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Mingmar Lama - Tsum Valley, Nepal - Nepali (Global Lives Project, 2013) Life Story Interview Part 2

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To describe about the house... I should start from this side because it's the place to keep the statues of God. And this one is... Carpenter from Chumchet made this seven years ago. These wood are also brought from there. That time it costs Rs 350 per day for the laborer. Wages! That's how it was made. Do you see that black thing...very old one? Just below that religious text book.. Is nearly two generations old. Actually, I didn't see it being made. According to my dad Newar from Kathmandu made it long ago. Those days... Newars used to be carpenters over here They mentioned to me about it. And this one is just three years old. A friend of mine from Chumchet who lives at Tharung Village. My buddy! He made this for me. Even the woods are from there. We don't have it here. These wooden frames are from here. From Larch tree. And these ply are made from Pine trees from lower Tsum. And... Also the rack for keeping copper water tank is made by the carpenter from Chumchet. We use a three legged stove. We used to cook on that. Now why we use this type. Just like you said, this won't damage the interior furniture. And also to ensure my wife is not affected by the smoke. We bought this from China. This is how these stoves come into use. As for our costumes, I am not fully dressed up according to our culture. We have our own shoes to our costumes. It's called Ngyatuk. And the trousers, mothers and wives make them. I am not wearing it now. And this is called Bhakku. Now I am like singers singing remix song. Ok. Like pop, rap...all fused. I have become like them. But since I was busy this morning I couldn't wear my trousers. I'm pretty upset about it. But I will wear them in coming days I will follow my traditions. Lets say... To understand how talented a female is, during her child's marriage, she should be able to give them clothes. People gossip saying that such and such wife gave seven Bhakus to her son! Ok! But that wife just gave only five Bhakus! This indicates how skillful she is. It's about the reputation of women. Life in a village means working in fields and gathering fire wood. We also have to help others. We exchange our work. If today they work here then I work at theirs on another day. Another thing is that we don't only work at our house. We have to work for others for bread and butter. For our children. For food and for clothes. We have to find a source of income. For me 100% of my income comes from yartsa gumbu. But it might not be the same for other people who works in an office. Because they get paid monthly. Salary! Harvesting yartsa gumbu is like a part-time job to them. But I totally depend on yartsa gumbu. Through my income from yartsa gumba I am able to support my children. There is no alternative income except from this yartsa gumbu. This season comes once a year just like the festivals. We can harvest as much as we can in one and half months. Our income depends on the harvest. Even we were able to harvest more but when we sell the trader buys it at a low cost. Whereas some people find less, if they are smart then they are able to sell it for a higher price. Let's talk about the history of when the harvest started. People have been collecting yartsa gumbu for 15-20 years now. And actually... In the past, we can find lots of yartsa gumbu but sold it at a cheap price. And now it's found less but we get a high price for it. According to our parents in the beginning it was sold at Rs 5! Per piece! Now... It's sold at Rs 700. The price has changed a lot. It's increased about Rs 695! For a piece of yartsa gumbu. In 20 years, the price of yartsa gumbu has increased a lot. During the season, Isn't there any domestic work in the village? Yes there will be. That's the period when we work on the fields. We have to weed the field. on potatoes...mustard... on wheat and buck wheat fields.. But like I told you earlier... What do we love? Money or farming? People will obviously go to the places where they can earn Rs 5000 per day. Who would work on fields! Most of the houses are locked and temporarily shift to the highlands. Some even take their dogs and hens with them. Cooking utensils as well. They carry their rations and move to highlands. Most of the house will be locked. During the harvesting season handicapped, elderly people, sick and dumb are left behind at the villages. Only some families will stay back to take care of them. All of them will leave. Except hens and dogs! Yartsa gumbu is available... from 3500 meter to 5000 meter high. Ummm... Sometimes it's found in easier places like flat area. And sometimes... we have to risk our life to find. like at the cliff side...It's