Category Archives: Wagle Reporting

Watching a Nepali Movie: An Experience

And the experience was horrible.

arunima lamsal with mom n dad

Actress Arunima Lamsal in a premiere show of her sixth movie Abhimanyu in a Kathmandu theater on Friday, 5 Jan. Pics by Bikas Rauniar

Two days ago, I watched a Nepali movie called Abhimanyu (name of a character in ancient epic Mahabharat who falls into a spiral and is killed by enemies). It was kind of compulsion to go to the theater and see the ‘action and comedy drama’. As a reporter you have to face such situations. People in film fraternity always lament: Why Kantipur is not covering Nepali films? As the coordinator of the arts and style section of the paper, I have to handle such complains. After I got invitation to attend the premiere show of the movie in Kathmandu, I decided to watch the film and, if possible, write something about it.

If you compare Nepali films with Hollywood and Bollywood movies, you will find the former completely avoidable. Produced with comparatively low budget, Nepali films are poor in quality and other benchmarks. An average Nepali film’s standard budget is around Rs. 4.5 million (slightly more than US $ 55 thousands). Don’t compare our films with Hollywood and Bollywood flicks, Nepali film makers constantly warn reporters and other critics. Keep in mind, they say, Nepali film industry and its market is limited. “We are a very small industry and only lower class people watch our films,” said a Nepali film director recently.

Whatever they say, you can’t stop yourself from comparing. First, the theater (Shiv Darshan in New Baneshwor) was a mess. It was a disaster. How can you enjoy a cinema in such a dirty theater? Chairs were filthy and broken. Somehow I managed to get seated in one of those. They were kept in such a congested manner that I had to remain either straight or leaning forward all the time. If I leaned back, my knees wouldn’t get enough space and push the seat in front of me. Walls are dirty and torn out.

There are only three or four good cinema halls in Kathmandu where you find relatively good environment to watch cinemas. For example, Kumari and Jai Nepal are the most sophisticated and clean theaters in Kathmandu. Rests are like this one.

As soon as the movie Abhimanyu ran on the screen people started hooting sarcastically. Credit lines were displayed in reverse. “Oh saala negative po dekhayo,” someone screamed from behind. Then the screen went blank for a few minutes.

naresh poudyal director of abhimanyu Naresh Paudyal is the director of Abhimanyu Just in front of me was a lady with, I guessed, her daughter on her left and her husband on the right. It took me no time to realize that the ‘daughter’ was the actress of the movie: Arunima Lamsal. As the film got rolled, the family started talking. I was more interested in overhearing their chats and whispers than seeing the movie. Father and mother kept asking “where is this?” almost every time the location changed on the screen. Sometime they laughed on the comedy scenes. My impression is that father wanted to encourage his daughter who was playing in her sixth movie. Father, Bikarm Sharma is an auditor, I would learn later and mother Radha Lamsal was a TV actress.

The crowd in the theater was a disaster too. Folks were talking loud and every time the hero came to rescue his girl or kicked the villain, they would scream ‘ho, ho, ho’ and ‘ha, ha, ha’ and clap. Mobile phones were constantly ringing and chaps were talking in loud voice: hall ma chhu ma, film heri ra ko chhu. [I am in the theater watching a movie.] Oh… the conversation wouldn’t end on that note. It would be extended; the caller would laugh loudly responding to the person on the other side. You can’t hear the dialogue of the film properly.

The film sounds so unnatural, at least to me. It’s a paradox that people love to relate a work of fiction with reality they live in. I could easily see the research part of the movie was super flop. Do people use full and formal sentences all the time in their daily and casual conversation? I don’t and no one in my house or office does so.

Documentaries and non fiction films are gaining popularity in urban Nepal market recently compared to feature films. But the director of Abhimanyu, Naresh Paudyal, had a different argument. “We make films for mainstream audience,” he said, “not for the pseudo-intellectuals of Kathmandu city.” So that was his answer for the rising popularity of non fiction films in Kathmandu. He said the audience of such creations was very limited.

