photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal
 
GLOSSARY
Nepal glossary

Goma

(NEPAL 24)

Sex

Female

Age

29

Identity

Tamang

Occupation

carpet factory worker (currently unemployed)

Location

originally Kavre district, now Kathmandu

Date

2002

 

transcript

Section 1
How old are you?
29 years.

Where is your parentís home?
In Nijgadh.

How long have you been in Kathmandu?
I donít know exactly how many years, maybe 13 years. The son has completed 11 years and will be 12 years now.

The son was born here in Kathmandu?
Yes.

Which year was it?
When their movement [?] Was at its peak. That was the year.

Your son was born in the year 2046 (Nepali calendar; 1990 AD)?
Yes.

When did you come to Kathmandu?
Came three years before that.

Who did you come with?
I ran away with my village friends and came. I said I would go to weave carpets. I was not allowed to go but got more tempted to see Kathmandu and ran away from home with my friends.

How old were you when you ran away?
At that time I was 15 years old, or maybe not yet 15. May have been 13 years old, was about to reach 14 years.

What had your friends told you about the carpet factory that time?
They said it would be good.

ďGoodĒ in what way?
We could weave carpets, roam around, and enjoy ourselves in Kathmandu city. We could roam everywhere in Kathmandu, it would be enjoyable, and we would not have to work hard like in the village. Work would be available indoors, they said. We got really tempted to come.
Section 2
What work did you have to do in the hills?
Household chores, farming, collecting fodder and firewood, and cleaning the cow shed.

You had a hard time?
It was all right, not much hardship.

Did farming provide enough to eat for 12 months?
It was enough.

Are you a Tamang?
Yes.

Where were you born and brought up?
In the hills.

Born in the hills but settled in the terai (plains)?
Yes.

With whom did you come to Kathmandu?
With villagers, three girls and one boy. They said we cannot go without asking the parents, and I got beaten up badly when I wanted to go. Then next day, I ran away without asking.

Who beat you?
Mother beat me, then I ran away and came.

She said, ďDonít go, donít go,Ē and beat you?
Yes. [She said] ďYou will get lost, itís not good to go, people will take you to Bombay. Where, where did they say they will take you?Ē And yes, I told mother ďSo, other peopleís sons and daughters wonít be taken to Bombay, only your daughter will! We donít get to explore either. day and night we have to do only household chores,Ē I said. And then she got angry and beat me. Then soon after that I ran away, and thatís what happened

Where did you come to at first in Kathmandu?
Came to Jorpati.

In Jorpati there was a carpet factory, what was the name of the factory?
It was called Mary Carpets.

Your friends took you there straight away?
Yes. Our village elder sister (someone from the village, not a real sister) and her husband are from the village and his wifeís parental home is down there. A very close friend of our village elder sister brought me here. Not sure from which place village elder sister married but elder sister and her husband go often to our village. And they come and go often and bring villagers to the city.

When they come to the village, do they wear good clothes?
They used to come well dressed. The wife was weaving carpets; the husband was in the army.
Section 3
After coming to Kathmandu, did things go as you had expected?
No, how could it be like they said? After coming to Kathmandu and weaving carpets they did not pay us for three years. Nor did they give any clothes, and it was difficult. During the course of three years many of those who were working with me returned. They did not let me go.

Who didnít let you go?
The person who brought me here.

That person took you straight to the carpet factory and kept you there?
Yes, at the start he kept me to train me. In the carpet factory they first take you to the proprietor. They keep you to train. For three months they do not pay any money also. Only food is given in the morning and evening, thatís all.

Where did you stay?
We take a room in the factory itself and stay together. Even after I had learnt to weave carpets, the instructor took my salary.

And you didnít ask for your salary?
When I demanded he beat me. Managed to run away from that place with great difficulty later. In Kalanki, the wives of my elder brothers and younger brothers of my elder sisterís husband, others were all there. After I ran away and reached Kalanki, out of nowhere my elder sisterís father-in-law arrived. From there elder sisterís father-in-law took me and kept me with this husband. Again, as he is the younger brother of elder sisterís husband, they talked here and there and married me off there itself.

Who got you married?
Father-in-law of elder sister. The man who first brought me to Kathmandu is supposed to be living in Surya Binayak side [in Bhaktapur]. Well, that man brought me. He is a relative, a distant relative. From the same village, their caste (clan?) is Golay and ours is Dolay [clans within castes are identified by family names]. Dolay and Golay are relatives through the wifeís sisters, so because of that after he married our related elder sister, we called them elder sister and the husband of elder sister.

And they did not let you go out of the factory?
They did allow us out. They used to take us together whenever they went out. We went roaming and went to watch movies.

Clothes?
She had given me one set of old clothes.

And food?
Whatever they used to eat, they gave that.

Who beat you, man or woman?
The woman.
Section 4
Which woman?
That related sister.

Why did she beat you?
I ran away from there since I was not given my salary. Neither did they give salary nor anything else and another person said he would arrange another place for a job. I ran away but at that place where I had reached after running away that sister came and brought me back and beat me.

She beat you alone inside the room or in front of other people?
There were other people. In the front room there were people.

Nobody separated the two of you?
No. After getting a lot of beating I really bit her hand and she stopped. ďI have taught you and you cannot go to another place,Ē she said.

After how long you did you run away from that place?
May be one, two years. After returning I stayed for one more year. After two and half years I got away and came to Kalanki.

After coming to Kalanki, you got married with a boy from which place?
From Maghi Kena.

Where is Maghi Kena?
Kavre district. It is in the hills.

