Saturday, January 5, 2013

A good road leads to a wedding

I-MAN had heard that there was going to be a wedding amongst the land rights community and pleaded with the best driver in Nepal to take him.  The wedding was to be between the daughter of a land rights leader and a young man with a shining face, who knew that his and his wife’s future would be open to all kind of possibilities, if they could only dream.

Once I-MAN knew that he would be traveling in the magic truck where people appeared and disappeared, he became quite excited although he wasn’t at all sure which road would lead to the wedding.  As I-MAN, the best driver in Nepal and three other land righters, including one who wrote a lot of newspaper articles about this particular issue, got into the truck, he noticed that there was plenty of space for others.  Sure enough after a short distance, the father of one the main land righters, appeared on the side of the road and was shifted into the front seat.  I-MAN was curious as to whether this gentleman was going to the wedding, which seemed to make some sense, given that all of the land righters knew one another, or whether he was just along for the ride. 

As the now six men rode in the truck, and the bumping began, I-MAN asked if this was the right road to Sindhulpalchok District, where the wedding would take place.  There wasn’t much of a response and soon the truck made its first stop where I-MAN noticed a number of people gathering in a bit of a square, full of temples and gods and such.  I-MAN walked over to the square while the others went shopping for some wedding gifts. 

After a bit of time and a look at what seemed to be an archway to a town, I-MAN sat down on a raised cement hill next to a man with a picture of a palm. From this vantage point I-MAN could see the magic truck, but none of his companions.  I-MAN wondered if they had gone through the archway, because the last he saw of them was at a shop directly across from where the truck was resting.  I-MAN looked at the picture of the palm and tried not to panic, thinking that although he couldn’t see beyond the archway he liked sitting in the square, so he would just wait.  After not too long, I-MAN saw his companions, somewhat weighted down with huge bags, most likely full of gold and silver, i.e. the wedding presents.  However when I-MAN asked what was in the bags, all the companions would say was that there were five rice cookers.
Once everybody was inside the magic truck and he felt a few bumps, I-MAN again asked the question as to whether this was the road to the wedding.  The response this time was that, “this was a good road and it would lead to the wedding”. 

After seeing the Himalayas in the not too distance, the group stopped at a home where the father of one of the main land righters, got out, at his real home.  It was a beautiful setting and it was good for I-MAN to see where one of the main land righters had grown up.  This was only to be a short stop as the group headed to the next stop.

I-MAN saw a two story house and the group got out to spend some time with another land righter.  In some sense it seemed that this land rights stuff was everywhere.  I-MAN wandered up the road a ways to see what he could see.  Sure enough he saw some huge birds flying over a free flowing river.  I-MAN waited until the birds landed in a tree where he took some photos of the winged beasts kissing one another 

I-MAN walked back to the two story house and joined the others in drinking some tea.  It was time to leave again and with the Himalayas in the distance everyone seemed happy.  Finally the main stop, a short hike and they were all at the wedding.

People were crammed, dressed in their Nepali wedding best, onto a porch, with some lush green hills in the background, watching a priest perform the marriage rites.  The bride was upstairs and I-MAN burst into the house and asked to take a photo, with the bride obliging.  When I-MAN came downstairs he made his way through the crowd in order to get the best shots of the events. 

There was an area with a number of items, a fire, some upright sticks and such which were all part of the marriage ceremony.  People were gathered around this area, talking, laughing, watching and enjoying.  When it came time for lunch everyone walked to an area overlooking a river, with long tables full of food.  People were sitting wherever they could, nothing too formal, just joy.

After lunch I-MAN saw the bride and groom sitting in chairs with everyone blessing them by putting lots of sticky, colored rice onto their heads.  Over the course of this ritual the colors started dripping down the face of the bride and it seemed as if her face was melting.  I-MAN just had to participate and took some of the rice and stuck it in the middle of the foreheads of both the bride and groom, whereupon they both turned a bright red and started shaking from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads.  I-MAN didn’t quite know what to do, but fortunately the priest took a big gob of the colored rice and placed it on the crowns of both the bride and groom and they immediately calmed down.  As quickly as possible I-MAN made his way to the back of the crowd and tried to be anonymous, which wasn’t that easy given that he was the only non-Nepali. The other thing that gave him away was the fluttering of his heart whenever he saw a Nepali woman.  Ke garne?

Fortunately the other land righters said that it was time to leave.  I-MAN took a few more photos and they all made their way to the magic truck. 

The group decided to the opposite way from which they had come and they passed many waterfalls but soon came to a construction site blocking the road with a sign that clearly stated, “Construction Site, No Admittance”.  The best driver in Nepal parked the truck near the sign and four land righters immediately went into the construction site to determine what to do.  I-MAN stayed near the magic truck and watched the waterfalls.  Fortunately the land righters soon came back and realized that they had to go back the way that they came.

After an hour or so the magic truck turned onto a road and the group entered a small town where they picked up a woman who happened to be the mother of one of the land righters who was working in Kathmandu.  I-MAN couldn’t believe all the family that he was meeting.  It seemed that the entire land rights movement had sprouted from this part of Nepal.  As if to underscore this point, the group soon stopped at the father of the major land rights guru to pick him up, met the mother of another major lands righter, who had a house next door to the father and then picked up something like 15, 50 kg bags of rice which one of the land righters piled on top of his head and butted into the back of the magic truck, like he was heading a futbol.  It was difficult for the seven people and 15, 50 kg bags of rice, given the size of the magic truck but some of the people just sat on the top of the truck, making more room for those inside of the cab.  Somehow it all seemed to work itself out. 

I-MAN was in awe, well wouldn’t you be, and just before heading back to Kathmandu the group stopped for some tea in a small town.  It was another adventure and I-MAN was quite happy as the next day was Saturday when there would be lots of basketball with I-MAN’s Nepali and Tibetan friends, but that is another story.    

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