Travelers Tales 7

They were the sweetest family.They broke your heart. Tibetan. Grandmother,daughter and husband and their three children  living in in three rooms in a tenement block near Buddna Town ,Kathmandhu. The flat was clean. The kids totally fluent in English and bright as buttons. As Tibetans they cannot  because of their demi status  get well paid jobs and are  exploited. The Nepalese say its because they wont take out full nationality. The Tibetans say they are not allowed to. Whatever  To my lasting shame  after a couple of meets I gave them only £40. Why not £1k?

When I asked why they had come to Nepal the grandmother said they had to come in 1970 because the Chinese had killed one of her husbands.  One of her,what? Was this some kinky Mormon cult which worshipped the moon. Did I not understand. It does happen.

No fraternal polyandry is/was common in Tibet  Among the land owning peasants it allowed the family to keep the property intact. Which allowed them the means to pay taxes and retain status in the desperately feudal system which ruled with every weapon in the arsenal of superstition, ritual and traditional custom.. It was also a way of keeping her population down. In a poor economy it also allowed  two males  per farm.

It also allowed one brother to go away to trade and tend the flocks while the other stayed at home(and tended Mama). Although the elder brother ruled the roost both had equal  sexual rights and there was no discussion of patertinity or whose  children  were who. As for divorce all a brother had to to was  walk out. Of course that meant walking out on the family… and how could one walk out on the only social formation that offered any comfort in a tough feudal world.

Another society which also went for the two guys for every girl system are the Toda in the Tamil area of  India. Here these  buffalo worshipping dudes certainly  succeeded in the  both control aspect of the system  since the Toda population has never risen above 800. But are the girls happy? We Guardian readers have a right to know.

I asked the fragrant one with whom I share my life would she like two husbands? She replied, “One is bad enough,I’d rather be single.” How she jests, how we laugh.

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2 Responses to Travelers Tales 7

  1. Nick, brother of the author (but not co-husband), and expert on Canadian polygamy law says:

    Very interesting and astute. Polyandry is very rare compared to polygamy, but as you note it has functions in very harsh conditions where keeping the population low is desirable. As you note, as soon as things get a bit better, one of the brother – husbands may leave.

    On a personal note, I speculate what my wife Martha would say if I asked if, after my demise she would contemplate being a second wife to my brother Hugh. A likely response: “I would rather join you as dead, but if anything happens to Hugh, I may just go across the pond and live with the wonderful Viv!” 🙂

  2. itwonthurt says:

    My brother Esau is an hairy man, but so cuddly.

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