How far is it from Dolalghat?
Well, how far? That I donít know. My parents came to know the father-in-law of that related sister and scolded him, saying ďYour man took our daughter and where is she, show us?Ē Scolded him very badly. ďBring my daughter immediately, now I wonít keep quiet,Ē my father told him. ďIf you donít bring my daughter Iíll sue you in the court,Ē my father threatened him. After that the father-in-law of elder sister came looking for us in Old Baneshwor where we stayed. It was there in Baneshwor chowk. ďI have to discuss with them about taking you back home,Ē he said and brought me from that place. Now it was three years since I had been home and I did not have even a suka (25 paisa). So how to go home? So I decided to weave carpets for two months from which I would get money and thereafter would go home with brotherís brother-in-laws and sisterís husbandís sisters. But there, elder sisterís father-in-law arranged for a boy [to marry me]. Iím not sure who [did what ?], as others were there. And later my younger brotherís wifeís sister was to be made younger brotherís wife and after they arranged all this marriage was done.

Did you like that boy?
Whether you liked him or not [didnít matter]. I had never seen that boy before. I saw him that time only.

How many days before your marriage did you know him?
I knew him one week before marriage, it was during one weekís stay. I was weaving carpet at Kalanki carpet factory and due to this carpet I got married.
Section 5
Both of you wove the same carpet?
During those days one loom used to be shared by four workers. My husband used to weave carpet on the same loom. At that time I thought that boy might be good. Thought he might have good manners and behaviour, and I didnít know anything during that one week. At that time he was young and I was also young. I didnít think that seriously and didnít know anything.

Your elder sisterís father-in-law means father-in-law of husband of related elder sister who brought you?
The one who brought me is like an elder sister in the village; the one who came from the village to take me back is my own elder sisterís father-in-law. Elder sisterís mother-in-law and them (?) keep coming and going and have regular contact. They come and go to their homes. They have regular new contacts. Once you are there they ask whether you want to go such and such place. I said I wanted to go and we came.

For three years you didnít feel like going home?
Whatís the use of wanting? I didnít even have 25 paise and they didn`t pay me for weaving carpets even after selling them. How to go from there? There was no one on my behalf to ask for money I earned by working. As they found I couldnít talk (speak out) they dominated me, and I used to fall ill at times. Used to get ill quite often. ďYouíre always falling ill,Ē they scolded me. Always falling ill, they say and shout. They didnít even bring medicine and if they spent Rs 300 then they inflated that to Rs 1000 and billed me accordingly and said this much has been spent, they always showed me [what I owed]. They said ďAfter we have spent so much money on you, how can you get money?Ē and instead they showed what I owed them. They used to say, ďYour debt is more than what you get from workingĒ - and they didnít pay me anything. What could be done then?

That means it was better in the village?
Yes, it was fun in village those days.

Was there comfort?
Yes, there was comfort. Then father, mother, all were there. It was nice.

Was farming alone enough to sustain [the family]?
Yes. Brothers who could do farming were given education and I had to work in the field.

How much have you studied?
No, I havenít studied.

Never went to school?
I went when I was small, later when two elder sisters got married there was no one to look after my younger brother. Father and mother had to work. And I used to work also, look after younger brothers and cook food for parents. I couldnít go to school, younger brothers were small and we had to send them to school.

What do you do in Kathmandu these days?
I weave carpets.
Section 6
How many years has it been since you started weaving carpets?
Itís been many years since I started weaving carpets. Whatever years it has been since I came to Kathmandu, that also has been the same number of years.

How much can you earn by weaving carpets?
Well, not much till now. Before, it was enough for food and clothes; now it is not enough even for food and clothes.

How is it that it was enough before and not now?
Before, rice was cheap. Everything could be bought with less money. In our work we could keep people and work, could keep two or more people and earn money. Now even if you keep people you canít earn, and what could be done with only two people working?

To keep people at work, how?
To keep people on salary.

You keep?
Yes. Keep people on salary. You make them work, take salary from proprietor and pay them also; you give food and salary.

Work is for the proprietor himself?
Yes, itís the proprietorís. I am just a contractor and there used to be a so-called contractor before.

How much money did you earn that way?
Could have earned money; money didnít come in my hand. Money was in the hands of elders. I donít have money with me. But now itís been long since that factory has dried up. Other factories have dried up long before. The factory where we stay has dried up since last two months.
[The Nepali carpet industry has been in severe decline for the past few years, primarily because of the Maoist insurgency and decreasing numbers of tourists, but the downturn began with Western companies refusing to buy carpets made by children, which was a widespread practice at the time, and because of increased competition from the Indian carpet industry.]

Now there is no work at all?
No work. Even if it is there, what to do weaving carpets, proprietor does not give even 25 paisa?

Why doesnít the proprietor give money?
Proprietor has debts. He thinks he will not be able to pay later so he does not give.

He wonít give even the wages for your work?
He wonít. You have to work somehow. Now [even] after working for a long time the money wonít be enough and you have to borrow from the proprietor and that becomes debt. Then the proprietor cuts your wages, saying you canít repay him.
Section 7
How much do you earn in a month?
Not much. Before one could earn around Rs 2000 to 2500. Now itís not possible. When weaving a carpet, if the design is not in order, looms and borders are loose, there will be a cut in wages. If cuttings match and design is clear, then only you get full wage. If you weave size 90 (small size; 3 feet by 5 or 6 feet), then you get Rs 700.

How many days does it take?
It takes many days. To finish one piece it takes six days and for two pieces it takes 12, 13 days.

So you get 700 for one piece?
For two pieces.

You get 700 for 2 pieces taking six days. So per day you get Rs 50?
That also you can do only if you donít do other work. If you have to cook food, send children to school - then you canít earn even Rs 30 per day.