The show was over and oh boy it was a big relief. Why did I stay in the theater for the whole show? Because I saw story for my newspaper in the family conversation! I wanted to take their photo and talk to the parent of the actress Arunima Lamsal. That’s what I did and made a story.

[Here is the story that was published in yesterday’s Kantipur daily]

Indian Movie in Nepal: My Impression of Dhoom 2

Hritik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the movie Dhoom 2

Yes, the sizzling pair of Hritik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai is definitely HOT in the movie Dhoom 2 but the movie itself is not so much praiseworthy From the blog body: “Ash is definitely hot in the movie,” I wrote, “and she herself feels that in a scene when she asks ‘don’t you feel hot?’ to her ‘partner in crime’ while taking off clothes after stealing a sword from a museum.” I know Sunahari of Dhoom 2 isn’t the Paroo of Devdas.

I am talking about Dhoom 2. I had no plan to write this blog on the movie but the comment I got from Sudeep Shrestha, my colleague in the business bureau of Kantipur daily where I work as a reporter, this morning propelled me type these words. I wanted to write what I felt and I did just that in Kantipur. That was more of my personal impression of the film then a standard review. My opinion is that the film isn’t as good as everybody is portraying it to be.

Everybody is praising about Dhoom 2, including Sudeep, a great fan of Hindi movies and a keen follower Nepali film industry. He put the Dhoom 2 in the list of top three movies in the year: Rang De Basanti, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Dhoom 2. So far I have trusted his criticism of the movies and found him accurate in judging films. Be it in the technical aspect or the directorial perspective. This time I couldn’t. I enjoyed Dhoom 2 but didn’t find it to be one of the best movies of the year, definitely not one of the top three movies of the year. I think I am going against the tide by criticizing Dhoom 2. Let it be.

Hritik Roshan In the movie Dhoom 2

Hritik Roshan in the movie Dhoom 2. His dance is one of the major attractions in the film.

By taking the cop to Brazil following the thief the film poorly tries to expose the Indian ambition of wanting to become a global player. We know Indian economy is growing phenomenally and with that the Indian aspirating of becoming a global player is growing in the same rate. But the time hasn’t arrived yet that they can send their investigators around the world and run an operation. We have seen in Hollywood movies the American FBI running international missions in countries thousands of miles away from home. They are perfect and seem convincing given the widespread American influence around the world. But I found some flaws in the execution of that part in Dhoom 2. It doesn’t seem suitable.

Sudeep wrote in a Short Text Message: “Disagree. Who cares suhaunchha ki suhaunna [suits or not as long as] it entertains. [I am] not talking about bike chasing [which was better] in first part [but] Mr. A is high-tech thief who does miracles. Bollywood is doing great whether in RDB or D2. Do not expect realism in film.”

abhishek bachhan in dhoom 2 movie
Abhishek Bachchan in Dhoom 2

My other complain about the movie was lack of originality. The star cast lineup is great. The pair of blue eyed Hritik and Ash is superb. The dancing skill of Hritik Roshan is awesome. But the ‘originality’ ends here. For those who have seen Mission Impossible series, XXX or any Bond movies, Dhoom 2 constantly reminds them various scenes from the previously mentioned movies. That’s what I felt. Even Aishworya Rai’s much talked about blue bikini, I read in this website this morning, is copied from “the one worn by a popular UK model Keeley Hazell and featured in her official calendar”. How can you put this movie in the same list where Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munna Bhai are featured? RDB and LRMB are original stories or presentation from the Indian perspective. Nevertheless, the film is a total fun and a great time pass. I must admit I enjoyed watching it.

Okay, I have praised the Ash outlook through a quote in my Kantipur write up. “Ash is definitely hot in the movie,” I wrote, “and she herself feels that in a scene when she asks ‘don’t you feel hot?’ to her ‘partner in crime’ while taking off clothes after stealing a sword from a museum.” I know Sunahari of Dhoom 2 isn’t the Paroo of Devdas. Aishworya Rai’s glamour, which used to be hidden in long saris and make ups in the movies like Devdas or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is now exposed in Dhoom 2 where she wears short clothes and appears hip. The talk of her new outlook is the only thing that I feel is attracting audiences to theaters.

This blog was written on Tuesday, 28 November and was first published in the blog: Topics from 192 countries. Here is another impression of Dhoom 2 on Zade Xpress.

Here is what I wrote in Kantipur:

सुनहरीको जादु

‘फ्रन्ट स्टलको मात्रै छ,’ सोमबार दिउँसो राजधानीको जय नेपाल हलमा फोन गर्दा जवाफ आयो- ‘त्यो पनि केहीबेरमा सकिन बेर छैन ।’ सहरमा ऐश्वर्याको धूम छ र दर्शकहरू चलचित्र ‘धूम-२’ हेर्न हलमा झुम्मिएका छन् । हल हाउसफुल भएका छन्, गफमा ऐश्वर्या छाएकी छन् । ‘केटाहरूले झन्डै ढुंगा हानेका !’ बाराही मुभिजमा दुई दिनअघि उक्त फिल्म हेरेका एक तन्नेरीले भने- ‘टिकट नपाएर ।’ त्यति भनेपछि उनले सिनेमाका डायलग सुनाउन थाले, ‘ऐडा’ भनेको के हो अन लागे । ऐश्वर्याको प्रशंसा गर्न त के चुक्थे !

आफ्ना अघिल्ला सिनेमाका तुलनामा कम कपडा पहिरिएकी र वजन घटाएकी ऐश्वर्यालाई धूम-२ मा धेरैले ‘हट’ पाएका छन् । ‘डन्ट यु फिल हट ?’ साहसिक चोरीमा एउटा संग्रहालयबाट तरबार उडाएपछि कालो रङका कपडा उतार्दै उनी आफ्ना पार्टनर ‘इन क्राइम’ अर्थात् अपराधका मित्रलाई प्रश्न गर्छिन् ।

भारतीय प्रहरी एउटा शैलीवान् चोरलाई पछ्याउँदै ब्राजिलसम्म पुग्दा अकासिँदो आर्थिक वृद्धिदरसँगै पलाएको विश्वव्यापी बन्ने भारतीय चाहना फिल्ममा अप्ठेरो लाग्ने किसिमले झल्किन्छ । हलिउड सिनेमामा अमेरिकी अनुसन्धान संस्था एफबीआईले विदेशी भूमिमा गएर खोजी गरेको सन्दर्भले अमेरिकाको विश्वव्यापी प्रभावको प्रतिनिधित्व गर्छन् । धूम-२ मा पनि त्यस्तै गर्न खोजिएको छ, जुन कताकता नसुहाउँदो लाग्न सक्छ । हलिउडका टम क्रुज अभिनीत ‘मिसन इम्पोसिबल’ शृंखला हेर्नेहरूलाई कताकता त्यसको झल्को मिलेपछि धेरै दर्शकले ऐश्वर्या र हृतिकको जमेको जोडीका कारण फिल्मको शैलीलाई ‘कुल’ पाउने छन् । जोडी त जमेको छ नि, नीला आँखा भएका र सिनेमामा पहिलोपटक सँगै प्रस्तुत भएका दुई मुख्य पात्रको ! अब त्यो लजाउँदै गरिएको चुम्बनलाई पनि कसरी बिर्सनु ! नृत्यमा हृतिकलाई कसले भेट्टाओस् ! ‘कृश’ मा उडन्ते पात्रको भूमिकामा देखिएका नायकले यसमा पनि एक्सनप्रधान दृश्यमा क्षमता देखाएका छन् ।

मोटरसाइकल लखेटाइ सासै थमाउने खालको छैन तर त्यसबाट निस्कने आवाजले ‘थि्रल’ अनुभव दिलाउँछ । मुख्य कथा चोर-पुलिसकै हो तर बीचमा प्रेमकथा पनि छ, जसले दर्शकको संवेदनालाई समाउँछ । हलिउड सिनेमाका दर्शकलाई ‘धूम-२’ प्रयुक्त स्पेसल इफेक्ट खासै ‘कुल’ नलाग्न सक्छन् । त्यसैले ‘रंग दे वसन्ती’ जस्तो आफ्नै खाले कथावस्तु खोज्नेहरू यसबाट निराश हुन सक्छन् । फिल्म पक्का टाइम पास छ, कमै मात्र चिनिएका उदय चोपडाको पात्रले बेलाबेला हाँसो सिर्जना गर्छ ।

