Previous volunteers in Sundrawoti left behind a few articles about the Thami ethnic group, and reading them helped give me a better understanding of their culture. I thought some of what I learned was interesting enough to share, so this, along with a couple of upcoming posts will parcel out that information in digestible bits (and don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz at the end).
This post deals primarily with basic Thami identity, and is compose mostly of quotes drawn from Mark Turin’s Thangmi, Thami, Thani? Remembering a Forgotten People. ‘Remembering’ is a curious choice of words, since it makes it sound like the Thami are no longer with us, when in fact, the Thamis are a wonderful, living, and friendly people.
Turns out that previous sentence is, to the people it describes, insulting. Enter Mark Turin:
We saw about 20 faces in our time working with the Bimeshwor Youth Group – unlike in Mehele, it’s harder to break them down into regulars and irregulars:
Just for you, Michelle Kaplan
Tonight is my last in Tevel B’Tzedek’s ‘Big House’ before I head home (though there is still a small backlog of posts, so please feel free to pretend I’m still in Nepal for another week or so). The Big House is in the Swayambhu neighborhood of the Kathmandu, which means our neighbors are mostly Buddhists and monkeys.
About a 5-minute walk from our house, and the first ‘tourist destination’ I visited when I first arrived in Nepal four months and one week ago, is Tin Buddha (literally ‘Three Buddhas’, but known in English as ‘Buddhapark’). To explain the name:
There is a sign posted by the entrance to the park that I would like to share with you (Photo evidence after the jump, if that’s what you’re into.):
This is to notify that the committee has been taking donation from the users to maintain clean and healthy environment around the area of this park. So, the users are kindly requested to help and make a generous donation on the following descriptions mentioned herein below particulars for using this park:
So far, so good. But we’re not done:
1. For whole day worship inside the park, NRS. 4,000 /-
2. Film shooting (feature film), NRS. 2500 /-
3. Film shooting (Tele-Film), NRS. 1500 /-
4. Music video Shooting, NRS. 1000 /-
The sign doesn’t mention any discount for whole day worshipers disturbed by Tele-Film crews.
Having seen the movie, and having just read the book, I imagine this ‘Adventure Travel’ company is a bit more Adventurous than what I’m looking for:
One day, I was wandering aimlessly on the road above Kalika Iskul when I noticed a woman I recognized from the area of the passals. I asked where she was going, she told me Maitighar, and invited me to come along. I asked how long it would take. An hour, she told me. I had a few, and I’d never been to Maitighar, so I agreed to tag along.
Twenty minutes later, I found myself in Maitighar. The houses in the area were much nicer than the ones I recognized from the Thami village in which I lived; I quickly realized that I was in an area populated by Brahmins. I stayed at the woman’s house while we waited out a rainstorm, hung out a bit with the headmaster of Jagaran Iskul in a nearby house, and finally headed for home.
That evening, Upama asked where I had gone. Maitighar, I told her, proud of my memory. A place called Maitighar? she asked. Yes, I assured her, confident I was getting the name right. She started laughing: Turns out, Maitighar is the Nepali word for the house in which a woman grows up. Yes, I had been to the woman’s Maitighar. But really, I had been in Sundrawoti, Ward 5, which is somewhat less exciting than a place that has a name.
Had I not learned the word Maitighar at that time, I might have been a bit confused when Rajkumari picked a song about a collection of a few houses near Sundrawoti as the second one her girls performed as part of their ECA: