Friday, June 22, 2012

Bibi and Polidi calling quit after 115 years union


Nothing last forever. Bibi and Polidi divorced after 115 years of marriage. (photo:
      Last week,  news went around the world about a pair of giant tortoises who are divorcing after living together in an Austrian zoo since 1897. The Austrian Times reported that after some nasty bickering, things degenerated between the two big turtles to the point that the lady turtle, Bibi, had bitten off a big piece of her husband Poldi’s shell. Was Poldi not able to satisfy her anymore? Apparently efforts by marriage counselors and even aphrodisiacs slipped into their food didn’t help.
     Tortoises like Bibi and Poldi usually live to be at least 200, which means that at the age of 115 Bibi is very likely in a hormone-induced midlife crisis. And that means that nothing Poldi can do or say will be the right thing, whatever he does will be wrong, and even the way he chews his food will be enough to make her want to bite his head off. So it’s probably a good thing that Poldi has moved out.  The zookeepers told the newspapers that Bibi and Poldi just couldn't stand each other anymore. I am just curious how many offsprings they might have produced if any, since the reports have not mentioned about this information.They both weighs about 220 pounds (100 kilos). Let’s hope for the best  for both of them.  

-Indra Tamang

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hermitage: Damphu Saanjh, 2010

Hermitage: Damphu Saanjh, 2010

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010 Damphu Saanjh, 2010 Posted by Indra's Corner Damphu Saanjh 2010 New York,USA After it’s establishment in 2001 by a handful of enthusiastic Tamangs living in New York, Tamang Society of America has grown into a full-fledged not-for-profit organization over the years. With the sole intention of preserving Tamang culture, heritage, and religion Tamang Society of America (TSA) have been organizing various cultural, social and sportive functions/events to bring together Tamangs inhabiting mainly in New York and vicinity. One of the indigenous inhabitants of Nepal who are mainly distributed across Himalayan regions, Tamangs are deemed as brave, honest and diligent group of Nepali people who has a long and tortured history of oppression and discrimination in the hands of the then ruling body consisting mainly of Brahmin and Chhetri castes, the disheartening aftermath of class system. They were refrained from actively participating in the mainstream social life only because they were given the lower strata of social class system by the then ruling system. They were deprived of the opportunity for formal education as well, owing to which they were forced to leave their homeland and wander away in search of work mainly to the neighboring cities of India. Despite their not very glorious background, Tamangs have come a long way in the present day to become a very self-sufficient and independent group of people who has fared very well, especially in the foreign-lands, where their honesty, bravery and diligent temperament have carve them a consistent niche. Tamang Society of America (TSA) is one of the many such examples of their integrity. Over the years TSA have touched the lives of Tamangs living in New York in one way or another. It’s effort have culminated into a very large membership in the Society and it has encouraged other Tamangs residing in the other parts of USA like Boston, Washington DC, Virginia, Texas, Connecticut, Montana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California and even in some parts of Canada. Their original cultural program ‘Damphu Saanjh’ organized every two years during the time of Tamang New Year has become a well-expected event for all the Tamangs living in the USA. Damphu is traditional Tamang drum. In tune with Tungna, accompanying string musical instrument, Tamangs perform their beloved Tamang Sello, their most original dance. Dampu Saanjh is maily nomenclature to denote that the Evening (Saanjh) with Damphu (the Tamangs traditional drum), or in other words the evening of merriment and joy. This years Damphu Saanjh was organized by Tamang Society of America on the inevitably freezing night of 6th of February – sorry, we can’t guarantee weather kind of dilemma. However, the venue, Dhaka Club in Woodside, Queens was brimming to the fullest. No one announced but it was like ‘early bird gets the best worms (in this case seats)’ kind of situation. People were standing even to the far end of the hall. And the best part of it was; everybody seemed to be enjoying. After the customary introduction and individual speech of Board Members and presiding special guest and present other guests, Damphu Saanjh kicked off with songs from our heartthrob singers duo Prem Lopchan and Roj Moktan. Tamang Society of America specially invited them from Nepal for this program. Audiences were dancing in the tunes of their jolly songs and some sad songs, especially sang by Prem Lopchan some audiences were even shedding tears, reminiscent of their beloved ones back home in Nepal. In the same manner, as his approach towards audience would tell, Roj Mokatan, more audience singer, was making everybody come near the stage and dance. In all it was an unforgettable night. Local Tamang kids did very well in their presentation of Tamang dances. Asmita Lama, Sabita Lama, Aayushma Lama, Zina Tamang, Alishesh Rai, Rhea Tamang performed a delightful dance in tunes of ubho, ubho lagyo. Ashish Lama, Siddhartha Tamang, Roshna Moktan, Dolma Lama presented another dance in tunes of amoil – a Tamang song. Alfa Lama, Sweta Lama (winner of teen beauty contest in Boston), Jenny Tamang and Nisha Gurung from Boston presented wonderful dance in tune of Nepali-mix number. Also Ashish Moktan, Anish Moktan along with Zina Tamang and Sabita Lama came up with another jolly dance number pani ma khane supari dana. However, most memorable is Jeny Yonjon from Connecticut. This plump little girl won the hearts of the audience by her solo dance in tunes of tikuli hai. She was so lovely and pert in her dance movements that looking at her was kind of melody in itself. At the later end of the program the melee changed dramatically. Phiroj Syangden took over the stage with his hard rock outfit, strumming his electric guitar accompanying thrumming of virtuoso drumming. Youngsters and even not so young audience enjoyed his Nepali rock songs very much. As Phiroj Syangden was already very popular through his rock band 1974 A.D. he pulled a real crowd at the end of the program and everybody seemed to enjoy his songs very much. This year’s Damphu Saanjh has some other unprecedented highlights as well. Never before in the history (even if short) Tamang Society of America, had any high ranking US official was invited or never before any Nepali singers invited from Nepal for specific Tamang Society of America programs had ever been granted visa to enter USA for their performances. President of Tamang Society of America, Mr. Indra Tamang seems very proud and contented and must have felt very useful to have accomplished all this during his tenure. During his tenure, Mr. John Liu, New York City Comptroller and Mr. Daniel Dromm, Council Member, Jackson Heights were present in the Damphu Saanjh program. They addressed the audience with words of encouragements and thankfulness to have been invited thus. Hopefully, this trend will be carried on during the presidency of upcoming presidents of Tamang Society of America as well because it is a very wise and brave step from Mr. Indra Tamang in introducing Tamang Society of America to America itself. Presumably, it might open new doors for the future of Tamang Society of America in USA. Many members and sympathetic individuals who helped selflessly to bring about Damphu Saanjh were duly award that night through the hands of His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya. In all Damphu Saanjh 2010 was a great success! by Kiran Singh at 10:11 AM Email This BlogThis! 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Monday, June 11, 2012