सञ्चारमाध्यमहरूमा स्त्री पात्रहरूको जतिसुकै चर्चा भए पनि तथा पत्रिकाहरूमा जतिसुकै ठूला र ग्ल्यामरस फोटा छापिए पनि भारतीय अभिनेत्रीहरू आपmनै नामबाट सिनेमा चलाउने हैसियतमा पुगिसकेका छैनन् ।

‘धूम-२’ को हकमा भने त्यो सोचमा हल्का परिवर्तन आएको देखिन्छ । यसपालि धेरै दर्शकले ‘ऐश्वर्याको फिल्म हेर्न जाने’ भनेको केही भारतीय लेखमा उल्लेख छ भने काठमाडौंमा ‘धूम-२’ बारे चर्चाहरूमा ऐश्वर्याको नयाँ स्वरूपले बढी स्थान लिने गरेको पाइएको छ । लामो सारी या प्रशस्त मेकअपमा ऐश्वर्याको ग्ल्यामर लुकेको छैन यो सिनेमामा । पारो र सुनहरूमा धेरै फरक छ । सुनहरी अर्थात् सुनौली केटीका रूपमा उनले आफ्नो छवि यसरी प्रस्तुत गरेकी छन् कि परम्परागत रूपमा ‘सेक्स बम’ मानिने पो पूरै छायामा परेकी छन् ! ऐश्वर्याको प्रशंसा या चर्चा उनको अभिनय क्षमताका कारण निश्चयै भएको होइन, केवल उनको बदलिएको छविको समाचारले दर्शकलाई फिल्म हेर्न प्रेरित गरेजस्तो देखिन्छ ।

फिल्ममै पनि एक ठाउँमा महिलालाई अनुभव गर्नै सकिने गरी पुरुषको तुलनामा कमजोर र असहाय देखाइएको छ । जस्तो- आर्यन (हृतिक) का तुलनामा सुनहरी राम्ररी बास्केटबल डि्रबल गर्न पनि सक्दिन, स्कोर गर्नु त परै जावस् । पुरुष पात्रलाई महिलाका तुलनामा त्यसरी अब्बल देखाइनुमा निर्देशकको उद्देश्य ‘हिरो’ लाई बढी क्षमतावान् प्रमाणित गर्नु हुन सक्छ तर ठ्याक्कै त्यही कुरा महिलालाई कमजोर प्राणीका रूपमा नदेखाई पनि गर्न सकिन्थ्यो ।

फिल्मका यस्ता अपुग पक्षले भने बक्स अफिसमा प्रभाव पार्ने देखिँदैन किनकि ऐश्वर्या कत्तिकी हट देखिएकी छन् भन्ने जान्ने चाहना सम्भावित दर्शकहरूमा अचम्मै पार्ने खालको छ । त्यसैले आउँदा केही दिनमा काठमाडौंका हलमा ढिलो फोन गर्नेले टिकट फ्रन्ट स्टलकै पाउने छन् ।

In A Nepal Monastery Ramon Magsaysay Jr. Talks About His Dad

[Here is another report on the visit of Magsaysay Awardees in Nepal]

ramon magsaysay jr in nepal

The senator son of former Filipino President talks about what it feels like to be a Magsaysay. Plus, hear him praising Gmail!! In the photo above, Magsaysay Jr. (right) is flanked by his son Francisco in Kathmandu’s Tilganga Eye Center. Pic by Dinesh Wagle

By Dinesh Wagle

“Many journalists have interviewed you,” this scribe started a conversation with Ramon Magsaysay Jr., the son of former Filipino President, in a monastery in Kathmandu and asked him to guess what my first question could be.