Proprietor provides you with free accommodation?
Accommodation is provided free. It is given free only if there are 2, 3 persons working. Presently they have not given me. It is now two, three months since the work was completely stopped.

What have you been doing since two, three months to survive?
Iíve remained idle mostly and at times I go to work at feasts and wash clothes.

Donít you get work at feasts regularly?
it would have been fine if you got it regularly, but you keep going and there also they do not pay, itís that way.

Why donít they pay?
Swindlers are everywhere, the contractors are swindlers, and the middleman swindles you.

How much do you get working at a feast?
If you arrange it yourself you can get Rs 200. If the contractor arranges then he pays Rs 150 to workers.

Contractor takes Rs 100?
Yes, you get Rs150, that also after countless to and fro visits. He does not pay immediately. No, he does not pay.

Does your husband send you to otherís marriages and feasts to work?
He sends me. What will we eat if he does not send me? If there was enough to eat staying home then there would be no need to send me.

How many children you have?
Two.

How old are they?
One is 11 years and one 7 years.
Section 8
Did you find out that Kathmandu is entertaining, that you can have enjoyment, see films, dress well and get good food to eat?
Itís not. If you work hard you get to eat, otherwise itís not there.

Is the village good or the town?
For living and work the town is good. For food, the village is good. In the village you can find enough to eat in your own home. Rice, maize - whatever you want to eat is at home. Here, if you donít have money nothing will happen (you wonít be able to manage).

Donít you feel like returning to the village?
What to do after returning to the husbandís village? If you go there is no place to stay. No home, it has fallen to pieces. No one has taken over the house, but as it has collapsed. The neighbours have taken all the timber and other materials. Nobody looks after his land and it has turned barren. Half the land is taken over and cultivated by younger uncle-in-law. A long time back my father-in-law was supposed to have taken a loan of Rs 600, and as interest was accumulating fast, the land was taken over. Money to be repaid is supposed to be only Rs.600, they claim 16,17 thousand. We donít even have 16,17 paisa and where to get 16,17 thousand? How difficult it is here. If I had that much money I would have been able to educate the children, with that much I could even start a small business. Donít have it, so what can be done?

Have you admitted children in school now?
No way [to do this]. I havenít done this time.

Why havenít you admitted the 11-year-old child?
I have not been able to due to lack of money this time. This time he was to go from class two to class three. The younger one is studying in class one.

How much has to be paid?
It is around 2000, 2500 - for admission and purchase of books now.

It costs that much to educate in the government school?
It costs. Not sure how many books are free but the rest all have to be bought.

So this time you are not going to admit your children?
Donít have the money. We have to eat, pay house rent. How to educate the children when there is no source of income?

Doesnít the husband earn?
What to do with husbandís income when he has finished half of what he brought? We didnít even get the childrenís [exam] results for his failing to pay his dues. After repeated shouting, husband brought three, four hundred [rupees] and after settlement of dues the results were given.

At times donít you feel that you should have never come to town?
I do. At times I wonder why I came and started to learn weaving carpets.
Section 9
Why did you come to Kathmandu? Pokhara is there and you could have gone to other towns?
I didnít get friends to go that side [to Pokhara]. All friends said there they wanted to come to Kathmandu. Used to get excited hearing about Kathmandu. It being oneís own capital city, we really imagined Kathmandu to be a beautiful place. When all were very eager to come I also looked forward to coming - during those days.

You feel wisdom failed you those days?
Yes, wisdom did fail me; otherwise it would not have been like this. The sister is leading a happy life after marriage. Parents also keep on scolding as to why I ever married this boy. I had lost my sense, and I once even divorced this husband

Why?
Having faced hardship. Thought he might divorce also. I was separated and taken away, saying that people from my husbandís place are not good and that they take [girls] to Bombay and sell them. But I discovered that my elder son was conceived. Then later I returned.

If the baby was not conceived?
Yes, I also would have remained separated. Yes, parents said they would marry me off to another man. But how was it to be when another personís baby was in my womb? So when I said I would go to the same person whether there was hardship or happiness, my parents came to see me. Before, my husband used to take lot of home-brewed beer and alcohol. He was addicted to alcohol. And he becomes completely mad when he takes that. And now when the alcohol is turned inside out through sorcery the effect is reduced a little.

Who bewitched [him] then?
Well, according to the sorcerer it has to be either by someone from his own village or from town itself that he was bewitched. Due to that he goes extremely madÖ whenever he takes this sort of alcohol, fat, meat and bread. Goes totally mad. Goes completely mad, going around roaring - see, once drunk he couldnít keep his body under control. Utters whatever comes to mind. He used to resort to beating me before and I was beaten badly. Not daily, say once a week, fortnight. Around the time he used to take this [alcohol].

Beating on what excuse?
No excuse was required. You say a few words and he started beating.

Used to beat you ruthlessly?
Oh yes, he used to beat me to the extent that I landed up in bed for a number of days.

And you could not hit him while it happened that way?
How to hit him when he pins you down by dragging you here and there, making you bend down, and keeping you pressed and pressed on ground? You just cannot get up.

No matter how much beating you got, you continued to stay with the same husband, isnít it?
Yes. What to do? Where to go? Even if I wish to go, the children will not let me that way. I love the children so much. Even if I want to take them Iím not sure where. And there are also two of them. I cannot go anywhere leaving behind the children. Itís all due to these children [
Section 10
Donít you feel like leaving your husband at times?
I feelÖI feel so much that I cannot express. Such beating, scolding day in and day out, I feel I want to leave and stay elsewhere. Where to go and stay? Even for a day I feel like going elsewhere to stay. Then looking at the childrenís faces, Iím not sure where I could go, their tears wonít let me find the way. That is why I continue to stay for the sake of children.

