After cooking and eating the delicious dhedo, I headed down onto the valley floor to join a group of ladies from the village who were working together to harvest a series of rice fields belonging to the local families.
#1 An seemingly endless sea of gold broken only by the local brick factory chimney in the background;
#2 On the right hand side; before. On the left hand side; after. Simple. Right?
#3 The ladies has already been working for several hours by the time I joined them and continued long after I flaked out – Nepali women are simply utterly, awe-inducingly hard-working and strong. Words just do not come close. Rural agriculture in Nepal is an extremely labour intensive process. Working as a well coordinated team the village ladies effectively sweep through field upon field of rice paddy by hand, preparing it for the next stage of the process;
#4 Then they gave me a knife and, after some basic tuition, let me loose;
#5 Well, for sure I did not contribute much in terms of coverage but for comedy value and therefore lifting morale I was extremely effective!? As I hacked pitifully and repeatedly at a couple of rice shoots at a time, my fellow team mates cut through great armfuls in a single sweep. Though practice makes perfect I’m sure…;
#6 Before long, with the heat of the sun bearing down, and after answering all the questions about my age, marital status and why we didn’t grow rice in the UK, I was exhausted. Only able to watch the next stage for a short while before heading off to find some much needed shade. Here the team place the freshly cut rice shoots through a pedal-powered grinder to separate the grains from the stems;
#7 And here’s some we prepared earlier… Back on Sukuji’s roof I spent a further few hours helping her with the next phase; each pile of rice grains needs to be carefully cleaned and dried. Here Sukuji is slowly sifting each flat basket full in front of a fan which blows away any unwanted empty shells, grasses or insects leaving just the grain;
#8 The final product out to dry in the sun. This was all just one small section of the labour involved in planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and cooking the local food. Suddenly my daal bhaat tastes even better, now I have an inkling of the effort involved in getting the ingredients onto my plate;