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.