And how does the father treat the children? Looks after them?
After beating me he beats the children, too. That day he will not allow us to sleep. Will not let us do anything.

And is he all right after treatment by witch doctor?
Yes he is a little better now.

Where did you go for his treatment?
Here itself, at the sorcererís place. Sorcerer said it was a case of witchcraft. He would enchant (cast a spell on) alcohol, fatty items, and give [them to him?] to eat inside out (?), and it worked.

Now he does not beat?
Now it is from time to time - every six, four months. At that time he sure beats me.

And when he beats he does not care whether hands and legs break, mouths crack?
No, he does not care. Whatever may happen. He walks around carrying khukuri (Nepali curved knife).

He has not hit you with the khukuri so far?
He has not hit me with it.

Itís just to scare you?
Yes.

After your arrival in town you never got what you wished for?
I never did. Never got to eat as I wished, never got to wear what I wished. Never spent a single day that was a good day. Work and more work. Even after working so hard, I never got comfort as I wished.

Now these 15, 16 years have passed since arrival in Katmandu, donít you feel like returning?
I do feel like returning but I donít have a single paisa (100 paisa make one rupee) in hand and however small it may be, a house has to be constructed to live. Supposed to have a minimum of 10,000 rupees, if nothing else, to construct a house in the village. Even for construction of a small house, 10,000 is required. Here I donít have 10 paisa. Now how is that house to be constructed? What to do by going, you canít dig a pit to live in and you cannot go to othersí houses to live. Everyone came from the village to town to compete, and now people will laugh if one goes back without anything, since that was the reason for coming.
Section 11
Your husband came looking for a job because he was also poor?
He was not poor. They say others donít have as much land as his family has. Before, they really had a lot. Now what happened is his father brought a second wife. As father brought another wife, one child became neglected and ignorant, and the mother alone could not do anything. And his uncles persuaded their younger sister/older sister (?) to come to Kathmandu to stay, and earn, to take care of the children, and thatís how she came when the uncle of my childrenís husband told her.

Where is the mother-in-law?
She is with me. Father-in-law is with second wife.

How long it has been since you have not returned home?
I have not returned since my arrival. It is now 17, 18 years.

The husband also has not returned?
No, has not.

You also have never gone to your husbandís home?
I have not gone. Husband went once, five years ago. They have this worship of the family deity. And the rituals have to be done each year by one person and another year by another person when their turn comes. To do this worship of the deity he had gone once five years ago and this time my mother-in-law only went. The husband did not go. When mother-in-law asked for the land to be returned, the younger father-in-law refused to return it without payment of the specified money. ďMy land has to be returned, I want to do farming myself and stay,Ē she had said. ďNow this and that much money that I never used from you, never took, how did it come to so much money and why is such baseless allegation being made?Ē [he replied?]. Then he talked of the old days about the gold of my mother-in-law from the time of her marriage. In any case that gold was supposed to have been bought by my father-in-law from his earnings, that gold. Yes, only baseless allegations. Now if it was due to gold itself that he has occupied my land, then what about income from cultivation of my land for all these years? Now he has already earned so much from farming on that land. If he had given only half the produce of the farm, things would have been different. Neither he has given us one, one and half kilos of maize, nor has he given any paddy. They are farming the whole land. They are farming and taking all the produce. All those years we have not even asked for anything.

The papers (land deeds) are in whose name?
In our name.

Do you have the land ownership document with red seal in your hands?
It is there; it is in the hand of mother-in-law.

They are just cultivating and taking produce and itís not taken over legally, is it?
All has been frozen by order. No one can cultivate it nor can anyone take it and it is kept that way. They would not leave what they are cultivating and so the dispute remains. Now if we go to court and register a case, he will have to go to the police station, if we go and do all that.
Section 12
Is the situation in the village safe to live or not due to Maoists?
Well, they say Maoists assault and kill. Iím not sure what it is.

Maoists have not allowed anyone to live [peacefully]?
Yes, some days back Maoists took away school students, saying they will not be allowed to study, according to my husbandís younger sister who fled and came to Kathmandu. What to do? It is like this. In earlier days the husband had earned money. When he had earned mother-in-law also was not prudent enough. She thought Kathmandu was the place for living. I donít think she ever advised her son to do this and do that, and to go back to the village to construct a house and live there . No, we have reached a stage when we cannot earn and the children are growing up. When I have to bear all this, mother-in-law is also making an excuse. She wants to go home, she says. ďI want to go home today, want to go home tomorrow,Ē she says. What to do, going empty-handed?Where to stay? It is not proper to stay in otherís house. we donít have our own house, donít have our own farm and you canít go there and eat earth, canít eat stone. Now we canít do farming. Even a pair of bullocks is supposed to cost 150 rupees, they say. Whatever is to be done - without money nothing will happen?

Why is mother-in-law tempted to go home now?
Now everyone (anyone?) could have instigated [this]. Others may have told her that this is the time for you to stay here and added other things, and so she may have been tempted to go [home]. In those days, even if father had left with the second wife and he had stayed home looking after it, he would not have faced all this hardship. Once children grew up, sons would come here, earn and take [money] to give to mother and they might have lived comfortably if she had not left home and come. Now since her husband brought another one (wife) ďI will also not bother and [will] go,Ē she thought, and left. She listened to what her brothers said. And thereafter got into trouble. Even after coming here she should have gone home from time to time and taken care of any leaks [in the deserted house] and if that was done, the same house would have remained, but she was unconcerned before and did not care. Such a big house collapsed! It was supposed to be two-storied and all. Collapsed and melted into earth they say. The timber was taken by people.

