photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary


(NEPAL 31)










Kavre district





Section 1
What is your name?
My name is Sanumaya Tamang.

Where is your parentís home?
Up there in a place called Maney.

How old are you?
Three years left to reach 50.

How many children do you have?
Two daughters and one son.

How many years have passed since you married and came to this village?
Not sure how many years; I got married at the age of 22 and now it will be 23 years.

Did you marry according to your wish or is an arranged one?
It was an arranged marriage. How could it be according to oneís own wish? If Iíd had my wish (way), I would have gone to another place, a better place, and not come to this poor place. Would have gone to a little [more] comfortable place [laughs]. What to do? One couldnít go according to oneís own wish. Mother and father gave me away like this.

Is there misfortune in this place?
Yes, misfortune. Without working day and night, you do not get to eat. There is no comfort for the moment. Misfortune is unavoidable in this kind of place, where you have the farm and cattle to look after and have no free time. Have to work from morning till evening at home. All the household chores and the farm have to be attended to. Of all those who could [find] work, some are in Banepa and some in Kathmandu. Six family members are divided between three places.

Who are the six members?
Mother-in-law and my three children, the childrenís father, and myself. Altogether six.

Where is your husband?

What does he do?
Social welfare (Social Welfare Council of Nepal, a government office) he says, may be so.
Section 2
How many years has your husband been working there?
Twenty-two years. After three, four years of my marriage he went to Kathmandu to work. He comes home Friday evening, stays Saturday, Sunday and goes off on Monday morning. Due to that I have to look after the household and the farm. Who else will do that, as I am alone?

What time do you get up in the morning?
I get up at 4 oíclock. In case thereís a lot of work I get up at 3 oíclock. If there is little work I get up at 4, 5 oíclock.

What time do you go to sleep in the evening to get up that early?
I go to sleep by 8:30 to 9:00 in the evening. Have to work the whole day. Today it rained and I got a little free time to talk to you and I feel happy. Now many of my chores remain unattended to. Utensils from the morning meal remain soaked there. Clothes are soaked for washing and I never have free time for a moment. As I said, I got this chance to talk to you only because it rained today, otherwise I would have been far away.

What work do you do after getting up in the morning?
I cook gruel for buffalo, cut pieces of straw and feed, and cook meal for us and eat. And after eating I fetch fodder and sotar (grass/ leaves used for animal bedding which, combined with their manure, makes good compost) for the cattle.

How far is fodder, sotar?
If you go to the forest it is far enough but during summer one need not go to the forest. It is available on nearby slopes. It isnít easy in faraway forests as coming back involves walking downhill, and you donít get anything in the forest like before. Fodder and firewood used to be got easily before; now it isnít like that. Around the time of my marriage, fodder and firewood were available in lower areas but now one gets nothing. Maybe too many people or something, but the forest is finished.

The forest is finished?
Gone. Completely. There are a few trees so there is less fodder and sotar for us to bring. There is nothing left in the forest except thorns.

How did it happen?
All finished. You have many people and when everyone goes to bring [fodder etc], it gets finished.

Is there a forest guard in the forest?
There was before, but not now.

Is it because of Maoists that the forest guard is not there?
Now if the forest guard dares to stay he will be killed. And so due to fear he is not there, before he was there.

The forest guard used to stop random chopping of firewood?
He used to stop [this] and we used to be afraid. He wouldnít even let us bring trimmed branches. We could not bring firewood. he wouldnít even allow small branches in our dried firewood loads. Those days we used get plenty of firewood and fodder in our forest. Even three years back we got as much firewood and fodder as we needed. The forest guard was there and put restrictions. Presently there are no restrictions.
Section 3
Can one enter the forest anytime?
Yes, but now people fear to go into the forest in ones and twos. Sometimes [because] thereís a tiger; sometimes for fear of thieves. Sometimes they say somebody has been killed in the forest. We have not seen that though. And we have not gone there, since hearing that, in ones and twos. We only go now if all friends come together to make a big group.

Do you go to the forest daily or once or twice in a week?
We can go daily, too. Now the forest is open. Now we do not go in ones or twos. And during the period of cultivation in June/July we do not get time to go to the forest at all.

How many times do you go to the forest in a week?
I have not gone to the forest at all lately. We have not gone since January/February. Around January we used to go once a day.

Why donít you go these days?
Now one has to find the time. I am alone at home. Now the time to work on the fields has come. I have to do everything by myself. There was no work in the fields during January/February. That time there was mustard, barley, and wheat in the fields but they were not ready for harvest. They were not ready to be cut, so we went to the forest to collect some firewood for the rainy season. Now due to work in fields it is not possible to go.

Which cultivation season is it?
Now it is the time for weeding maize. After the maize crop is harvested some will harvest mustard and some wheat.

You had more mustard and wheat before or now?
The fields and farm are the same but due to this foreign (chemical) manure the harvest is more, we could work and dig more.

What are the new things you have planted that you didnít grow before?
Many have started planting mustard and wheat, which were not planted earlier. In the past, there was no practice of cultivating mustard and wheat. Before, they sowed only maize and barley, now a lot of mustard is sown.

How many years have gone since the sowing of mustard began?
Eight, nine years. Most likely 10, 12 years. In the old days, millet was planted quite a lot. Now everyone has stopped planting millet. Thereís a lot of trouble in planting millet.

What troubles?
First the seed has to be kept. The plant has to be uprooted. Then the problem is to plant mustard [probably means millet here] seed one by one. After the mustard (millet?) is ready for harvest the trouble is to pluck the pods one by one. Then everyone stopped planting it. Now most plant very little.
Section 4
You have also stopped planting millet?
Yes, Iíve stopped. I plant a little bit at one place. In olden times, used to plant it in a field that had to be ploughed for over a day. In our case after ploughing the field for the whole day, we planted the whole day over there [pointing towards a field]. This time we sowed just one mana (measurement of 10 handfuls, approx 400 gm) of seeds. Before used to sow one pathi (8 manas), 12 manas, of seeds.

Isnít millet good for the diet?
Yes, itís good for the diet, but it is full of problems. Without family manpower it is difficult to plant millet. Present day children do not even want to eat millet porridge. These days, kids say millet porridge is chicken manure. They want to eat rice only. They do not know the benefit of millet porridge. If you give them millet porridge they express surprise and sadness and refuse to eat. They do not even touch it. If millet bread is cooked they do not eat that either. You cook porridge; that also they do not eat. So these days, millet is left for homemade beer only. Beer from it is tasty. Beer, alcohol from millet is tasty.

