September 20, 2010

Tashi Delek (traditional Tibetan greeting),

I am beginning another adventure to the other side of the world. If you are new to these emails…welcome. If you are an old hand…welcome back. If you are on this list by mistake, please let me know and I will remove your email address. I always love to hear what is happening on this side of the world…so please reply whenever you are moved to do so…but forgive me for not replying back individually. Internet access is always iffy, so don’t be offended at my lack of response. I had a great suggestion from Mary to create a sort of a key that would help track all of the different people who I interact with regularly while I’m in Nepal. So here it is:

My main reason for returning to Nepal after my first trip was to film three old Tibetan shamans. They live in Tashi Palkheil…one of four Tibetan refugee camps in the Pokhara area. I continue to visit each of these families on a weekly basis. Pau is the honorific term indicating Tibetan shaman:

Pau Wangchuk (deceased), wife:  Tsering Dolma, Son:  Trinley, Trinley’s wife:  Asa, Trinley’s son:  Karma Tashi

Pau Rhichoe, Wife: Tserap, Son: Singe

Pau Nyima, Wife:  Tashi, Brother, Tsedup, Daughters:  Tenzin and Dolkar       

When I travel to the camp, I am accompanied by Migmar, who acts as my translator. She runs a souvenir shop Lakeside (tourist area of Pokhara) with her son Chime. Her husband Yeshi and two daughters (Dolma and Sonam) have emigrated to Canada. When I first started traveling to Nepal, I rented a room above their souvenir shop Lakeside.

There are three households of Tibetan elders who Indigenous Lenses supports with monthly stipends that cover food and rent. I try to visit with them to assess needs every couple of weeks. They are:

Tsamchoe Palmo and Dechen Choedon: two elderly women who used to share the same husband.

Tashi Dhondup, Jamyang Dolma and Dawa Dhondup: a sister and two brothers who share a household.

Pasang Kyabyang and Khando Bomkyi: husband and wife.

Tsering Dolma: Wangchuk’s wife. With his passing, we transferred her to the food and shelter group.

We provide cultural support of crafts for two Tibetan women.

Norzin: weaves Tibetan incense bags using a back strap loom. She sits on the ground and leans back to create tension. She lives in the Tashi Palkheil camp

Lobsang: makes Tibetan prayer beads (mallas). She lives in the Tashiling Tibetan refugee camp. Her husband is Phunsok. I visit her once a week, sit with her in her souvenir shack and go to her home for lunch.

I have been using the same taxi driver for all of these years:

Laxman

Wife: Sangita

Son: Anil

Son: Amrit

Daughter: Sunita

Daughter: Anita

I now live with Bel Thapa’s family. He is of the ethnic group known as the Magars. He is also a shaman. He lives with a large extended family, cows, goats, water buffaloes, pigs and chickens. Most people are referred to by their kinship term…so I still don’t know some of the folks names. The kinship terms apply to people related by blood, ethnic group, village or friendship. I am either called Didi (older sister) or Phupu (father’s older sister)

Bel Thapa

Wife: Bishnu

Oldest Daughter: Durga

Durga’s husband: Tika

Durga’s daughter: Simran

Second Daughter: Babita

Babita’s husband: Dhan Bahadur

Babita’s new baby: Izane

Third daughter: Sangeeta (my main translator)

Fourth Daughter: Anita

Son: Anil (when 4 years old given wrong medication that caused brain damage)

Next door:

Hazur Aama (grandmother…Bishnu’s mother)

Oldest son: Krishna: (working in Saudi Arabia. His wife and two daughters live with his mother)

Oldest daughter: Bishnu (Bel’s wife)

Second son: Prem (lives with wife, daughter and son)

Third son: Kamal (lives with wife and two daughters)

Second daughter: Tara (lives close by with two sons…husband away in Indian army)

Third daughter: Jyoti (lives close by with husband and two daughters)

Fourth daughter: Sapana (unmarried and attending school)

Bel’s cousin Somendra is also a Magar shaman and he spends a lot of time with Bel and I. He has a wife (Sangita), a daughter (Anju) and two sons. Their home is down a steep hill by the river.

Bel has a teacher (Guru) who has mentored him in his shamanic practice. I only know his as ‘Guru’. He lives with his wife (Guru’s wife) and daughter (Jyoti).

And so the adventure begins. I have traveled from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and tonight I’ll begin the long plane ride to Kathmandu via Bangkok. That is an 18 hour plane ride. I’ll have a five hour layover in Bangkok then catch the plane to Kathmandu….another four hour flight. I think I’ll hit the foot massage place then Starbucks for one last Café Mocha while in the Bangkok airport. I cross the International Dateline and lose a day…and move forward 12 hours. Sound like fun?

Again, if you would rather not receive these emails, please let me know and I’ll remove you from the list. I’m also hoping to post these on our web site: www.indigenouslenses.org

Love,

Sarah

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