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Pashmina

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On a cold winter morning, with temperatures close to 10°c a lone goatherd, wrapped in a thick woolen shawl, makes his way up a lonely hill track, towards an enclosed compound, surrounded by rude timber fences that vividly display the strokes of a woodcutter’s axe. There held captive await an unimpressive herd of goats covered with long, thick, shaggy manes, un-kept and unpleasing to the naked eye.
The mangled coats protect the ruminant, hollow horned mammals, from the strong blustering winds that occasionally sweep across the Himalayas and as the goatherd makes his way up the rickety gravel filled track, flakes of pristine snow fall gently to the ground. The goats clamber about unperturbed, nibbling at the remaining bits of grass in what is no doubt a well-grazed area, biting off as much as they can chew before their keeper arrives and ushers them to safety.
Intelligent but stubborn, they playfully gallop away as the goatherd reaches for the derelict gate, that looks twice as old as he…

Pink Frangipani

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The Aquaculture Sector in Bhutan

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The aquaculture sector in Bhutan is similar to that in many other parts of the subcontinent and mainly revolves around carps and other native sentient species and that may be because many cold water species have difficulty surviving in warmer waters and because the local palate is more attuned to carps and other warm water species.
Trout (brown trout) was introduced into Bhutan in the 1930s and like in Kashmir the fish is popular with recreational anglers and despite the lack of domestic demand, the fish has done fairly well for itself in Bhutan, and that is partly because of the glacier fed waters that flow from the Himalayan mountain range. A majority of rivers in Bhutan flow from the Himalayas through the narrow defiles at the foot of the mountains, resurfacing in Duar and eventually filtering through to the Brahmaputra River.
These rivers are characteristic of mountain streams i.e. filled with clear, crisp, rapid flowing waters or waters that are ideal for trout rearing. The longe…

The Shaman's Near Death Experience

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When we look at many of the ancient shamanic cultures of yesteryear, be it the Altai Shaman, the Siberian Shaman, the Tungus Shaman, the Tamang Shaman or the Yakut Shaman, there is one prerequisite that the prospective shaman or the shaman to be must satisfy in order to gain his or her shamanic abilities and that is to undergo the near-death experience. The near-death experience from all accounts can be the result of a natural illness or a result of an induced illness that reduces the prospective shaman to the near-death state.
Before we go further it would be appropriate to define or give a definition to the word shaman though they sometimes act as healers or medicine men or women, shamans are not always necessarily healers.
Shamans in short are those among us who have the ability to see and communicate with spirits and it is with the help of these spirits that shamans are able to concoct remedies and foretell the future or remove hexes and maledictions.
Therefore, anyone who is able to…

Trout Farming in Kashmir

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In the early hours of the morning, just after sunrise, hundreds of anglers make their way to the banks of Kashmir’s numerous rivers, fed by the melting glaciers of the Himalayas, baiting their hooks, waiting to cast their rods into the fluid mountain streams.
The water is normally exceptionally clear unless it had rained the night before and the rivers, with their deceptive currents, are swollen with rainwater that washes away rocks and sediments from the fertile green banks.
The prized catch of the day - trout (brown trout), a species of freshwater fish that rarely survives in warm Asiatic conditions but thrives in Kashmir’s twenty three major rivers. It is a testament to the state’s resolute, ecologically friendly, environment.
Be it for sport or a means to an alternate income the cold water breed of fish is highly sought after. A cooked serving of rainbow trout (the most common freshwater trout) contains approximately 981 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids namely eicosapentaenoic acid…

Vampire Myths (Eastern) - Raja Bersiong

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Vampire myths are common both in the East and the West and while the normal perception is that the vampire originated from Transylvania there are many other myths around the world that incorporate the vampire element.
For long periods in its contemporary history Kedah was under Siamese rule and on one particular occasion it came under the influence of a particularly intimidating monarch. At birth he was given the name Raja Ong Maha Perita Daria but he was more commonly known as Raja Bersiong. According to legend, despite the vice like grip he had on his kingdom, Raja Bersiong lived in constant fear and the threat of being assassinated perpetually loomed over him like a dark cloud.
He was so afraid that even when he went to sleep, he had guards posted around his bed. He devised outlandish methods to counter any threats on his life including leaving all culinary matters in the hands of two cooks. Only they prepared his food and no one else touched any of the ingredients that went into his…

The Tamang Shaman

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The old weathered shaman sits idly on a block of land that he calls his own, handed down to him no doubt by his predecessors who had either purchased the land or were granted the title to it, for services rendered during colonial times. He stares out in the open, seated on a rickety stool on the verandah of a hut surrounded by the banana trees that he grows for a living. The sun is high and its luminous rays beat relentlessly down on the rugged graveled land below.
The sounds of distant drumming echo over the horizon and he hums a little tune. In the valley below a group of young men are beating on a set of tin pan drums. He sings of a young man, on the verge of death, whose soul leaves his body and drifts towards the clouds and there he meets a young maiden and he is instantly taken in by her. His soul returns to his body and the maiden follows him back.
The clock strikes twelve and it will soon be time for lunch. He gets off the stool and makes his way to the rear of the hut where he …