And barley cultivation has also stopped?
Barley [growing] has not stopped. But not many sow this either. There are a few cultivating barley. One can eat barley porridge, too. In times of famine in the olden days we ate lots of barley porridge. These days barley porridge is not eaten like before. Wheat bread is eaten very little. Most eat maize gruel and rice. People have given up eating barley, too. All good things have been given up. Theyíve given up everything of the past. Now barley could be a great feed for cattle if it is sowed.

What do you make from barley to feed cattle?
After grinding barley to powder, gruel is cooked to feed cattle.

Is it because present day people have [too many] comforts they do not plant and eat the edible things of the old days?
Due to comforts or whatever else, present day kids do not find barley, maize and millet tasty at all and do not eat them. We still eat it now and we still like it. We are just one or two who eat these things, so how much do we need?

Why donít kids like to eat barley or millet?
Itís because of temptation and craving for things in shops. They are tempted and attracted by shops, by rice, craving for chow chow (packet noodles)Ö they are not eating [the old crops] because of that. In those days, where were shops for us in the village? Shops with such tasty things? So there was no choice but to eat millet, wheat and barley. We could not even get to taste food products from shops. How difficult it was. Now without getting a taste of food products in shops, how were we to know how things were like? That is why we prefer millet and barley even now. When we were small there wasnít even the practice of drinking tea. Nobody used to drink tea.

How long has it been since the habit of drinking tea came to the village?
Maybe 20, 22 years.
Section 5
Now do you take tea at home?
I drink it now. I have to take it all the time and if I donít take it for one day, I feel uneasy and restless.

Earlier, home-brewed beer would be drunk immediately after people got up, isnít it?
Yes, those who were used to it took it early morning; non-drinkers left for the forest to get fodder and firewood without taking anything. There was no practice either of eating snacks in the morning. Now every household has the custom of eating breakfast in the morning.

What type of snack-eating practice has come in the morning?
It is tea. If there is no milk then they have black tea. Then for kids some flattened (pounded) rice is put into the tea and given. We elders take just tea.

And you do not take daytime snacks?
We have roasted maize (popcorn) for daytime snacks and those who take beer have it with popcorn.

Even now there is a practice of eating popcorn?
Now we do not eat during the hot summer season and only eat it during January, December. If maize is roasted during January, December time, the children eat. Now they do not eat it in summer season, because it will not be tasty. At other time kids eat flattened (pounded) rice, bread, chow chow (instant noodles).

How long have you been planting wheat?
Itís been many yearsÖitís been 20, 22 years. In the olden days, there was no practice of wheat cultivation.

Back then, did you eat wheat porridge or bread?
We ate bread. In those days snacks meant bread, maize, soya bean Ė where would we get tea, chow chow, and baked bread? In olden times, during our days, there was no baked bread, no tea either, and when we were kids a snack was that same old maize, soya bean. We didnít drink home brewed beer when we were kids. If there was no maize then we ate stale porridge and off we went. Instead there used to be milk, [there were] many dairy cows and we used to have curd, milk, butter, buttermilk and that was it.

You didnít sell milk?
You just couldnít raise buffalos then Ė we had just one buffalo in all.

Before, did you tend many [animals]?
I looked after [them] at my parentís home. I tended seven in seven cowsheds. Here at home there were cows when I came after my marriage. Maybe five or six cows were there. And we tended these cows for many years. Now we cannot tend cattle so we do not have them. What to do with so many, as cows do not get sold off like buffalos? And as cows could not be sold, then we started raising buffalos, goats.

And no vegetables were planted here earlier?
No, only radishes, rayoko saag (broad-leaf spinach) were planted in olden days. Now some garlic, onion, coriander, cauliflower, potato, are all grown. Tomatoes, chilli, cauliflower, spinach, garlic, onion Ė all grow here if planted.
Section 6
What different vegetables you plant?
We have not planted potato. Onion, chhyapi (similar to green garlic), cauliflower are planted. From last year and the year before that I have begun to plant a bit of chilli, then a few other vegetables from my own interest. After seeing the neighbourís vegetables we started to plant, too. As I am fully tied up looking after the cattle I donít have time to spare. My husband comes home once a week and at that time he does the planting, weeding, watering and all that. I just cannot find the time. Occasionally I join my husband to help with planting, digging and weeding a little when he is around.

You did not know at all how to plant vegetables before?
No, we didnít. If only I had seen others doing that in the village. And later on, seeing others do this, I started learning little by little and came to know. These days if you do work it yields results, and before it was only due to not knowing how to work. Before, there was no water for vegetables either. The water pipe was not there. Now after the arrival of piped water and trying little by little, some vegetables have come up gradually. Before, due to water problem nobody was interested in growing vegetables. Now we had to wonder whether there would be rainfall from the sky in the summer season and in winter we could not even find time to carry drinking water. It wasnít only for human beings but even for cattle that one had to fetch drinking water from far away. Then where would we get water from to plant vegetables? With piped water coming to the village it is easier now to plant vegetables in the yard.

Where did you bring drinking water from before?
Over there, from the rivulet. Carried it in water-jars.

How long did it take?
Took around 10 minutes.

How long has it been since tap water came to village?
It has been five, six years.

Is it convenient, now you have tap water?
It is convenient. It is convenient when water is close by. Now it is that tap water which is put on the vegetables. Now there is tap water at different places from right up there. And water keeps running in that tap. And you can guide running water from the tap to the field by cutting a clear channel.

The practice of planting flowers has also come?
There isnít so much of that. That same flower used for garlands during Tihar (festival of lights) is planted on the edges of the field. Other flowers are not planted that much.

