Baqir Mehdi, a talented photographer, graduated from NCA in Film and TV, with a distinction for his thesis documentary 'Me, Chabbar and Abbu Chachu'. He documents his travel through the mountains of the Valley of Misgar, telling us about the conversations of men amongst the mountains and the hospitality of the natives.
“Im more of a documentary photographer and I like photographing people. IÂ constantly try to find a balance between living in the moment and capturing it at the same time. I think Iâ€™m getting better at it. It’s like a conversation – to knowÂ what to say at the right time, to know when to photograph at the right time.” – Baqir Mehdi
He travelled to Misgar Valley for an art residency…
“I was asked to join Tasweergharâ€™s team of photographers for an art residency inÂ the remote valley of Misgar. â€œThe Willow Tree Art Residencyâ€ – thatâ€™s what it was called and I liked the sound of it. I was part of a team of 4 photographers fromÂ Tasweerghar along with three musicians, twoÂ sculptors and a videographer. At first I wasn’t so sure about travelling to Misgar because there wasn’t much about it online. But I’m glad I went. The more I interacted with the people of Misgar, who spoke very little Urdu, I realised that humans are all the same, much more alike than different.”
The ride was long and hefty..
“The trip to Gilgit took us 18 hours and we had to spend a night there. The nextÂ morning we left for Hunza, which took us 3 hours because we kept stopping onÂ the way. Hunza was beautiful just as I had imagined it to be. We mainly roamed around the markets,Â stopping every now and then to take pictures.”
“During my stay at Misgar, I was experiencing a lot of things and felt like i needed to talk to someone; sometimes talking about what you feel makes you visualize those feelings in a completely different way. Luckily, I had Anum to talk to and she has the ability to see things very differently, for example i was talking about how cold it was there and she asked me if i had a cold nose! Haha.”
“The next morning we left for Misgar, which also took us about 3 hours. The roads and the majestic mountains leave you with mixed feelings. The higher up the Valley you travel, the bigger and more awe-inspiring the mountains begin to look – and with it, the smaller your own existence begins to feel. The mountain peaks resemble nothing short of a scrumptious vanilla icecream with layers of chocoloate ganache. At one point I lost all sense of proportion: IÂ would look at a mountain and think â€œhmmm that doesnâ€™t look too bigâ€ and then IÂ would see something like a bridge or people next to it and they would all Â look soÂ tiny.”
The Valley is a long green patch among mountains..
“The first thing I noticed whn I reached misgar was that it was a little harder toÂ breathe because of the high altitude.”
The valley is a long green patch betweenÂ mountains,. The mountains surround the Valley to the extent that no matter where you stand in Misgar, a mountain is always in sight.The houses there were made of stones and wood and there would be streams ofÂ water running throughout the valley; crystal clear, cold water.”
The people of Misgar are extremely hospitable..
“The people of Misgar are the most hospitable people I have ever seen; soÂ hospitable that I would at times feel embarrassed and wouldnâ€™t know how to sayÂ no to a cup of tea. Everywhere we went, every person we met would ask us toÂ visit his or her home. The one thing that I found extremely interesting was the way the women greeted men. They would shake hands and lightly kiss the back of the man’s hands- a greeting full of such love and admiration which is a true reflection of the dwellers of the Valley.”