The right way, the wrong way and the way that I do it.
I hiked up the hill to the market that sits on top of it. Holy hell, I’m definitely not used to hiking. That point was made blaringly clear when I was passed by one of the locals running down the hill to go to work. I couldn’t believe it! This man lives 45 minutes up the side of this mountain. I quickly thought: “Here’s the real Iron Man”. He sledgehammers rocks all day long to make them into stone bricks. After a full day of such work, he climbs up the mountain for about an hour to go back home. Truly remarkable.
The market itself is colorful, friendly, dirty, curious, attractive and smelly. Apart from three or four shops, the rest of the merchants do their businesses on the ground, sitting on the same mat where they present their products. You can find carpets, dresses, vegetables, fruits, ropes, animals, buckets and so on. After the market, I visited a nearby school where I had an interesting conversation with a local about the villages
of that mountain. We discussed the structure of the different districts and how the different communities are developing. Too much information.
On the way back down, just outside the market, I saw a curious scene and stopped to take a closer look. There was a young bull lying on a side on the ground, its legs were tied up with a strong rope and five men were helping to block its movements. A sixth man was crouching down by the back legs of the animal, holding a strange tool in his right hand, something like big pliers. I stepped in to see what was happening: on the man’s left hand were the bull’s balls. OH MY FUCK! Nah man! You can’t do that! You just can’t. I repeatedly tried to stop them from proceeding, but I just couldn’t do anything.
Later, they explained to me that this operation is quite common around here: they choose which animals are for field-work and which ones are for reproduction. In the process of castration, they only cut a vein: the testicles stay where they are. This thought gave me some sort of relief, but still, imagine that five men come around, they tie you up, and they go for your nuts! Now, you tell me, how fun is that?
The rules of this place are something that I just can’t understand. Or maybe I can but I can't accept them as “normal”. Particularly, I’m referring to the condition of different people in this society. Their surnames are in fact the names of the different casts - some kind of level inside the community.
Marriages are still planned by the parents. Ha ha ha! WTF is that? I can easily picture it in my mind: the whole happy family having dinner by the fire, some hunting eyes pointing in the daughter’s direction. In the middle of a conversation about chickens and potatoes, after she has had one more Dhal Bath in her life, the father breaks the chilling silence with something like “Hey darling, by the way, tomorrow you’re getting married.” Whaaat? I bet the rice starts spilling out of her ears. “Oh yeah, and don’t forget to smile when you first see him!”
Another thing that is extremely different from the western society, and still concerning women, is about the menstrual period. Apparently, the woman is “dirty” during these days, hence she’s not allowed to sleep inside the house. Instead, she would go to spend the night outside; usually in the cow shed. Personally, I think that a woman is even more woman during her period, but different minds have different thoughts.
I’ve also found out what that sort of bed of leaves I saw last week inside one of the local houses is: it's the place where they keep the goats during the night. Yes, Sir! Inside the house, just few feet away from the bed. Reason to that is to protect the goats from being eaten by the wolves. That makes sense.
And now I’m going to write a couple of extremely stupid things:
The first one, I drank milk. Common enough, alright, but let me say how I got to that milk. I was hiking around with another volunteer when a kid saw us through the fields and invited us to his home. By the time we walked down a couple of terraces, he was standing outside waiting for us. We greeted his mother, who was taking care of the garden, and stepped into his home. And there he stands; this little kid in a ten square meter room which is his home, his bedroom/kitchen/store/goat shed, holding two metal cups filled with buffalo milk. His buffalo. His milk. Milk that had been taken from his buffalo that same morning. No preservatives, no fridge, no long conservation bullshit. I’m talking about real fucking milk! Last time I drank it? Probably out of my mum’s tits.
Second: I saw the waves on the fields. Wind waves. You know when there were all those fields on that mountain with all the terraces? You can see some rustic houses here and there. And then there is the grain, yellowish in colour, almost ready for the crop, and the wind starts blowing, making the fields look like an ocean. The last time I saw something like that I was just a boy.
Anyway, two weeks are gone and tomorrow it’ll be bus-time again. Brownies in my pants!
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