“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, and all is metamorphosis” – Henry Miller
Rakkar Road is the road that runs through the small village that plays home to my placement organization, Jagori Grameen. Tucked between the mountains and a river and about a 30 minute bus ride from Dharamshala, Rakkar is historically a nomadic herder community. For hundreds of years, herders have taken their sheep to the high mountain passes for grazing and to escape the heat of summer. Trails carved across fields and up steep mountains criss-cross the area. Goats and sheep forage along the road. A river rushes below, and like so many places, it is a community in flux.
The traditional gaddi wedding songs are less common, replaced by the popular punjabi DJs who blast music from around the world; the sheep herds have dropped from thousands to in some cases just 50; the road is just recently in the process of being widened in anticipation to the newest neighbors constructing a large house and hotel.
Local youth, like so many worldwide, seek to leave the traditional professions of their families for the perceived opportunities that exist in India’s cities. Outsiders, both foreigners and Indians, enchanted by the beauty of the mountains, come to build mountain escapes. Infrastructure has improved while farm land has disappeared.
The result is a beautiful mix of people from around the world and India but also a community that is changing quickly. Such change raise the questions, how does our presence impact this community? Is this change what we seek for? How do we preserve culture while improving infrastructure? As budding development practitioners we spend much time asking how our work and lives can be impactful. For me, this translates to how my presence impacts this community both positively, negatively, and possibly not at all.
What is undeniable to me however, is the enduring magic of the tall mountain peaks that beckon all that visit to peer upwards, contemplative and humbled. And of course, how wonderful my co-workers are, thank you all for the wedding invitations, share lunches, laughter, and warm warm smiles. You have a magic all your own.