Without thinking much he said “Of course my impression of Nepal.” And without waiting for a follow-up question the 68-year-old Filipino senator rolled on: “It’s very positive. I see a lot of possibilities for Nepal that is facing challenges on peace, poverty and competitiveness in the globalized world.”

As he paused to breathe it was this scribe’s turn to shoot: “But I had a different question in mind. How does it feel to grow up with the brand name called Magsaysay?”

Seemingly puzzled, the man looked toward the horizon for a few seconds but quickly collected his breath and said, “It’s a deep honor.” Then the Senator briefly recounted his personal story fusing the past and present. “My late father started his public service during the World War II. I was a four year old boy. Fast forward to 2006. I am an old man, about to finish my second and last term in the Senate. Many a times I wonder am I being as good as my father or not quite up to him? With this question in mind, I just keep dong my best.”

ramon magsaysay jr in nepal

Photographer Magsaysay: Trying to capture Kathmandu from the Pullahari Monastary in Kapan.

Magsaysay Jr. was 18 when his dad died in a plane crash in 1957. He had no choice but to jump into politics to carry on the family legacy. While campaigning for a congressional post at the age of 27 in the same constituency that once elected his father, Magsaysay Jr. realized how much people wanted him to be like his dad. “People would say ‘oh your dad did this, you should also do the same; he wore wooden shoes, why are you wearing rubber shoes?’ Over the years I have learned to develop patience. Just respond them with a smile and accept whatever they say.”

Though he is a senator, Magsaysay Jr. is essentially a businessman, dubbed the “Father of Cable Television” in the Philippines for his role in setting up blueprint for the sector. Magsaysay Jr., a mechanical engineer by training and a graduate of Harvard Business School, finds it difficult to prefer politics to business. “Politics is interesting,” he said, adding, “You can have bigger and faster impact. But I also like business because your life is in your control. Profit and customer satisfaction are the key.”

Agrees Magsaysay’s son, Francisco, 38, who looks after Magsaysay Jr.’s cable business. “I will not join politics,” declared Francisco, who is in Kathmandu with his dad. “I am hoping to help out the country in a small way. I want to inspire the youth by proving that you don’t need to be in government to help your community.” He argues that politics has changed compared to that of his grandfather’s time. Francisco also shares with his father the experience of being a Magsaysay. “There is the pressure to maintain certain type of integrity,” said Francisco. “We have to conduct ourselves in a way that is commensurate with grandfather’s integrity. My father always tells me to remember grandfather.”

“Why even successful businessmen lunge for a political post?” reporter asked. “Business and politics are interlinked, aren’t they?”

“Yes, yes,” he said and told in detail how he was forced to pay ‘tax’ to the aides of former dictator Marcos when Philippines was under the marshal law. “They are. It helps if you have political connections.” Francisco shared this view but said he doesn’t like to pull political strings to promote business interest.

“Okay,” said Magsaysay Jr. and turned the table against this scribe, “Let me ask a few questions to you. What’s the situation of Internet usage in Nepal?”

This reporter explained him that Internet users, especially the young crowd, in Nepal were growing over the years, and in many colleges in city area you are considered unfashionable if you don’t have an email address. “My recent article about Gmail attracted more than five hundred invitation requests from readers,” said the reporter.

“That’s a very positive sign,” he said and added that increased awareness about technology would be helpful to advance society. Then he had some words of praise for the Gmail, “I also like Gmail because of big space and search facility. Let me give you my private Gmail account.”

[This article appeared in today’s edition of Kathmandu Post and it’s Nepali version in Kantipur]

Maoists Chaseout in Kathmandu

Visit this blog post to read more about these videos: Nepal Maoists and Democracy: From A Protest Venue

Video 1

Video 2

Nepal’s Polyandry Tradition: Young Men Don’t Want to Share Their Wife With Brothers in Kimathanka

LIFE IS a Journey. I have been to the far east and the far west regions of Nepal but have not crossed more than a kilometer of its international boundaries yet. Reporting is my profession. I get some opportunities to travel on assignment.