From the chaos of the city to the tranquility of Montana and back to the chaos, in one weeklong cross-country road trip.

 From the chaos of New York City to the tranquility of Montana and back to the chaos, in one weeklong cross-country road trip.

East Rosebud Lake of Montana

Back on April 6th, 2012, I set out with some of my family and friends to drive from New York to Montana. The purpose of the trip was to retrieve my mother, who has been visiting from Nepal. She had flown in March with my eldest daughter, Sunita, to visit the huge ranch where Sunita and her husband, Gyurme Sherpa, are caretakers. The ranch is called 'Switchback', and their job is to take care of it and its substantial greenhouse, where they raise organic vegetables. They have a nice house of their own, provided by their employer, where they live with their two children who are becoming real wild western cowboy kids. My mother spent a month there in Montana with them, and she had a wonderful time. I decided it might be fun to drive there rather than go and fetch her by airplane.
There were four of us starting out on the drive from New York; myself, my youngest daughter Zina, my wife’s uncle Keshar Rumba, and my cousin Shanta Babu Thokar. We left at night and drove to Maryland, where we slept at the house of Bishnu Lama, who is a cousin of my first wife who passed away in 1986. The following morning we got back on the road with Bishnu and her father, Sanu Kancha Lama and her mother, along with us. Sanu Kancha is somebody I have known forever. He was a very well respected elder in the village where I grew up. He was everything to everybody who lived there, and he was a great help to me long ago in 1973 or ’74, helping me get my documents in order for making my first trip to the United States with Charles Henri Ford. He’s someone who knows every politician from every corner of Nepal. He received a medal for social work from the late King Birendra. At the time of this trip to Montana, Sanu Kancha was in Maryland with his wife to visit their daughter and her family, and I invited them to come along with us. I was happy when he agreed. We were seven in all heading west from Maryland in my Honda Pilot.
Sanu Kancha Lama
We took the Northern route, through Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, on to North Dakota along the seemingly endless road to Montana. We saw countless abandoned houses along the way; we passed through little towns that were completely abandoned and others that looked to have been destroyed by tornadoes, although I can’t be sure that is actually what happened. Minnesota was full of lakes.
The first night we spent was in Illinois in "Motel 6". They kept the light on for us, just like the ad promises. The next day we drove almost 1500 miles thinking we’d make our destination by about midnight. We were already in Montana but still a ways from the ranch when I saw that we were almost on empty. I found a gas station but it was only open for self-service, with no open restrooms. While those of us who needed to answer the call of nature took refuge in the bushes and behind various trees, my cousin and I filled up the gas tank, using my credit card. Everyone got back into the Honda, we were all tired but feeling good thinking about the destination, which would be coming in just two short hours. About half a block from the service station, the Honda suddenly died. We were in the middle of nowhere in Montana, with nothing but the sound of crickets all around. The new car was dead. I had no choice to call for a tow truck in Billings, 45 minutes away. Once our car was safe in a garage parking lot, my son-in-law, Gyurme, drove the two hours from the Switchback Ranch to fetch us. We finally arrived at 4 AM, and we had what was meant to be dinner. We ate and slept and then morning came.

