As I'm writing this, I'm sipping on some rum and I'm smoking some cigarettes, alone in my house. I'm tired. My mind made this night the of the end of so many things, that I think I must have blown some symbol-repression fuse.
The most tangible of these is the end of my Indian brother. Not the end of his existence thank gods, but the end of his presence in my house, which for me is almost just as bad. Although your standard expat usually enjoys a lot of luxuries, dear friends are often hard to find, and even harder to keep. All those you cling to can be gone tomorrow, and most move along eventually, for one reason or another. Dev, my partying brother in crime, told me yesterday that he would be gone today, and so he did. Leaving me his spacious room and his almost permanent presence. Excuse me for a minute, while I dry my soaked face from tears.
Together we survived the Nepal festival season. The last month and a half I was trapped in a rollercoaster ride of indulgence, with severe effects on wallet and mind, both of which will take some time to repair.
In Nepal festivals are a dime in a dozen. It has got lots of ethnic groups, and lots of traditions. The two main festivals of the year, both just after the monsoon, are Dasain and Tihar. Dasain is the biggest of the two, but Tihar is also quite conciderable.
The etymology behind Dasain has something to do with some god killing lots of other gods, if the explanations I got are correct, but etymology is secondary, if not tertiary or even a later -ry. It's a family festival, so it kinda leaves us expats in the cold. It's a fifteen day festival, and everyone at the office got a week off if they wanted. Kathmandu becomes deserted. Most people in this city has their roots in the countryside, so most go to their kin. Most shops are closed and the streets are deserted during the most important week. A very strange sight in this overcrowded place.
My band of misfits got by as good as we could. We got invited to a Newari party, which is always nice. Nice company and extremely nice food. One day we went kite flying Nepali style. Which means buying a dozen cheap kites, tying them to specially coated thread getting up on a roof and trying to cut the cords of kites of people standing on roofs nearby. Fun stuff.
Just a few weeks later Tihar starts; the festival of light, which is five days in total. Lots of stuff is celebrated. Amongst others, cows, dogs wealth and siblings are worshipped/celebrated in one way or another. Effect-wise its a mix of Christmas and New Year. People decorate their house with colored, flashing lights, and ignite a lot of fireworks. The lights are mostly electrical now. Someone from my office gave as a rational explanation that these lights used to be (and still are in certain places) oil-candles into which the last of this years annoying insects are supposed to fly.
Before celebrating Tihar though, me, Dev and some others went away from the city a bit to the wildlife resort in Chitwan, which is so peaceful and quiet compared to Kathmandu. We didn't do all that much there. I let an elephant soak me with river water though, while sitting on it's back. And I swam in the human-eating crocodile inhabited river, next to our little resort. But I mostly enjoyed sitting by myself in the middle of the night, looking out for shooting stars, in actual NATURE. Without smog.
Then there was Tihar. As I've been told, Nepali people don't do much charity donating, except for on the third and forth days of Tihar. Then social workers and children go to random or not so random houses and start singing and dancing, after which the people from that house will give money and food. The social workers will give the money to their cause and the children will often use it to go for a day-trip to the countryside.
A group of us had studied some Nepali and English songs and some Nepali/Hindi dance moves this last week. Yesterday we went round the houses of acquaintances to put practice into embarressment; in traditional Nepali attire, which a lot of us bought for the occasion. The night was,.. special. We didn't practice all that well, and most of the non-Nepalis didn't even have a clue what the Nepali songs actually meant. We were somewhat saved though by a sitar, some good dancers, some punjabi beats and the comic sight of those foreigners fumbling with their traditions. I for one got a bit tired at the end, singing 'Deusi re' for the x-th time, but it was fun though.
new year resolution
Outside my house now, the fourth day of Tihar (and incidentally the Newari new year) is slowly retracting it's tentacles. I need some sleep. It's not just the festivals. There's been to much going on lately. Stuff that hides itself in the details and which I'm not gonna bore you with (sounds heavy huh!). I need to repent for my sins somehow (that's just me trying to sound interesting of course). I'm gonna take it easy on the easy stuff... gonna stop smoking for the fourth time this week... gonna start being boring again...
Promises, promises... No!!!! I'm out of smokes!!!...