I still remember my October 2001 Kimathanka trip that also included visit to some easily accessible parts of eastern Nepal. It took me 6 days (of walking) to reach Kimathanka from Khadbaari, the district headquarter of Sankhuwasawa. This is one of the toughest trails and remotest destinations I have ever walked and reached. Shyam Prasad Niraula, a Khadbaari-based reporter with Kantipur, and a local guy named Chandra, who helped me by carrying my baggage, accompanied me in all those ‘difficult’ 10 days.
On our way to the village that borders China, we saw amazing landscapes and  hardships of Nepali rural life. We experienced local lifestyle and talked with members of a unique polyandry family. Read about that journey here along with the story of a polyandry family of Kimathanka.

Neighbors and nearby villagers have started making fun of men who share their wife.

Polyandry family of Kimathanka

Polyandry family of Kimathanka, Nepal.

By Dinesh WAGLE

KIMATHANKA: It was beyond their imagination. The fathers could not have  imagined doing what their son did. The oldest son of two fathers and a mother married two girls. The first marriage was already fixed as per the Nawa (a Sherpa cast) tradition of Kimathanka when both prospective bride and groom were kids. After a few years bride entered the groom’s house and gave birth to a daughter.

But Dawa, son of two brothers Chhindum Nawa, 38, and Rinjin Nawa, 35, and their shared wife Rishe Chyawa, fell in love with another girl. Dawa surely didn’t want to live like his fathers by sharing his wife with his brothers. Therefore, at the age of 20, Dawa fled to Kathmandu with his beloved. It takes 6 days of walk and a-day-long bus ride to reach the capital city from Kimathanka.

According to the information provided by his shocked fathers and mother who live in Kimathanka village of Sankhuwasabha district, Dawa “now works for a trekking agency in Kathmandu.” After her husband left her, the co-wife (first wife of Dawa) left the house as well. Now she lives in her natal home in the same village with their her 3-year-old daughter, the token of her relationship with Dawa that didn’t last long. (But Dawa’s first wife is still very loved in by his parents. They said: “We love her very much but what could the poor girl possibly do when her husband abandons her for another woman?”)

The polyandry tradition in Kimathanka and Ridak, the northern remote villages bordering China, is gradually vanishing. Dawa is not the first person from the same family to go against the age old tradition. Chhiring, 50, Dawa’s uncle (eldest brother his fathers) has married two wives. Chhiring has two sons and a daughter from his first wife, and two sons and two daughters from the second. According to Chhindum and Rinjin, their brother was “separated from the family when we were around 7 years old.” The trios themselves had two fathers.

nepalese sheep boy

Because there is no school in his village Hatia, near Kimathanka, this boy’s daily duty is to ‘study’ sheep. In this picture taken in the evening, he is seen leading his subjects back into the farmhouse.

It’s not unusual in Nepali society to see a man marrying two or even three wives. The infighting between/among sautas (multiple wives of a man) is pervasive in the society. Brothers too fight while dividing their parental property during separation. But, look at Chhindum and Rinjin- the two brothers who have been sharing a wife in Rishe Chyawa. You could feel that they are not just sharing a wife but also sharing their bodies, their hearts. They even share a pipe while drink Tongwa (home made alcohol). When I was in their home to have a cup of Yak milk on October 18th, both brothers were drinking Tongwa from the same pipe as their wife sat nearby. On her lap was an infant. Other five children were around their mother. Between them was the hearth.

They were speaking the local Tibetan language. The older brother told the younger: “Brother, drink some Tongwa.” The younger replied: “I am drinking brother, you also drink.” The 41-year-old Sherpeni (wife of a Sherpa, or rather two Sherpas!) who had been getting affection from two husbands was busy feeding her kids. She was giving them Tibetan tea- mixture of salt, ghee and yak milk.

(This family’s 18-year-old second son is a 5th grader in a nearby primary school. His further education is uncertain as there is no high school nearby. The nearest one is 6-days walk away, in Khandbari, the district headquarter. Fourth child Uchhen is 6 years old, a first grader. 13-year-old daughter Chippa doesn’t go to school. “There is no one in the house to work,” told one of her fathers. The 5-year-old Yunchhuk is the 5th child and Pema, the 6th is 3 years old.)

