The Grass Seeker – A Himalaya Shepherd

Author: Uddalak Gupta, Photographer: Ruhani Kaur

Sample Text from The Grass Seeker

Every year, when the snow starts to melt, 67-year-old Gaddi shepherd Room Singh packs a few of his essentials. Food to last him for three to four months, 40kgs of salt for his animals, pots and pans, a worn-out radio, medicines, a torch and solar lantern, and an old rifle to scare bears away.

Rounding up his flock of about 300 goats and sheep, he bids farewell to his wife Hitmani Devi, his family, and his village Shiah in the Garsa valley of Himachal Pradesh—and sets off.

Grass. Juicy blades of grass high up on the hill slopes, fed by meltwater streams and clean mountain air that his flock loves to graze on. That is what Room Singh goes looking for, when summer reaches the valley.

For hundreds of years, nomadic Gaddis have responded to the changing seasons, heading up in summer and turning back from the high grasslands before the freezing winter. For the last 40 years, Room Singh has followed in their footsteps, wrapped in his woollen chola (knee-length coat) and tapping his trusty stick.


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