a curious drama

We witnessed a curious drama when the Nepalese came to gather honey. The Tibetan government has officially forbidden Tibetans to take honey, because their religion does not allow them to deprive animals of their food. However, here, as in most other places, people like to circumvent the law, and so the Tibetans, including the bönpos, allow the Nepalese to have the honey they collect, and then buy it back from them.
This honey taking is a very risky adventure as the bees hide the honeycomb under the projecting rocks of deep ravines. Long bamboo ladders are dropped, down which men climb sometimes two or three hundred feet, swinging free in the air. Below them flows the Kosi and if the rope which holds the ladder breaks it means certain death for them. They use smoke balls to keep the angry bees away as the men collect the honeycomb, which is hoisted up in containers by a second rope. A condition of the success of this operation is perfect and well-rehearsed combination, as the sound of shouts or whistles is lost in the roar of the river below. On this occasion eleven men worked for a week in the ravine, and the price at which they sold the honey had no relation to the risks they ran. I much regretted that I had no ciné-camera with which to take a picture of this dramatic scene.
[Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet (1953)]

a curious drama

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