Chhindum hardly understands Nepali language. Rinjin speaks the national language fluently. After cleaning a glass very carefully and putting fresh Yak milk on fire, Rinjin said: “We two brothers are living with the same wife.” Finally he came to the topic I was trying to talk about!

This family has 22 hybrid yaks. The environment of Kimathanka, where snow falls only 3 months a year, is not suitable for the cattles. That is why the brothers take their yaks up on the hills- in the vast terrain of high snowy hills that could be reached from their home after walking for two days. Turn by turn, these brothers take care of the yaks in the shed. It’s time of snow fall in Kimathanka. After bringing down the yaks, both brothers were relaxing by sitting together on the leather of yak and drinking Tongwa in front of their wife.

If you give attentive ear to these brothers you will know that there are certain reasons behind the polyandry tradition in this village. The farming land is precious little, and production is very much less compared to the efforts for cultivating. If all brothers marry different women that will lead to separation of the family. That, in turn, will results in the division of land. That means less food production.

While one brother goes to the hilltop to rear yaks, another lives in home with wife. By that division of labor both yaks and home are taken care of. This makes life somewhat easier also. “You can even be rich living with a shared wife,” Rinjin told as he poured the hot milk in a glass. “Property has to be divided if you live with separate wife. This makes you poor and you cant have enough food to eat.”

Among the total 48 houses of Kimathanka, 15 are polyandry families. But in at least 5 families, men have multiple wives. Kimathanka Village Development Commeete (VDC) Chairman Rijjeen Sherpas’ house could offer a glimpse into the conflicting situation. Chairman’s first son, Kin Sang, and the third, Dawa, are sharing a wife where as second Pasang is happily living with his two wives.

“This is a tradition we have followed for ages,” said Mrs. Rihse in Tibetan. How does she feel about being loved by two husbands. “Who do you love the most?” I asked her. The answer could have been different if I had asked that in the absence of both or one of her husbands. My question made her shy.

“I love both of them equally. And, they also love me very much and equally,” she said.

As she said that both her husbands who were eagerly watching her as if they were kids smiled together. I sipped the yak milk and threw another question to her. “Who do you like more?” There was a quick response from Rishe that made her husbands’ faces shine. “Both men look similar, their faces look similar to me, their habits are similar. I like both of them equally.”

The appearance could be same only if looked from Rishe’s eyes of love. What I saw is the older brother had somewhat whitish complexion, he sported a ponytail that was tied by a red thread. Younger brother looked a bit overweight, sported mustache and had dark complexion.

Thanks to the polyandry tradition the population of Kimathanka has increased by only 10 person in last 10 years. According to the 1992 National Census, the population of Kimathanka was 303. This year’s census reveals the new number as 313. On the basis of population, Kimathanka is the smallest among 4 thousand VDCs of Nepal.

Polyandry is no more a fashionable thing especially outside the village. Residents of neighboring Nepali villages like Chepuwa, Chyamtang and Hatiya laugh at the polyandry husbands. Youths who have seen the world outside Kimathanka village think its shameful to share a wife with brothers. I asked a young boy of polyandry parents about the tradition. “No, I will never do what my parents have been doing. Sharing your wife is a shameful thing.”

In the polyandry culture the older brother is the head of the family. He is also the official father of the kids even if their biological father is his brother. For example, in the citizenship, the ‘father’ of the shared wife’s children is the older brother. House and land are registered in his name. Kami Nawa, Chairman, Ward No. 6., of the VDC said: “The mother decides which children belongs to which husbands if the brothers wanted to separate.”

A question related to this made the otherwise cool Sherpeni, Rishe who was had decorated her hair with a jasmine flower, somewhat agitated. “We are living now in harmony, there is no necessity of separation,” she said curtly.

“Why do you want to know about this? Who do you think you are to ask such question?”

Probably, she was right. The milk in my glass was already finished.

This article, translated from Nepali, was first published in Nepal Magazine.

Here are photos from my Kimathanka trip