What difference is there in the village between olden times and now?
Many differences are there between olden times and now. Present time is different. Present era is different. People are different. All things are different when you remember those days. There are differences in ways of eating, dressing, speaking and even ways of behaving. There are so many differences. Many good things are here. Now one or two bad things will be here at times. No one will have good things only. Before, we had to go to the forest day and night for 12 months. Now there is no need to go to forest all the time that way. Many have started planting fodder trees in their own farm and from that they started getting fodder, trimmed or fallen branches of trees and bushes, more or less some firewood and therefore it is convenient that they do not have to go to forest in rain. Now you do not have to walk on muddy and slippery tracks to go to town and market. Now there are facilities so that one does not need to walk like before. Even if you have to walk, it is just for half an hour to an hour as a bus is available near the village to go to town. Do not have to go to Bhaktapur and that is convenient. Before, I also used to collect firewood from forest, carried it on my back all morning to Bhaktapur and sold it there. Now such a hardship does not have to be shouldered.
Section 7
How many years did you go to sell firewood?
I didnít go that much. Maybe for four to five years in olden times to sell firewood at Bhaktapur. Now it is convenient, as one does not have to go to Bhaktapur, need not go to forest.

Why there is no need to go to forest now?
Now young trees are planted in oneís own field. And some collection of fodder and firewood from your own young trees, together with a little bit from the forest, amounts to quite a lot. There was no practice of planting young trees in your own field before. People in those days did not know how to do this. Like now, the practice of planting utish (alder tree, alnus nepalensis) was not there in those days. Not many years have passed since the practice of planting utish started. One or two persons brought utish seedings from faraway places and planted in our village. And when flowers blossomed, the wind would blow [the seeds] around Ė as if [they were] jumping out all of a sudden. And that way everyone in the village now has a few young utish trees.

Besides utish, what other trees and young plants yield fodder and sotar (grass/ leaves used for animal bedding which, combined with their manure, makes good compost)?
Cuttings of grass/branches from gogan (tree), dudilo (shrub), amliso (grass) can be used for the purpose of sotar. I planted all these afterwards.

How many years have passed since these were planted?
Thirteen, 14 years have passed. It has become easier to get fodder and sotar (grass/ leaves used for animal bedding which, combined with their manure, makes good compost) due to these. Now as for these, gogan, dudilo, amliso, the more you trim them, the more they sprout. You trim them in winter and they sprout in summer. And their syawula (fallen/trimmed branches), fodder, will go to the cattle, and give firewood for us. Now there was no light (electricity) in the village before. Light and tap water have come. It is much more convenient than before. We donít have to fetch water in a water-jar. Do not have to go to Bhaktapur to sell firewood and buy salt, spices. Before one had to go on the downward slope, shivering on the slippery track in rain, with a load on your back and a stick for support. While walking in such conditions some fell down the slope. Now all those hardships do not have to be faced. People in those days had to collect fodder and firewood from forest during the rains and still had to go to town to buy some of the things. Now all those difficulties do not have to be faced.
Section 8
Leeches used to bite?
Why will they not bite? So many leeches come. Leeches are in great numbers. And elders in olden times were not like our types. If they saw daughters and daughters-in-law sitting idle for a moment they would come forward to rebuke us, asking how we dared to stay inside the house lolling around and expect to eat what they had [harvested and] stored? Elders of olden times worked very hard also and used to say, ďWe cannot tolerate people remaining idle for a moment, seeing that the whole morning we have been to forest for fodder and firewood, and they loll around at home and still get to eat on wealth that we gathered through hard workĒ. Yes, why do elders have to talk about their days and olden times? Now one has to talk in keeping with changing times. Now the time and era is different.

Do you have your father-in-law and mother-in-law?
Father-in-law is not there; mother-in-law is there.

Was it difficult to get things one liked, like meat, before?
You see, to eat meat one had to wait for festivals before. You couldnít get meat in the village [except] on the right occasion in those days. At festival time we had to slaughter our own chicken and goat to eat. If you felt like eating you could slaughter the chicken and eat.

Chicken were tended before also?
Chickens were tended. But people during those days did not allow [anyone] to slaughter and eat [meat] whenever you craved for it. Then you could not get anything to eat without asking father-in-law, mother-in-law and elders at home.

Mother-in-law and father-in-law would not give?
Yes, they used to give only during festivals. And did not allow slaughtering and eating free. Now they slaughter he-goat, castrated he-goat, in the villages around. Then sometimes they slaughter male buffalo and eat. These days meat is eaten once, twice a month.

That means it is better now than before?
It is better.

Isnít consumption less than before?
No, we have not remained without food. People eat better than before.

You couldnít get to eat rice meal before, isnít it?
Before to eat rice meal one had to wait for festivals. There was no money at home to buy rice. To buy boiled rice one had to go to Bhaktapur and wait in line for three hours. During festivals those days boiled rice had to be bought by carrying firewood. After collecting firewood from the forest we carried it on our backs whole morning and reached Bhaktapur. Out of the money got from the sale of firewood we used to buy, standing in line, the cheapest boiled rice for festivals. We could not afford other good rice. One did not have to wait in line to buy good rice. Those days the cheapest was boiled rice. But boiled rice was tastier than the present day Mansuli rice (local variety) as it did not trouble the stomach; it was beneficial. Now, we do not get boiled rice. Even if you get it, it is supposed to be more expensive than fine rice now. We did not have paddy fields. Now, though we [still] do not have paddy fields, we buy it and all have rice meal.
Section 9
Which rice do you eat now?
Now we eat Mansuli rice (local variety) - that one which comes from the shop, that you buy in kilograms. It comes in a sack and that is what we eat.

Now you eat rice meal every day?
Now, as for the children, yes. For us elders and for me it is only one, two times a week. In my case I have to eat [millet?] porridge. For mother-in-law and me porridge had to be cooked. We do not like rice meal that much. Rice meal does not give energy as much as porridge. Rice meal does not have that much strength. But children do not like porridge. That is why for them rice meal has to be cooked.

Why do present day children not like porridge?
Now habits are spoilt. They are used to eating rice meal. You cook porridge one day and the children will put on gloomy faces. Now they have learnt to eat food from outside. Now for tiffin (light meal, usually taken at midday) too they demand spiced fried lentils, flattened rice, chow chow (packet noodles). Sometimes I can afford to give them this, but where to find spiced fried lentils, flattened rice for tiffin every day?

Do your children study?
All three of them are studying. This is my youngest daughter [pointing to daughter sitting by her side]; she studies at boarding school. Iím not sure what [class] she has reached.

Wasnít there the practice for males of this village to leave village and go out for job?
There was not. There were one or two males in total from this village in government service, thatís all.

And presently?
Now many boys work outside village. Some outward (outside Nepal), some homeward (within Nepal). Now our village folk are not educated. Due to that, some go looking for employment in offices, or as drivers, [or in] the homes of wealthy people or traders. Now at present one or two from almost all houses in the village work in town.