Family Picture with mountain views of Montana
My daughter and son-in-law took us sightseeing, and it was beautiful. We looked at beautiful mountains, rivers and snow. There were many deers of different kinds. My son-in-law told me that some deers are not hunted because their meat isn’t considered tasty enough, which is lucky for them. We took a lot of photographs and my mother wanted to be in every picture. She seemed to enjoy everything she did and saw, and at her age, which is 80, she is enamored of all new gadgets; the digital camera, the cell phone and the TV. She liked Montana. Considering what my mother’s young life was like in the village in Nepal, all of these things—traveling in airplanes, mobile telephones, GPS in the car—are nothing short of miraculous.
This was Sanu Kancha’s first trip outside Nepal, and he and his wife experienced just how huge this country is on our trip. Driving makes possible what flying hides: the true experience of distance. Everywhere we looked there seemed to be endless land stretching to infinity, and we all enjoyed it completely.

We had arrived at Switchback Ranch in the middle of the night on Sunday, or very early Monday morning. On Tuesday, my daughter Zina, my son-in-law and I drove back to Billings to retrieve my repaired car. I drove it back to the ranch and the next day, Wednesday April 11th, we all said goodbye to my daughter Sunita’s family. With eight people now in my car, including my mother, we set off on the long drive back to New York after two whirlwind days in Big Sky Country.

Family Picture with Mount Rushmore on background 
We drove through Wyoming and South Dakota, making a point of visiting Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. Rushmore looked smaller than it does in pictures. Zina read all the plaques, about the man who created it, and how it took something like 14 years for him to finish the four faces, and then he died. We all liked it. I thought about how whether it was intended or not, because of that one man’s inspiration to create those presidential faces in the rock of the mountain, the state of South Dakota has a lucrative tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere, forever. People make pilgrimages there, and a lot of money is made on that tourism. We had a whole house to stay in that night, called "Lincoln", which was part of a hotel. We had a beautiful view of Mount Rushmore from that house.
Mount Rushmore on South Dakota
Thursday, we made it all the way to Illinois or Minnesota. I played Tamang music the whole way, and we all like it, so that was our soundtrack. We stopped to eat at gas stations and truck stops for sandwiches and whatever we could grab. We stayed in a motel that night. By Friday night we were back in Maryland at my friend Sumitra’s house for dinner and then her birthday cake. Her husband, Keshab, served us drinks and we were all exhausted.
The next day, after spending the night, Sumitra’s mother, Patali maya, Zina and Pancha maya my wife Radhika’s Mitini, or best friend, drove with my cousin Shanta and me back to the chaos of New York City and home.

Our chariot, Honda Pilot, which made our trip possible
The best thing about our trip was the weather. It was perfect. It cooperated completely, except for the wind in Northern Minnesota, where you have to keep both hands on the steering wheel or you’ll blow right off the road. My cousin and I each got one speeding ticket. He got one while making the trip and I got one while returning. Mine was written out by a sheriff in a Stetson hat. I told everyone in the back to be quiet as he came up alongside the window. It was out west somewhere, and he added a little bit of a Clint Eastwood moment to our trip. I liked the trip, but I was glad to be home.

-Indra Tamang
June 11, 2012