25 January continued
Larjung, Mustang
Mount Ice View Lodge & Restaurant

Took a warm shower, but not in my bathroom, for which I paid an extra rs. 175. When I came down for dinner for warmth; what appeared to be an extended family had congregated there. I immediately felt uncomfortable and left. Settled in to the dining area of a large room, which had a large table with a heater under it, for appetizers and rakshi. Lal assured me that the meat with cooked onions appetizer was really yak, because it is against the beliefs of the Thakali people who live in Larjung to eat buffalo. Also had a plate of small sliced onions and veg pakoda.

In the area adjacent to the dining table was a TV watching alcove partitioned off by low couches at right angles. A man who I mistook as the owner was watching Just For Laughs, a show sort of like Candid Camera. An old crone was walking around carrying a 17 month old on her shoulder blades, using a blanket to hold him on. From time to time she would feed him, or briefly burst into babbling. Other family members would use hand gestures to herd her around.

The two cups of rakshi put me in the mood to watch TV also, so I sat on the couch at right angles to the one the man was sitting on. A small cylindrical charcoal heater had been placed in the alcove for warmth. The man was a practitioner of Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion of Nepal that worships spirits, nature. He had been taught by strict Jesuits at a boarding school in Kathmandu, and now works in the construction business. He was in Larjung for the ancestor-worshipping aspect of his religion. His family, clan, has a shrine. When a member of the family dies, after cremation a piece of bone has to return to the shrine and be put in a mausoleum or vault. As generations pass, the shrine and mausoleums become full. When that happens, different branches of the family have to build new shrines. He was in Larjung on behalf of his family to oversee the building of a new shrine; he had been staying at the Mount Ice View Lodge for two weeks, and would stay another two weeks. When it is done, a shaman will perform a ceremony. His brother, who works in the animation field in California and lives a simple lifestyle with no furniture except a bed and computer table, will participate in the ceremony, as will an uncle from England.