Where do men from the village go to most? India or Kathmandu?
Before, all used to go to India. These days they [mostly] donít go to India and there are more in Kathmandu. Now some of them are in the Arab area (the Gulf states). A few are in other towns. Most are in Kathmandu. One or two from our village are in the Arab area.

Boys from here had gone to India also for work, isnít it?
Not from our village. Those who went were from villages up there. There are none from our village side. Some Bahuns from here have gone to India rather - not Tamangs. Whatever may happen, now Tamang boys have also started going out of the village. Now they are able to work in Kathmandu. [Some] go to the Arab area. Because of that the village has benefited a little. They earn and bring [money] home. They come back a little more educated, come back with new ideas and understanding, teach new things to children. Due to that things are better in the village than before.
Now if all people stayed in the village only, would anything have happened? Eating well, educating children, how do we come to know about new things? [Earlier] villagers were not in a position to see new things. they did not get good food to eat either. Now other people wear good [clothes] and we also like to wear these. For that, money is needed. And when you do not have money the only way is to go out of the village, as other people have done, to earn money.
Section 10
In that case, village men going out has been good?
It has been good.

But then what about the reduction of manpower for farming?
Manpower is reduced for farming. But then they come home once a week. And when at home they issue orders [to workers]. Now for farming you have to mobilise farm labourers. To the extent that you can find time, you do it yourself. If you cannot do it, then farm labourers will do it for wages.

Is it good or not for you that your husband is staying in Kathmandu?
Itís good for the present. The arrangement is good enough. Now, you need money,and for the sake of money what is wrong [with this], even if you suffer? If money was not required, he would have fared well staying at home. If you have a male at home he will clear a heap of dung. He does all sorts of work. Staying at home is good. But what to do? Money is required. Now how is it possible that you want both: the money and the man? In these days money plays a great role. So you have to adjust and get things in order. When he comes home once a week he does give a helping hand with household work. Some money comes in monthly. He can learn certain things from the outside world and teach the children. I have not studied, cannot teach anything to the children. Their father also has to educate them. Now expenses have to be paid by him. Who else will educate them now? He insists on educating the children. Now he has said that though he did not study we have to give education to the children. So, if he had stayed in the village, children also would have been one-eyed (uneducated) like us. Now without money we could not educate them. How could we educate them? Because of that he has to stay in Kathmandu.

Is your husbandís way of behaving and thinking different from people who stay in the village only?
There are lots of differences. Now the arrangement is good enough. Now he has learnt many things through staying in town. That has all been useful for the children. The children got the chance to study. It is getting rather late for me to go [and work].

Can you [stay] for a while, all right? Yes, we were talking about your husband.
There is some difference between people staying in village and those working in town, [going to] market. Their talk is different. They seem somewhat intelligent. They tell of learning from others: things happen this way on the Nepal side (in Kathmandu); it happens that way - and we have to do things this way, [this] has to be done. They have learnt that we should not abuse others. If [my husband] had remained at home, he would have been dumb like a sheep. You become just like sheepÖwhen you stay in hills.
Section 11
Does your husband teach the children to do this and not to do that?
He teaches them, instructs them what to do. Now he also guides me how to teach the children. He meets the expenses to educate the children. Now, father-in-law was working in Kathmandu before. Now he is dead. Otherwise father and son together used to provide quite a lot of support at home. Now it has been 15 years since father died.

What did your father-in-law do in Kathmandu?
He was door guard (house guard) of an army chief. He was in Kathmandu from earlier on. Before, it seems he was in the army. Now there is a pension also from army. At present the pension comes to my mother-in-law here. It was good when father-in-law was alive. Now he is dead. Now the responsibilities of father and son have fallen on one person for all things. Kids have to be educated. Home arrangements have to be looked after. Whenever there are marriages and sacred thread ceremonies (Hindu coming-of-age ritual for young boy) of relatives and neighbours, the obligation has to be met from [my husbandís] salary alone.

How much does your husband earn?
How should I know? He brings all things I need. Now if I ask him how much is his salary, he says why do I have to be told when all things needed at home have been provided for? Now the fact of the matter is whatever I need, he brings. Clothes during festivals - he brings all other things. Now when asked about salary he asks why I need to know about his salary? Now when there is no shortage of things needed, I am not concerned that much whatever salary he gets.

What would have been the condition of the village if men from the village had not gone out to earn?
It would not have been better, I feel. There wouldnít be money. For 12 months it is difficult to survive on farming alone. How to meet other expenses? Now if the men had not gone out to earn, all would have remained here, becoming sheep. Boys donít do any household work. Only women have to do. [Men] only do just a little bit of work on the farm. And when not much work was to be done, some turned into all time gamblers, some turned into thieves, some turned to jealous thoughts. Men used to fight in the village itself after drinking beer and alcoholÖ used to beat their wives, isnít it? Then there will be one or two in the village who are extremely jealous of others doing better. There are also people who donít do work themselves and become jealous of others doing and faring well. That type of people who have habits of anger and jealousy are found in all places.
Now, is it not better that instead of [them] staying and [us] struggling with such people, men go out to earn a living? They do not earn money only when they go out; they also bring wisdom with them. They understand what to say and how to talk. They learn what and how things happen in places. We should not be doing this way; we should be doing this way - now they have realised that. If they had continued remaining in this village, what would they have realised? They would have become more of a mad man. They used to go around drinking alcohol and fighting. Either they would go around gambling all the time or would go around being something [troublesome]. People would have gone mad if they stayed in village only. There is no other work except to do farming and eat. It is like this in village - drinking beer, drinking alcohol, getting drunk and fighting.

Do you often go to Kathmandu?
AhÖ I do not get time to go to Kathmandu. At least for nine years I only got a chance to go to Kathmandu last November. What does it mean that Kathmandu is close by? Household work never leaves you. I just donít get time to go, donít get to go anywhere. Those days to go to Kathmandu one had to walk the whole morning to reach the place to catch bus. Now a motorable road is nearby in the village. Still I cannot go.
Section 12
[You only went once to] Kathmandu in nine years, why so?
Sometimes I used to go to husbandís room in Kathmandu in the first year or two. My parentsí home is in Satdobato and there I went last November [for the first time] in nine years. My father and mother are there in the village itself. Six brothers and younger brothersí wives have constructed a house at Satdobato (in Lalitpur). And I havenít been there for the last nine years, so this time after nine years I went in November and came back.