There is land? How many ropanis (land measurement, approx 455 sq metres)?
There is land, quite a lot, they say. And ours is supposed to be the best land of all. Long time back a helipad was to have been constructed on that land. It is said 300,000 was offered a long time back but it did not sell even when that much was offeredÖ people without common sense. That time they could have sold there and bought [something] at Dhulikhel area (Kavre district headquarters) and settled down. Before, their grandfather used to go there regularly when he was a minister. There was coming and going.

Whose grandfather was a Minister?
Their grandfather called Hal Singh. Their grandfather called Hal Singh was a Minister.

Whose grandfather?
The husbandís. Now uncle is pradhanpanch (head of village council). That pradhanpanch has occupied and is farming the land. Uncles are all in foreign countries. The so-called pradhanpanch has been cultivating all the land.
Section 13
Your husband cannot fight with Uncle?
Maybe he cannot. They are now such big pradhanpanch people. All people from the village follow a running rivulet. Nobody follows a drying rivulet. And that is the way now - people stick to those who can deliver for them.

Now how many rooms do you have to live in, in Kathmandu?
Only one.

How big is it?
Itís all right. For four family members to live in.

Four persons to live in one room?
Yes. Five persons: we, husband and wife, two children, mother-in-law. Together five. Rent was said to be eight, nine hundred.

Mother-in-law does not do any work?
Yes, some days back she was rolling carpet thread. But now she does not do it. We do not take the money she got from rolling thread. What she did with that money, what she didnít, we didnít know any thing. We used to give her food, clothesÖ

She does not have another son?
She has. The other one is the eldest. He is somewhere in India. What he is doing we do not know. He had come last year, the year before, [the first time] in eight years or so. Two, three months he stayed in Nepal, again he returned back and has not come [here again].

[Does she have a] daughter?
she has one daughter. She is married and has become the mother of two children.

Married in Kathmandu itself?
Yes, she married in Kathmandu. She has not gone to the hills at all.

Let us talk about the old times, all right? At the beginning after you arrived in Kathmandu it would have been enjoyable, what did you see?
Wherever you look, lights are glittering. Wherever you look, big, big buildings. I saw these attractive things. Before, I found it enjoyable Ė wherever you look big, big buildings, wherever you look, gleaming motorcars. It was enjoyable. We didnít have electricity in our village.

There was no light in the village?
There was not.

You saw electric lights after coming to Kathmandu?
Yes. You see electric lights during fairs and similar occasions. For instance in places where they showed video films, in the hills, you could see [electric lights].

What are the benefits when you stay in town?
It is beneficial for your body. There is no filth and it is clean. In villages one has to do a lot of work. For instance you have to collect and bring fodder, firewood, drinking water, and you become dirty, filthy. Cattle have to be tended in the village and you have to feed and look after them, and due to that people are quite dirty. Here you donít have to do all that. Itís only for that actually [that the city is good]. For other things it is better in village itself.
Section 14
For childrenís education?
If you can educate them it will be good; if you cannot educate them then how to say it is good?

Now can you educate them or not?
When I think of it, itís not certain whether I can or cannot.

What is that you like most about the village?
Going together with friends for work here and there is enjoyable in the village. Whatever you do there will be many friends and so it is fun.

You donít have friends here?
They are there but all are busy in their own work. I have friends who weave carpets but all are jealous (competitive), I-will-earn-more-than-you type of friends. In the village they take turns - one day one personís work, another day someone elseís - doing turn by turn they go around happily. Here they are jealous about that money. Even if a small mistake is found, most disclose it to the proprietor, that so and so did this and did that - to gain favours for oneself and discredit others. On small matters also used to quarrel in the factory. And the small children also, they keep quarrelling.

And you also quarrel often?
I havenít till now. Sometimes minor disputes take place, big fights have not happened. Actually for the sake of children. Now children play together, quarrel after playing and start telling this and that when their own children get a beating. When that is said, it comes into your own head [to do the same], see? After that you thrash your own child, what to do by shouting at others? Some others even start beating each other. In the factory all stay at one place, the factory is big. There [in the village] they have separate rooms. And stay separately.

How many families were there in the factory you worked in?
There are many. They give a room each for two persons, a small room is given to elders, and a little larger room is given for four - in a single compound.

It must have been enjoyable also when many are together?
It is enjoyable [sometimes]. [But] you have quarrels also, and anything can happen.

Do people help each other when a person falls sick?
They do help. If someone has to be taken to the traditional healer he or she is taken; anywhere else they extend a helping hand.

Do you also get loans?
Who has money to lend? If there is a contractor with many workers under him and he is going to make money, then only you get loan - otherwise you donít.
Section 15
How many people are there in your factory: 50, 60, 100?
There were earlier, but not now.

Now how many are there?
Now nobody is there. Now few stay there who have taken rooms there. We work outside now and those who have taken rooms there stay there.

Is it good for the body when you stay in the city?
For that alone it is comfortable, for the body. In the village you have to walk around in the sun and rain, look after cows, buffalos, and all that results in bodily strain.

Is the hospital close by, in case you fall sick here?
Yes, in the village they rely only on traditional methods.

What is it that you donít like in Kathmandu?
For those who can earn and have money, Kathmandu is a great place to stay - going around, eating and spending your life. But for the poor it is not the right place. As far as possible it is better to stay in oneís own home. Having said that, you cannot go to the village without money once you have come away. How to go, where to stay if you go? Now the family people always put me under strain. They kept their eyes closed when there was time to earn money and now when I am going through difficult times they scold me instead, under one pretext or other. Before, when there was time to earn money, both mother and son did not exercise wisdom. Mother should have told the son that we have to construct a house and settle down, and son should have said the same to mother.
At the time when money was there, mother should have said that we have to construct a house in the village and we all should go there, and we should not spend money here. Having agreed we should stay in the village itself, they should have gone. When we had some money those days he just blew it, at times opening a hotel (small tea shop) and sometimes in living it up. Now when there is not even one suka (25 paisa) he says he wants to go to the village and construct a house. Now from where am I to bring money for construction of a house at a time when there is no money for meals? I told mother-in-law, ĒYou have seen with your own eyes, and you and I stay (live) together, and you are fully aware where I get money from, if at all.Ē But still mother-in-law says somehow a house is to be constructed and she wants to go and stay in the village itself. You need at least 10,000 rupees to go to the village. By any means 10,000 rupees is needed.

