Politics, Parenting and The Godmother

Tuesday 25th September 2007
Hello again,
Still nothing about Jeetu, although his older sister came by (who knew he had one?) and told a rather terrifying story about their older brother, who lived in their village and upset a few Maoists a few years back, so the Maoists took him into their village square and very slowly removed his hands and feet with a machete. Obviously, he’s no longer with us, (he bled to death) but it gives everyone even more to worry about, as Jeetu’s brother clearly has enemies in the village, and they might know who he is.
Chirpy isn’t it?

Anyhoo, Aamaa took me on Saturday to see a holy woman they visit from time to time. It was really quite the experience!
They call her The Godmother, because she apparently channels the god Kali, and it was all very intense – there’s a massive shrine and a guru, who is basically her social secretary – he sits and takes down people’s names and ailments for the Godmother to see. Then she came in and sat down in a big throne-type thing.
One by one you go and sit cross-legged in front of her to be blessed and healed.
I got the full experience, which involved her pressing my head and temples and neck, squeezing me all over, slashing the air around my head with a small knife, bashing me with a small broom (I had to stand up and turn around so I could be fully “swept” all over – aural cleansing perhaps?) and then given ash-tikka and some seeds to eat, all washed down with holy water of course! You can then buy incense for her to bless, which most people did, via the guru, who was in charge of all the money! I took a few pictures, after asking permission, but my camera’s rubbish without the flash on, so they’re all a bit blurry.

The Godmother blessing Amaa

The Godmother’s assistant

The whole shebang went on for over four hours, and I got sooo bored and stiff! I just can’t sit cross-legged and stay still for that long!
However, at the end, some blokes in the back played some traditional music and there was lots of singing, and then she got up to dance.
Aamaa got very excited while The Godmother was dancing and kept whispering to me that now god is coming. She had rolled her eyes up, so you could only see the whites a bit, but otherwise looked rather bored I thought. She danced quite slowly, apparently channeling Kali, but then did the most bizarre thing!
She stuck her tongue out very slowly, and it was so big and fat she looked like a frog! Her tongue stayed fully stuck out for well over ten minutes and didn’t move at all – it looked like a weird growth instead of a tongue! However, apparently that’s how you could tell she was now in fact Kali, and when it was all done, the guru helped her back to the throne to carefully and slowly retract her massive tongue. Then of course came a rather obligatory and badly done moment when she “woke up” and looked all confused and surprised.
Anyway it was, interesting.
Since then I’ve almost figured out the water system now – if it’s hot and sunny enough during the day, and assuming no-one else has had a shower, then there’s likely to be hot water in the evening. I was all ready on Sunday, but had forgotten about our weekly power cuts (Sundays and Mondays from 6-8pm). Undaunted, as I really wanted to wash my hair, I managed to position some candles in places around the bathroom where they wouldn’t be immediately drenched, and was happily halfway through my candlelit shower, conditioning away, when the water pressure dropped.
I was so close too…
Had to rinse my hair in the cold water from a bucket, but nevermind – I’ll get there one day!
In other news, the Maoists threw all of their dolls out of the pram this week, and walked out of the government completely, like stroppy adolescents.
Apparently (according to Priya) they have realised that in the lead up to the election that they’re not actually going to win, and if they can’t get what they want then they’re jolly well not playing.
Their official line was that Nepal isn’t going to become a Republic, like they wanted, and that their 22-point plan hasn’t been taken seriously by the other parties.
I think they badly misjudged their popularity when they were admitted into the government last November, and seemed to think they’d get voted in.
Turns out, people don’t have short enough memories, and the last 10 years and 12,000 dead, not to mention countless more kidnapped, beaten, maimed and tortured, haven’t exactly been forgotten by most voters.
However, that being said, the violence has been reduced in the last year, and no-one wants a return to the terrorist tactics they were using before. So, the rest of the government has been attempting to cajole them back in again, in the political equivalent of a tired parent saying for the third time “Look, you’re twelve years old and you were never going to get a motorbike for Christmas. You can have a mountain bike like we talked about 6 months ago, so shut up and get back in the bloody car.”
I should also point out that I glean most of my information from the only English-print papers here, The Himalayan and The Kathmandu Post, which are both rampantly anti-Maoist, so obviously my information is heavily biased!
At the moment it seems unclear whether the Maoists are going to go back in or not, but if they don’t I’m not sure what happens next – they’ve fought 10 years for this opportunity (or so I thought) and if they don’t want it, then what exactly do they want? (Aside from a republic, to be in charge and a motorbike too!).
I do feel a tad under-informed on this one, so will simply have to sit back and watch what happens next.
hope you’re all well,
over to Kesar Lall, who says:
“Never carry food exposed to the eyes of other people, nor eat it in their presence. For they too may wish to taste the food and the person who eats it will not only get no nourishment, but could become ill.
Ginger is not used in the preparation of a pumpkin dish, for it is believed to cause leprosy.”
tons of love
“If only governments were run by sensible parents” Maya

Some lovely beauty school students come to the orphanage to practice cutting hair – and the kids get a free haircut!

The kids all lined up on the floor ready for bed!

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