Who are there at present in Satdobato?
My elder brother, younger brother, and elder brotherís wife are there.

Did you see many differences between Kathmandu of nine years back and now?
Yes, many differences. How difficult it was for me, not recognising the road. What an adversity it was for me. If I hadnít taken my son as company I donít know where I would have gone. I showed my son the opposite road. I said, ďThe old road to go to my parentsí place is from this side.Ē My son said, ďNo, mother, the road is over there.Ē He said the road to go to uncleís house is different [now]. As for me, I said the road was not that one at all. As for him he insisted the road I showed him was not the right one at all and I had to go this way. When I refused to take the road showed me by my son, he pulled me away, saying where was I trying to go. I told my son that this was not the road at all, he could go and I would not go. Then my son pulled and dragged me towards the road he chose. Night was approaching and it was becoming darker and darker. And from then on I was worried and started to fear where my son would take us, maybe we would miss the road. Now I had no idea where we had reached. [Un]like in mountain villages, in town people would not give us a place to rest for the night.
Finally, after weíd gone a little further, my son spotted the wife of second younger brother on a balcony. ďWell, mother, please walk in front,Ē my son said. Saying ďLetís goĒ, and keeping me in front, my son led me to a cove (alcove/narrow passage way?). In our mountain areas there are no such alleys and coves. Goodness me, what Kathmandu has become. Then seeing us, wife of second younger brother smiled. And as I looked, second younger brother`s wife was there on the balcony. ďOh! sister has arrived,Ē she said. Only then could I relax. And my son went inside. See now if I hadnít taken son I would have been lost, wouldnít I? Not sure where I would have landed up.

How old is your son?
My son has completed 15 (years) and has reached [the age of] 16 now.

And your eldest son?
There is only one son. Two daughters. One daughter [has almost] completed 21 [years] and reached 22. She is 21 and will be 22 in August /September.

Where are the children studying?
They are studying, yes. [One] daughter is studying on campus at Banepa [town in Kavre district] now and says examinations are going on.
Section 13
Is your daughter the only one from Tamang community staying and studying at Banepa after passing SLC?
In our village we have two like that. The other one is the younger sister of the husband of my neighbour.

How much has she studied?
I donít know what it is, they say ANM (Assistant Nurse), SNM [narrator doesnít know the actual names of the courses.] What is it that, studying nursing?

What is your daughter studying?
My daughter is studying at campus but Iím not sure and donít know what [exams] she said she has taken. We have taken a room at Banepa for her to study. Banepa is close by from our village. You get to catch the bus after walking about half an hour. Travelling [that way] it takes one or two hours to reach Banepa. But because it is a hilly road it is not good. It is [only] a dirt road. There is a bus service only twice a day from the village to Banepa.

Havenít you thought of your daughter marrying?
Now thoughts [of this] do come. Some come to ask for my daughterís hand. But my daughter is not willing and what can you do about it? She says she will take care of marriage herself after getting service (job). We wanted to fix her marriage but she is not willing, so what to do? She is not willing as she is studying in campus. She says she is about to finish her studies in IA (exam after SLC), and Iím not sure what that is. Now after she finishes her examinations she will have completed two years of studies.

You are happy that daughter is studying?
I am happy and have encouraged her to study. The time has come for her to get married. I tell her that I was married at the age of 22. Now when you tell her that people have come with a marriage proposal and what is to be done, she says no. And she [still] says no. And once she says no you cannot put pressure [on girls] these days. Now present day daughters are not like those in old days when they had to go where they were told to go. Whoever [the parents] picked and told you to go with, you had to go with him. Furthermore there is no point in compelling educated people.

Now the practice of compulsion for marriage has gone?
These days the compulsion has gone. Now there is no practice of compulsion. Only if there is willingness.

In olden times marriage took place due to compulsion?
Of course due to compulsion. We had to marry due to compulsion. Once the parents wished it, then we had to marry, whether he had goitre [or is] old, lame. Once parents liked the boy, liked [him], then one had to leave home. Girls had no choice, [no way] of saying I donít want to marry him, donít want to go. In my case marriage was done that way. Otherwise, as I have already said, why would I have ever married and come to this troublesome place? Now that practice is no more, it is a matter of consent.

In that case you will not compel your daughter to marry?
No, one must not compel at all. Does it work these days to compel that way? Without the consent of the daughter?
Section 14
To what extent has the practice of caste discrimination and untouchability diminished in mountain villages?
Well, nearly all mix on an equal footing. No, it is not there these days like before, that issue of caste discrimination. Very few cases are still there. Those days there was the practice of checking the background of parents, maternal uncle and his relations while looking for bride before marriage. These days once the consent is there, then only blacksmith and tailor get discriminated [against]. Except for blacksmith, tailor and shoemaker, all others are accepted now. All mix equally and once they like [each other] and are happy, that feeling [of prejudice] is not there. Those days even among our Tamang community there used to be the system of blood relationships, leading to certain restrictions based on clan [identified by family names, such as Moktan. Intermarriage is discouraged between certain clans].
Before, even in our Tamang community we had some high clans and low clans. How that came about is that some married Bahun, Chettri (upper caste groups), Gharti (ethnic group), Newar (major ethnic group) and had children whose children in turn were not accepted for marriage to children of the Tamang community. Now in the past Tamang males and Tamang females worked and stayed in the Ranaís palace (the ruling family until 1950). Some married those Tamang girls working in the palace. And children from [such a] marriage did not get good treatment by Tamang people from villages. Those who stayed at the palace were not considered good in the village. Now it is not like that. All are the same Tamang. Tamang have many clans. Only thing is that you cannot get married when the clan is the same. For example a Moktan (Tamang family name/group) cannot marry a Moktan. That sort of clan relation would mean they are our own blood brothers and sisters.

Why were girls working in palace treated that way?
Not sure why but those who stayed in the palace were not called good girls (they were not respected). Now their fireplace (hearth, centre of home, considered sacred) is supposed to be contaminated. You see, Tamang girls stay at the palace and they do the cooking there, look after the children of Ranaís (former rulers), then do other different kinds of work. There they also stay as nursemaids. And those types of women who get married, their children will have no companionship. With them, no marriage was done.