Husband cannot bring 10,000?
Bring from where? For him also it does not drop from the sky and it is not something that flowers in the tree. Whatever little is earned is just enough for five persons to eat. Two persons earn and have to buy clothes for children, pay school fees, buy books and pens. There is not even money to admit one child this time.

Doesnít the child say he wants to study?
He says so. He wants to leave that school and be admitted in another one, and is waiting. ďThis school is not good, admit us to another,Ē they say. I havenít been able to manage even in the present school, how to put them in another school? I am scared to ask the teacher to teach free of charge. I cannot ask. He may react by saying that if we cannot afford to educate the children then why did we give birth to them?
Section 16
Why donít you ask the husband to go and talk to the school authorities?
He cannot talk. Whatever it is, I have to manage. He cannot speak and talk to people. He cannot talk to people and speaks softly. That person (husband) is strange - not dumb, not smart either, not sure what type. Also he cannot say any bad word to anyone. He cannot tell anyone his inner feelings as to how he landed up this way. Thatís the type of person he is. The husband canít be bothered.

He cannot make the move to get his work done?
No, he cannot.

What does he say when he is told to go to the childís school?
You go on your own, he says. Sometimes when he is about to be angry he says there is no need to educate the children since he was not educated by his parents. ďI will not educate my children now,Ē he says. ďMy parents didnít educate me and made me one-eyed. The elder brother was given education and he has gone all over and come back. He did all sorts of things and I landed in trouble this way, because they did not educate me. Now I am not going to educate my sons. I will make them like what I am,Ē he says, when he is angry. I tell him that his parents did that to him but I will not allow that to happen to my children. ďWhether you do it or not, I will educate my children, whether it is by working for others, whether it is by forgoing meals. Simply because your parents didnít educate you, you donít want to educate yours,Ē I quarrel with him, telling him I want to educate my children. We always quarrel about not finding a job. If I get a job for Rs 2500 I can educate them. I feel I can.

Again you want to give birth to another child?
Where (why?) to give birth when two are driving me mad? No way.

Have you done family planning?
No. Itís temporary.

And what if another baby is born?
I must not allow that to happen. At times husband and mother-in-law talk about it. Sometimes they say two sons are enough. At times they say, there is no one to put tika (mark put on forehead, of rice, saffron etc) on the son. They suggest one daughter is needed. Then I tell him to marry another and have a daughter; for me two sons are enough.

When you are staying at Kathmandu, what is it that you donít like most?
People here abuse us; abuse us a lot. People of Kathmandu really abuse people coming from the villages. ďUncivilisedĒ, they say, ďwhat notĒ, they say, they abuse [us]. Detest us so much; detest us so much. You have to tolerate so many of their words and what they say when you go around. Those who have houses here abuse us. The proprietors/masters where we work abuse us. The proprietor in the factory once told us to leave the job and go but we did not go. We tolerated [the abuse] and stayed.
Section 17
Why did the proprietor tell you to go?
One is working outside and the other is working inside [the factory] Ė ďI will not give [you] a room, go,Ē he says. My husband has started working outside since a while back.

Where?
In the government.

What does he do in the government?
He delivers pieces of cloth on a bicycle. He says itís hard labour; the chest hurts. One thousand pieces or more have to be carried. On [steep] slopes the bicycle overturns. He says that government [office] is supposed to be at Kalimati. Or somewhere. He has to deliver here and there at Kalopul (Black Bridge) and many other places. Has to go to 80 or so places. The whole day he has to ferry goods from this side and that side on a bicycle. Actually they have a godown (storage facility) only at the place of their work. They do the stitching elsewhere and bring [the material] to the godown for storage . It has to be delivered to many places.

How much does he earn in a month?
Donít know. He started recently.

How long is it since he started working there?
It is about a month.

How much do you earn now?
Now there is no work. Itís now been two/three months, there is nothing. I go to one or two places sometimes to wash clothes. Earn one, two hundred.

How long after your marriage did you get to your parentís home?
Father and elder brother had come to take me. It was enjoyable at home that time. Met with all my friends in the village. And it was enjoyable. Everyone asked where I had disappeared all these years. All my friends said with concern, ďYou donít love us and donít come to see us.Ē When I go to the parentsí place I feel like staying there. Childrenís education is here. Have to come back a little early in case childrenís education gets disrupted. If it wasnít for the childrenís education, I would feel like staying in the village. Only because childrenís study might get spoilt, otherwise once you are at parentsí home I feel like staying there for good.

When you go to the village what is it that you remember most about Kathmandu?
Well, do not remember anything. Attention goes towards children only as to how to educate them. Attention does not go to other things at all.

In case your husband returns to the village, what would you do?
I will also go. In case we go to the village we are thinking of constructing a house and keeping the children there.

