The whistling old couple of Markha Valley

Tales from my solo travel to Markha Valley, Ladakh

My homestay owners, an old couple in their seventies, winnowing the fresh crop of barley
My homestay owners, an old couple in their seventies, winnowing the fresh crop of barley

Three villages had passed and I had been hearing a distinctly recognizable whistling sound coming from far. I was curious but not so much that I would go after the sound.

I was staying in Markha village that day and suddenly around afternoon, I heard the same sound again. Just like a bollywood movie sequence, I played the protagonist and went in search of it. I reached this site.

Speechless. Absolutely astonishing. The grandparents in the family were winnowing the fresh crop of barley with a rhythm of beautiful whistle accompanying it. My curiosity was at the top most level.

“Julley ji! I’ve been hearing the same whistling sound for the last three days. Is it some Ladakhi song? Why do you whistle?”

“It is a tradition here. The whistle induces a wind-flow in the region that helps us in winnowing”. Tradition and beliefs.

Back in the places where machines could reach, none of this would happen. These machines would take just about 4 hours to accomplish the same task that people in these difficult to reach regions complete manually in a lot more time.

“How long will you take to work on all of this crop?”

“We’d sing, we’d dance and before we know in about 20 days, it’d all be done.” The old man, about 70 years of age, smiled and continued his work.

This photo features in the October month of the wall calendar. Needless to say, it comes in huge poster size that can be torn off through the perforated line below and above the picture. Order it here.

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