Is it because girls working in palace were supposed to be spoilt [by their association with the Ranas; thereís an implication that some were mistresses of Rana men] and others would not marry children born from them?
They were treated as outcastes since [they were] associated with impurity, and therefore the obligation to mourn, to perform rites after death, didnít fall to the family/caste. Due to that, people in the hills did not like Tamang girls working in Ranaís palace. As they were considered outcastes, their family/caste didnít have to fulfil the religious, social and other obligations in such cases. In the past, their after-death rites were performed in a different manner. Now it is not like that. Now if one likes, the only practice of discrimination that is still there, is against tailor, cobbler and those from the low class of the Newar (major ethnic group, with their own caste system). Weíre not allowed to marry with them. Except for these, you can marry from another caste if you like and there is mutual consent.
Section 15
Will it not make any difference to you if your daughter said she wants to marry from other caste?
Now if she wants to marry of her own free will - what can we do?

Will it not make any difference if married to Chettri, Bahun or Newar?
Now what could be done? There will be some difference, of course. But now regardless of who your daughter goes with, if the daughter and son-in-law visit, you have to give them a meal. Evenso, when [someone is] married to another caste, it will not be acceptable to our family god. [The couple] cannot do anything nearby or enter the upper floor/room where our family god is kept. It does not suit our family god. If [you have] gone with another caste then you cannot do anything related to the family god, otherwise there is nothing wrong. Now if she goes to her own caste, she then can do everything. At home she can go anywhere. As far as possible I would like her to go with her own caste. See now if she comes across a good boy and is willing and happy and gets comfort, it doesnít matter even if it is another caste. Whatever destiny was written for her yesterday, that will happen. We cannot erase that. If she lands up in the wrong hands she has to face destiny as it is written for her.

In olden times parents may not have been as open as you are when talking about children, isnít it?
They didnít tell (talk about it). They would never tell. If you liked a boy and wanted to choose him yourself, then they would not allow you to come back to the parentsí home in those days. They treated a daughter as [being] as good as dead. They would not care about the hardship she faced. That is why in those days the time was not right to marry according to your will. Because they fixed marriage at a very young age. Then they did not keep you at the parentsí home like today, up to 20, 22 years of age - no longer flowing with youth - and they had you married when you were in your teens. Once a daughter reached 12, 14, the parents would look for a boy and if they liked him, they would send their daughter.
Whether the boy or girl liked such an arrangement is of no concern. Once the parents liked a boyís home, family, then they would just say: you are for the son of so and so and have to go to such and such a place. Now that practice has decreased a bit. Now when I think about myself it is painful. I did not even get to see the boy before marriage. My parents did not educate me either. I do not even recognize ABC. I have not read at all. Feel sad. Now if you had studied you would know to do things this way and that way. Now though I myself never studied, my children are being educated. My childrenís father also says that though we didnít study and became one-eyed (uneducated), we should educate our children and not make them one-eyed.

What class does elder son study in?
The son is in boarding in Kathmandu and now he has gone to [class?] seven. The youngest daughter also studies over that side. Now she has come back on holiday. I think my youngest daughter has recently started class one in boarding school. She was admitted late, after growing up a little. Before, she was hanging around in the village school. And she wasnít studying well. Now fearing she might spoil her education, we put her in boarding school in class one.

Which language do you speak at home, Nepali or Tamang?
The Tamang language at home. Now children at school study Nepali. I do not speak hill language (Nepali) that well. At home we speak our own language. When I go out I find it difficult to speak Nepali. I feel shy to speak Tamang in front of others. Therefore whenever I go out I speak broken hill language.
Section 16
Compared to before, present day children are smart, isnít it?
Oh yes, they are. They are different from us. Now in those days if you asked children in hill language whether they ďeat stoolĒ, they would say yes. They didnít even know what ďstoolĒ was. [Nowadays] you do not trick present day children with hill language. Now they know more than we do. Present day children can take us for a ride! Now children are too smart to describe.
When I came here after marriage these Jaisinis (Chettri or Bahun women, ie higher caste) used to come to see the new bride. As they came I used to go to the upper floor to hide. They couldnít speak much Tamang language and I didnít know hill language. Therefore as and when those Jaisinis came to see me, I used to go to hide in the upper floor.

You felt embarrassed and used to hide?
It was due to embarrassment. Now when they came you had to speak with them. I couldnít speak hill language and what else [could I do], if not go to hide?

Now you donít have to hide?
Now I donít have to hide. Now we are together in the farm and elsewhere, so we have managed to learn little by little.

Arenít Jaisinis smarter than Tamangnis (Tamang women)?
Jaisinis are real smart! Now we often have this [practice of] lending things amongst ourselves. Now they are neighbours near the courtyard itself. We live together as if we had a common courtyard. For borrowing and all other purposes [we are together]. If they donít have [something] at their home, they come to our home. If we donít have [something] at home, then we have to go to their home.

In olden times they acted as Bahuns (Brahmins)?
Now that [time] has gone. Their time to despise us has gone.

Before they used to despise you?
In the old days they really despised us, used to call us Bhotini (perjorative term denoting people of Tibetan origin such as the Tamang), Janryani; (alcohol drinkers; women drunkards).

That is to be taken jokingly or literally?
It was said with anger, and jokingly also. They used to make us work without payment. Whenever they had work they called us for a while, a little while. They ordered us to bring one load, two loads. Before, we had to do what they ordered us to do. Now that practice is not continuing.

They used to make you work without payment?
Without payment. They tried to suppress us. Before, we didnít have that much money. Sometimes we had a shortage of grain. Due to that, we had to borrow grain from them to eat. So they could tell us to do this, that and the other. Then we had to repay the full amount of grain brought from them. Then interest was charged separately. Then again they troubled us with work; [these were] well-to-do people [who] have died now. They didnít even fill a pathi (brass or copper vessel containing around 3.2 kg) properly when measuring grain. They played with the pathi, tilted it a little bit to this side, didnít fill it full and gave it to us that way. They used to fill a pathi tilted on one side; then, when it was held straight, it would be one or two handfuls short. And when there thereís a shortfall of one or two handful in each pathi one can imagine how much profit was made! They did it that way. Those people have died now and such a situation is on the decline. Now no one can oppress us that way.
Section 17
Now, what would you do if their children ordered you to work?
Thatís why I have said it is not like before. The present generation is not like their fathers and grandfathers. Today they still try at times to oppress us - but now if they try to oppress and order us to work for nothing then we straightaway tell them that we are not their slaves and servants. Thatís what we tell them now. Today they are not allowed to oppress usÖcannot intimidate us.