Compared to earlier, what are the changes that have come about after you came to the city?
People from the village do not even know how to speak out. They donít know the language of this place either (Nepali). Donít know how to speak. As I stayed in the plains I know (understand) the language and can speak it, too. Many other people have not even seen Kathmandu. For me if I come, I can move around Kathmandu. I can speak, too. Compared to other women in the village I feel I am a little smarter. I feel I do not lag behind anyone when it comes to work and earning a living. Even if I stay in the village I feel I can work and survive. I can do farming if I am in the village. Now I have courage. the only problem is we do not have a house at the husbandís village in the hills. In case we are able to construct a house I have courage to go home and work for a living. I feel I can do no less than others to survive. I feel both husband and wife should come to Kathmandu to earn a little and take it back straightaway. I have thought of earning that way and settling down later in the hills themselves. Now you can run a small hotel (snack bar) or shop here and whatever small amount is earned, can be taken to the village and that, I feel, will be good. If only you could take your children to the village and keep them there it would have been good.
Now here you have to wear clothes, give good food to eat, do all sorts of things. Even water has to be bought here. If you are home, all things come from the farm. My sisters staying at the village donít even know anything about outside. Here in the city all things are known, and even if you donít see with your eyes, your ears hear and they keep giving (broadcasting) all things. In TV also they keep giving (broadcasting). You are aware of news about the country. At the village how will they know all these things? And if you happen to be listening to the radio you come to know, otherwise that also is not there.
Section 18
Though one didnít earn money in the city at least one got smarter, isnít it?
Yes, I feel I have understood certain things and became little smarter. In the beginning, the idea was to earn some money in a year or two but now it all happened this way, that idea is gone down the drain. Never had a plan to stay and do many things in Kathmandu. The idea was to come to Kathmandu, weave carpets, go home and do as the parents say, that was the idea. Now got married here itself. Now life is gone, itís gone for nothing. Just problem after problem. Iím facing much more trouble presently. For me the problem is in not getting a job. Once you get a chance to work money will come little by little. As and when money is there it helps in taking care of your problems. It will also give some relief to the mind. Wherever you look, payments have to be made; there is no reducing expenses at home, either. So what to do and what not to, I cannot sleep the whole night for thinking about it? The proprietor also says he has no money. The proprietor will never pay money, either. Itís festival time of the Tamangs and we have to perform religious ceremony and light lamps to Buddha, and when we ask for money for such purpose he will not give us any.

How did you light lamps to Buddha?
We borrowed from here and there and lit lamps. Mother had come from the village. Those of us here also lit them. Elder brothers, younger brother and myself, three of us lit lamps.

How much did you spend for lighting lamps?
Around 100 to 150. Those who can afford to, light many, many lamps. One lights as many as one can afford. Those who can afford to light many, many lamps, bring lamas (Buddhist priests) to perform the religious ceremony. We couldnít do it that way.

Do you have friends from the village in the city?
None are there.
Section 19
There are no people from parentsí side, either?
No, nobody is there. When I say from the parentsí side, there is nobody of mine here. But from the home (husbandís) side, there are. Their village people, only they are there - no one from the side of the parents. One elder brother is up there at Narayanthan, thatís all.

You would like your children to grow up in the city or in the village?
Let there be a good job, let them grow up a little. Let them also grow up a little and then let them decide if they want to go home. I feel that way. Now the children are small. In the village there are steep slopes and cliffs, and they may go there and fall and die. And other thing is while studying in school, the Maoists may catch them and take them, as has already happened. I fear all this. They are supposed to be taking school students, too. Due to that I fear taking the children to the village now. They may turn dumb. The good thing is the school there Ė itís near the house in the husbandís village. People suggest we construct a house and stay: now motorcars go right up to the house; the school is there near your courtyard; go and stay at home [they say]. Father and grandfather did the family proud through hard work and now in the grandsonís time all this has happened, they say. Now there is also light from solar panels. TV is also shown in the village. Though itís hilly, change has taken place. Now we donít have to walk much. Now after getting down from the vehicle one has to walk a little, about one hour to reach home.

How much you have to walk earlier?
We had to walk quite a lot before. After getting down from the vehicle, had to walk from morning till evening. One whole dayís walk. Had to walk from morning to evening. Moreover, those who could not walk all that much had to halt overnight on the way. That meant it used to take two days.

How often do you meet relatives from your husbandís side?
Occasionally. Donít know most of them from the home side. I recognise everyone I meet, everyone from parentsí side. Nobody comes from the parentsí side, let alone from our own side. Elder brother and his wife sometimes come; otherwise nobody comes. If we were well off maybe everyone would come. We are facing hardships so who will look at us. I remember mother a lot. Remember mother, father a lot. Father has left us and gone.

How many times a year do you meet mother?
Once a year, [or] one and half years. There isnít the money to go and see mother as and when desired. What to do? A small amount will not be enough; about a thousand is needed. Go empty-handed while going to parentsí home from here and bring rice, pulse, edible oil and other stuff while returning from that side.

How do people of Kathmandu treat people of the hills?
ďWhere have these savages, this uncivilised lot come from?Ē they say. ďThey could not even find millet gruel [to eat in their villages] and here [in the city] after getting rice to eat (a luxury) they are boasting (getting above themselves).Ē They abuse [us] when you go to collect water from the tap and when you are elsewhere. They really abuse us, asking where these savages have come. ďBhotay-sotayĒ (negative term for people of Mongolian, Tibetan ancestry, such as the Tamang), many things people of Kathmandu say. Most call us savages.

