Physically exhausted from the wild dancing and hours of trekking, we went to bed with smiling faces and happy hearts. The kindness and warmth shown to us by the locals was truly humbling and reminded us of our reasons for joining the expedition-to promote cross-cultural relations and give something back to these generous people. Despite the extra footwork, the evening definitely lightened our step and gave us something to think about over the next 12 days of trek!