What made that happen?
Now all are educated. Even though we didnít study, our children have studied, our younger brothers and sisters have studied and understood all things. So [upper castes] donít get the chance to oppress us.

How long has it been since Chettris, Bahuns stopped oppressing Tamangs?
Itís been around eight years. Up until seven years ago they oppressed us. Until that time we also had to bring some grain from their home to eat. Now we donít have to bring [grain] from their home either and they donít have [the right] to order us around. Before, Jaisinis used to say: you Janryani (drunkard) and you Bhotini. They used say that we take alcohol and slaughter chickens.

Was that because Tamangnis (Tamang women) drank a lot of beer?
Not that, whether we drank or didnít, they canít tell us that. Whether we drank a lot or didnít, ours was an alcohol-drinking caste. And as it happened to be a drinking caste, they used to insult us always by calling out ďbeer/alcohol drinkersĒ - whether we drank or not.

Tamangs drink a lot of beer/alcohol, isnít it?
They drink. But some do not drink at all. Now Tamangs drink less compared to before. Rather, Jaisinis (Chettris, Brahmins) have started drinking a lot. Now, Tamangs need less beer/alcohol, and rather it is the Jaisinis, Bahuns, who canít do without it. They have started drinking a lot, secretly. As Jaisinis started drinking heavily there was a song on TV broadcast recently along the lines that due to Jaisinis drinking too much alcohol, the buffalo didnít get gruel to eat [reference to a satirical song making fun of the fact that the words Jaisinis and bhainsi (buffalo) rhyme].

Because they drank alcohol, buffalo didnít get to eat gruel? How is that?
Now they had already started drinking. Jaisinis started drinking beer, alcohol, and the buffalo didnít get to eat gruel, it said. [So itís] like that Ė now Jaisinis canít do without alcohol, without beer, whereas for us, even if itís not there itís all right; and if itís there thatís all right too. Drank alcohol, looking in the mirror, sang a song as Jaisi had said so. If itís there, thatís all right and even if itís not there, thatís also all right at our home. The practice is there from before, about drinking. Therefore itís all right whether you drink or not - for us, if we have [alcohol] itís fine and if not it does not matter. Presently, a Tamang does not go jumping around and creating havoc, bloated with alcohol like a Jaisi in this village.
Section 18
Jaisinis go around that way, jumping?
And you see that second one (the second one among brothers), the second one. The second Jaisinis creates real havoc in the village when he takes alcohol. He shouts and jumps, and does not let anyone rest in peace in the village. But these days he may have stopped drinking.

Why did he stop, is it because of fear of Maoists?
Well, there are too many drinking alcohol. People have all degenerated. So he made a solemn promise and gave up. It was not due to fear of Maoists but because his wealth was finished. And what are people to eat thereafter? Then fear may have gripped him with the realisation that life had finished and that [his] turn to be laid to rest was coming soon enough.

Tamangs also cannot do without beer, alcohol, isnít it?
There are only a few who cannot do without it. Now for most, if itís there thatís fine and if itís not there thatís also all right.

Arenít Tamangs spoilt due to home brewed beer and alcohol?
No, not that many; they drink at home in moderation. They donít go around buying and drinking at liquor shops. They have [alcohol] at home and drink moderately. And drink whenever they go here or there as guests. You drink the right amount at home and go. And they donít do like Jaisinis, going around liquor shops to buy [alcohol] to drink and creating an unnecessary nuisance.

What other facilities have come to the village?
We should not call good things bad. Life is more comfortable than before but womenís responsibilities have not decreased. As you have seen, we donít have time to spare. The world is watching. But now all are good. But I get angry when this electric light goes off from time to time. Otherwise itís good that they get to study at night during examinations, since electricity came. Now in those days you had to light a kerosene oil-lamp to study by. They lit kerosene oil-lamps and studied. Then when you got up the next day, one would find oneís nostrils all black. Now it is much more convenient: we can watch TV; we can study by electric light. Clothes used to get black while we were lighting the oil-lamp because of the kerosene oil.

The road has also reached the village?
The road has also arrived, though unlike in other villages it is not that good in our village. Others on the opposite side (the next village) have expended (given up?) their paddy and dry fields and constructed good roads. In our place this is the only one clay road. There is no agreement/official approval about constructing a road towards Lalitpur. This is the only road; thatís all. People have constructed such good roads in some places and at the other side now they drive a motor vehicle through forest and paddy field. And in our case somehow it was sanctioned up to a place called Ranidhara but it has not been constructed well. Further, they wanted to make road and since they have been doing all that, we are unable to take the buffalos to the rivulet now.
Section 19
There is no road, as the bulldozer has destroyed it on the ridge. The bulldozer has destroyed even the narrow path. That road has also gone. And there is no way to take the cattle out. For those living by the roadside, it is easier to take the cattle out. For us it is difficult as there is no way to take the cattle out to the rivulet. There is a narrow path for people to walk along and thatís all. Now you canít take cattle to that ridge. There is adversity now. Neither have they constructed the road nor could the cattle go to the rivulet.

And what are bad now than before?
The forest is fast disappearing. Other things are all right. What could be done even if the forest is disappearing? We do not get to go [there]; there is not enough free time. Now these days in June/July it is infested with leeches. Before, when we used to go for fodder, sotar we had to carry a medical kit to avoid bites from leeches, and had to rub salt, ash, a type of hot black pepper into our hands and feet before going.

You used to go without wearing shoes?
And they came in real force! They hung in packs up to the knee and waist. They were also not small leeches, [but] big red khari leeches (khari juka are large leeches found in the high hills). That leech, when pulled from the body, would not break off and remained stuck. When it rained, you could not pluck and throw it off. It just would not come when you plucked. And you kept slipping Ė you slip here and slip there. Now, that sort of hardship is not here. Now, you donít have to pluck leeches from your body that way.
Now, we donít go to forest in the rains. We have planted young trees in our own fields. Now there is no time to bring [fodder] even from our own dry field. There in the dry field, leaves and branches are getting rotten as no one is there to collect/clear them. Now there is no place where there are leeches. Now leeches are not there at all. Now you donít have to pluck leeches out like before. It has been about six, seven years - eight, 10 years Ė a since leeches had to be plucked out. In retrospect, the bad part for now is that you do not get to roam around the forest freely and cannot go happily together in a group to work in a field, thatís it.