With whom do you quarrel most?
With the Newars (major ethnic group). In most cases quarrels take place at the stone springs while going there to collect water. ďDonít touch the water,Ē they say. ďDonít touch.Ē They say savages cannot touch till puja is done, till fresh water is filled we must not touch, they say. To tell the truth, I also say ďYou Kasais (butcher caste) - we are lama caste (many Tamang are Lama Buddhists) and we read books. If it was in our village nobody takes even water touched by such butchers.Ē Because it is the city nobody cares much. How dare they abuse us, [these] Kasai-Sasai, Jyapu-Syapu (Jayapu is Newar farming caste) all Newars [she is using rhyming, negative terms for butcher and farmer caste]. And they start quarreling with everyone. Whoever abused us, we called them Jyapu. Whatever they said, we replied the same way. They also say whatever they like. We canít control our anger and we also abuse. We donít like people abusing us, canít tolerate it. You have to reply immediately.
When they are collecting water they wonít allow us to touch the dhara (stone water spout or tap) and if you go close to it they get really angry. They would not allow us there until they have filled all their water-jars. You have to either wait or else. And the quarrel begins. This is a government dhara. Everyone has a right. Telling them ďThis is not your fatherís property,Ē we quarrel. ďYou collect so much water. For us, we donít even get a chance to fill one water-jar.Ē A quarrel takes place, about how greedy you are and you donít die etc. And they shout at us in turn. ďWhere are these savages, carpet weavers, bhotays (negative term to indicate people of Tibetan origin such as Tamang; Bhot is the old name for Tibet) from?Ē they shout in reply.
Section 20
Apart from on the pretext of water, where else does so much abuse have to be tolerated?
Outside no one will be aware of who is what; elsewhere they donít abuse that much.

You get scolded on the pretext of children, too?
We get scoldings for sure. They go here and there and touch things. And on that excuse also quarrels take place. Of all the things, the worst is to be poor. I feel like that. If you are poor everyone abuses you and you have to take insults. Now whatever others say, you have to tolerate it. Even when people say they will kill you, cut you, even then you still have to tolerate it.

Have to face such things daily?
Yes, if you have money you have all, no money and there is nothing. Thatís how I feel in my mind. If you are poor then even relatives are not around [for you].

At least your mother must love you?
Younger brothers love me, too. What to do? They are also in need and donít have enough for themselves. What can be done with love alone? Again, the elder brotherís doing alone is not enough, the elder brotherís wife must do, too. They also have their own problems with two, three children. They have to look after themselves.

Is it difficult to go around in Kathmandu because of its environment?
Well, itís not that difficult. At the beginning certain things used to surprise me. Used to see people going around all dressed up. I wore kurta suruwal (Indian-style womenís outfit), frock and so on. Even now I wear the kurta suruwal. The elder sister has not worn that. My elder sisters wear sarees only. Here they wear trousers and what not. I donít care for people wearing any type of dress, but they go over the limits when they wear really short ones. One should wear what suits the body. I feel girls are going to extremes. The sort of dress for me - kurta suruwal - is decent wear and itís all right. Some walk around wearing under-garments only. Some walk with T-shirt and vest. That I feel is going little over the limit. Everything else is all right as they cover from bottom to top. Some of them wear such clothes that you see everything above the waist and just underwear below. That I donít like much. People coming from the hills have a different way of dressing, eating and sitting in a place. All are that way.
Section 21
You still love your parentís village?
I love it. You cannot help loving a place where you lived and grew up.

What times do you remember village most?
I remember it a lot during Dashain (major Nepali festival) and Tihar (festival of lights, also known as Diwali) time. If I donít get to go during Dashain, Tihar, I feel like crying. Feel sad. Could not go for two years and stayed back crying. Because of money. The husband also did not look for money to send me. He gets so angry if I look for money myself and go. And later he picks up on that and starts complaining about this and that, and how much was spent when you went to your parentsí home. We both earn. And he talks as if he earned it alone. He has to tell his side only. I say when two are working itís half and half, and how could it be yours only? He doesnít understand all this. The children say mother buy this and that. Where am I to bring money from? Still, the elder sonís friend has a shop. They drink milk tea morning and evening, eat eggs, chow chow (packet noodles) and other things. The son says, ďMother, if we had a shop like theirs and had become rich like them, we might also have become like that.Ē

Donít you feel it may become difficult once the sons grow up?
I feel that way. So far, whatever we give them to wear they have worn. Once they grow up then, they have to be given things of their choice. What their friends wear, you have to provide. And that worries me, how to manage that. In the village they wear school uniform. Here they require different school clothes, different home clothes, different clothes for going out.

Donít you feel children are forgetting their own language, culture?
They donít forget; they speak their own [Tamang] language fine. I donít think they will forget their language so long as parents do not do so. They donít forget; you have to keep teaching them. You must not go over the limits and walk around. Your own language has to be spoken constantly. You have to speak Nepali language also constantly and when two languages are spoken equally, you learn both. They will learn if you teach them what was done, what is being done, teach them about all things.

Staying with many Newars, donít you feel isolated?
Donít feel like that. We donít stay with many Newars. Though we take rooms, we are mostly Tamangs staying together. Tamangs are in large numbers where we stay. We are adjusted to the environment of this place. When you go down there to the parentsí place you get sores, heat rash, boils. In the city you have cool places. There are hot places on that side and donít want to go at all. Once they arrive there, they insist on going back to Kathmandu. They really look forward to going to their uncleís house. You keep them for 10,12 days and they say they want to go and once they say that, you have to come back. Now you have brought them up with hardship and hard work, I sometimes wonder whether they will turn worthless and get spoilt as they come across all sorts of characters during the course of their school days. Now I have seen with my eyes so many spoilt children going around smoking when the parents are not there. I get scared in case they also become like that. Now my child does not take gruel at all. Where can we get rice in his fatherís hilly area? If you are in the plains with all flat area, then you could tell that only paddy grows there. In the hill areas you mostly get millet. Rice is hardly there. In the village only millet and maize grow. Thatís why the children may not agree [to move], I feel. You cannot feed them rice just by buying alone (ie without growing it), when at times you may or may not have money. They donít want to eat gruel at all, only want to eat rice. They look for it.