found in places where we can fall down easily. And some places are such that we could spread our body and search easily. Searching for yartsa means like searching for a lost needle! I think you understood what I meant! It's very hard to find a lost needle, right? If we have an idea...to find a needle... we can use magnet like this, like this. But there's no technique like that to find yartsa. It cannot be found by doing mantra nor by the rituals from the priest. It can't be found by using magnet as well. Only if we see well, we can find yartsa. If not, then there’s no chance to spot it. That's why it's hard to find...OK. It's found hidden under the grasses, leaves and even under the snow if the snow is not melted. Some are found under the small bushes. I don't mean just right under. I mean it's hidden around it. Just like we look for lice in our head, we have to do like this...like this In a country like Nepal where there is not much opportunity for the job... whether you study business or engineer or have degree there's less chance of getting proper work. That's why our Nepalese brothers are compelled to go abroad for work. In foreign countries they are seen in dire conditions. Yartsa has benefited in such a way that... we can make lakhs in a month! What else is more beneficial than this? Even if someone works in office, they might make lakhs in a year only. But yartsa gumbu can make lakhs in a month! So I think picking yartsa is more rewarding. And also... to find yartsa in such a hostile place where there is no any other source of income is a big deal. Due to the harvest of yartsa, there is trashes all over the harvesting area. There's rubbish at the places where animals can't even reach! Listen! At the such places people throw plastic without thinking. There's one shepherd house. There are rubbish all over its surroundings. It might bring harm to yaks. They might eat the plastics and get sick! Some people bring alcohol in the bottle. Like hard drinks. They drink Rum but they throw the bottle. If it breaks, it might hurt yak's legs... OK! It might warm wild life. If they see us they run away. Can you tell us about the religious belief yartsa holds? OK...OK...OK. People talk about it but I think that... it's not a 100% sin to harvest it. Since it's called yartsa. It grows as a grass in the summer. We pick that. So we can't say its 100% sinful. Some extent this might be sin since it's also a living thing It's developed from living beings. We even say it's a sin to cut a tree! Because it's a living thing! There's a sin! For sure. But i can't say it's all a sin. Because it's a grass that we are harvesting! Just like picking mushroom. When it cost Rs 5, people says it's equal to killing a monk! These days when it cost from Rs 350-Rs 1000 People pick them. They forget the myth! If it's true then harvesting should be stopped. Then we should think alternative income source. The government and NGOs should take the responsibility. There are three types of Labrang. Except those families rest of all will. Unless they don't find, they'll pick yartsa like crazy. Even eight years old to... ...70 to 80 years old...I don't think 80 but 70 years old for sure will pick. People harvest yartsa as long as they are healthy. I am the only one from this house to collect yartsa. Because my wife has to stay at home... to look after three children. She has to look after fields too. Weed wheat, potato and mustard fields. That's why I am the only one from our house to pick yartsa. It's hard to forecast my income this year. —Pa, drink tea. Because we are still in the middle of the season. Buyers have not come yet. There must be snow at the border. So i can't guess of how much I will make this time. If one agent comes and gives me rates then I can guess my income to how much yartsa I have. And if I compare to last year...I think I could make two to two and a half Lakhs. Comparing to last year. cutie!....Stand up! Who hurt you? You want to sleep? Give me kiss! Tashi delek! Pa, can I put my toy in this bag? OK!

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 30 seconds
Country: Nepal
Language: Nepali
Producer: Rinzin Lama
Views: 118
Posted by: globallives on Nov 7, 2013

This is the second part of the Life Story Interview of Mingmar Lama, an on-screen participant of Lives In Transit from Bajjyo, Nepal.

This is part of a 24-hour recording of a day in the life of Mingmar Lama.

This video was produced by Rinzin Lama, Andrew Mahlstedt, Dawa Yakpa, Yog Shakya, Tenzin Norbu, Ravi Shrestha, Karma Ghale, Santa Bahadur Tamang, Arjun Magar, Tenzin Norbu, Thepe Tamang, Maila Tamang, Santosh, Jit Bahadur Gurung, and Kancha Tamang.

This video is part of the Global Lives Project, a video library of life experience.

For more information please visit globallives.org.

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