Is it due to fear of Maoists?
These days if you happen to go towards a rivulet [only] one or two leeches come. You donít have to pluck out leeches like before. If you go to forest you [do] have to pluck out leeches.
There is no fear in the daytime when you are in a group working in field. At night, there is fear about going out in the evening and early morning. Now you want to get up early and open the door to do some work but you are haunted by the feeling that a Maoist may be already there, and fear grips you, not knowing what may come. Before, you could leave your door open the whole night without any fear. We used to go to the forest to chop firewood the whole night. Now you have that feeling that the moment you open the door they may flood in. And so I am afraid. And you get up early but you are scared to go out. There is fear that a thief or somebody else may come in the name of the Maoists. When one gets up itís not good to wake up others. One has to do his/her duty oneself. If you want to wake up all and want company, then the children will start crying, [making] all sorts of noise. Nowadays, getting up alone to open door is what makes you scared. Dusk and dawn are the times to feel fear now. Unlike before, itís not free in the village these days.
Section 20
What time did you used to get up in the morning before?
Before, we had to pound flattened rice the whole night. We got up during the night itself and brought water from the river. There was no practice of using a clock those days. You look at teen naal (telling the time using the sky and the stars). We used to go by the calculation of teen naal. Now there was no practice of using clocks and we were in the forest to gather fallen dry leaves. All friends together went to the forest to gather fallen dry leaves. Once in the forest we had a nap and still it was not dawn. Then when it was dawn we gathered fallen dried leaves and returned home. Then, after arranging our load, we reached home with it around 8, 8.30. Now one does not have to walk that way.
Oh, I will be in trouble now (meaning her husband will scold her). Lot of clothes are soaking in the bowl. Itís raining heavily, so Iíll have to wrap [them in] plastic and wash them. Now itís raining and Iíll have to go to the field later. [Suddenly she noticed how hard it was raining and that time was running out.]

What do you want to go for in the field?
To weed out grass. And to eat porridge later, we have to go to grind powder (flour?) in the grindstone.

Donít you want to rest on a Saturday?
Whether it is Saturday or Sunday we always have to keep on moving and life has to end that way. Today it rained and I got some free time. Otherwise I had to weed maize plants in the field, supervise farm labourers and there were many other works. Today nine, 10 farm labourers would have come, but due to the rain they are not there.

How much agricultural land do you have?
The field is there and the area it covers requires two full days for a ploughman to plough.

Is life hard in hills?
It is hard. Now it rains like this in the hills. You fix a day to do certain work and it starts raining this way. No, itís like the saying: ďYou aim for the log; the axe aims for your kneeĒ (Nepali rhyming proverb meaning you think youíre doing one thing but circumstances make another happen). Rather, instead of living in the hills it is better to just have gruel and stay at home, and a wage earner doing his daily work may be leading a more comfortable life. We cannot get to sleep even when itís raining like this. When the sun shines we have to pick up our wicker basket and start moving, thatís how it is. Now these days when we talk of hardship itís not the type we had in the old days when one had to walk far and carry heavy loads, but our hands are not free for a moment.
Section 21
Donít you sometimes feel like staying in Kathmandu itself, even if it means facing hardship?
Now, I didnít stay there when I was a young woman. Now at this old age why go to Kathmandu? Not going. Though life is difficult I will stay here. Now if I go to Kathmandu once in a while my husband will not let me stay. [He says] buffaloes may have died at home and I must go back immediately. He does not take me sight-seeing. Now he didnít take me sight-seeing even when I was young, so whatís the point at this old age? The moment I am in Kathmandu he starts grumbling about home [saying] that buffalos have died, goats have died and what not. No, he would not allow me to stay and go around in Kathmandu. He keeps on telling me to go home. Now I myself have reached old age. He has had a comfortable life in Kathmandu and he is still young.

How many years younger than you?
Three years younger brother (meaning male relative) than me. Three years younger. Even now he looks like a young man. He looks much much younger man than me. In my case, working day and night has made me like this.

And doesnít he say that you are old and he wants to marry another wife?
He doesnít say that. Can one bring another wife? Even if he brings one it will be like putting two namlo (band put round forehead to support load being carried on the back) on one back, and he will suffer. If he wants to bring one he could, now that my children are grown up; even if he brings another wife I have no worry.

Arenít you worried about a second wife?
No, not as my children are grown up. In fact if he brings a wife, I will wear good clothes and eat tasty foodÖwill live in comfort. He has to make a house for me. And I will buy good land by the roadside and tell him to make a house. And will live happily. I will have comfort if he brings another, but he does not bring one. I have already told him to bring one. Now he does not say anything. Before, he used to say he would bring one. Now who will believe him? Now he has these grown-up children, and who will come? No one will come now. Even if he says he will bring [someone], nobody will come now. Now there is nothing to worry about and I should rest in peace as the time to die is close by.

Have you seen any Maoists?
I havenít seen any. I have seen [about the Maoists] on TV and heard about it all. See, they say on TV that in such and such place so many died. They say in different places: this many died and that many died. They say they kill this way and that way, coming to different villages. And we also fear here. False Maoists came here in our village to swindle people. One thousand rupees was taken from villagers here. But they havenít come to our home.

Donít you feel like staying in town?
Because of the smell of petrol from motor vehicles I donít like to go to Kathmandu. There you donít get clean water to drink either. Here in our hills we get such good drinking water. Here our drinking water in the main source does not get warm, even in the months of March, April, May and June. At all times it is cold and refreshing. Water brought from the main source to our water tap here never gets warm and is clean also. Water in the main source is brought from quite far. It is brought from very far awayÖour water here.
Section 22
Kathmanduís water does not have a pleasant taste?
It has an unpleasant taste, that water from a well. You have to pull up a bucket to take out water. It has a bad smell. Here we have such a refreshing climate. How beautiful the place is too. We can survive on gruel and porridge only, can survive on climate only. The water in our place is so good. If you are hungry just gulp half a litre of water and your hunger also will disappear; our water has that much strength to support you for a while. [In the city] food items donít match [ours]. The water also does not match [ours]. You get smelly water in crowded places; donít get tasty things anywhere. You wonít get as tasty [food] as you do here.

Because of the rains you donít feel like going out?
(Answer not recorded .)