Jul 7, 2012

Nepali Porters

Do you think your job is hard ? You probably don't know about the Nepali porters. Their job is one of the hardest ones known to me.

Porters carry huge load across mountains of Nepal

Nepalis are hardworking. This fact cannot be stressed enough. Porters are the hallmark of hardworking Nepali men. They carry heavy loads across mountains for living. A very exhausting and risky job. Working environment varies from muddy slippery trails in hot and humid valleys to rough rocky mountain terrain in high altitude where both oxygen and temperature is low. Working gear consists of simple clothes, chappal for footwear, bamboo stick for support and Doko-Namlo.

Traditional Doko-Namlo is bamboo basket and leather thong belt

The Doko-Namlo is a simple device for simple people to carry enormous weight on their backs. Doko is the basket or container that holds the object to be carried. Namlo is a belt tied around doko and the person's forehead. One has to lean forward at the correct angle to maintain balance. But once you get the balance right, you can go on for long time carrying very heavy loads. The traditional doko is a big bamboo basket, but containers of varying shape and material are also found these days. The traditional namlo is a leather belt, but other materials are also in use these days.
I could hardly lift it

The first time I tried to carry the Doko-Namlo (without any load), I could hardly lift the doko from its resting position. The muscles on your chest, upper and lower abdomen, thighs, calfs, feet has to be strong. The best way to understand someone's situation is to get into their shoes, or in their Doko-Namlo in this case. Then you grow profound respect for them. What I could hardly lift, the porters would not only carry on their back but would also fill with other stuffs and carry to far away place. But these are no protein shake gym rats with bulging muscles all over their body. I'm talking about skinny Nepalis powered by only dal-bhat. Occasional raxi adds some more calorie to the diet. But that's mostly it. Do you still think your job is hard ?