Why I don't play ping pong.

We had a gentle weekend. Chinua is finally getting over his jetlag, and after some friends gave us ping pong rackets and balls, we decided to head down to one of the outdoor ping pong "tables" so Kid A and Chinua could play.

Of course, other people got involved as well.


I promise that Chinua and Kid A DID get to play together a little. But not without some pressure.

It looked like fun. But what was I doing?

I was finally trapped, is what I was. A man came over and started his sales work on me. He was selling posters of the Annapurna Range. I didn't particularly *want* a poster of the Annapurna range, but I was already feeling a little badly for him because I had overheard an American woman tell him that he was creating bad energy in the space by pushing her to buy something.

In her exact words. "Everything was fine until YOU created bad energy."

I'm sure he had no idea what she was talking about.

But his method was effective. He simply told me all about his five children and their school fees and how much it costs to pay for tiffins (packed lunches) and bus, and books (for five kids!) and how he is always trying to work, and how most guests feel to help (especially guests from Canada--his words) and before you know it, I was buying a poster. I'll put it in the kids' room in Goa, when we are far from the mountains. (We may as well be far from them now, for all the clouds will allow us to see them. Every once in a while we catch a glimpse, and we are falling over each other to get onto the back porch and ogle.)

YaYa also bought a tiny poster. And the boys all got free postcards, none of which were wanted, and none of which could be refused.

And THEN. Well, I had proved my susceptibility. There are many Tibetan women in Pokhara, who live in Tibetan settlements outside of the town. They walk around with backpacks all day, waylaying unsuspecting tourists with beautiful smiles. I've shrugged my way out of it too many times with "Maybe later, maybe another day..." I also look a little less susceptible than some of the clean and shiny trekkers, so I don't have such a hard time, but this is off-season, and this woman wasn't going to let me get away with buying a poster and NOT looking at her handicrafts.

(They weren't the best handicrafts I've ever seen.)

She kindly took some photos of me trying on various necklaces. And I bought one, a turquoise and coral one that I didn't hate. I didn't love it either, but she IS exiled.

But THEN. Then came this woman.


Who promptly started yelling at all the other Tibetan ladies because I had told HER that I would look at her handicrafts some day. I had told her SEVERAL times, I was HER sale. (I'm assuming this was what she was saying, I had to read all the signs, since I don't speak Tibetan.)

What, that lady? you say. DO NOT be deceived. These ladies can bring the smackdown.

So what could I do?

I had to take a look. Again.

And find another necklace that I didn't hate.

I left the area about $10 poorer, with two necklaces and a poster, none of which I hated. I hopefully helped with at least a couple of tiffins, and I fulfilled some obligations to the Tibetan community that I had apparently piled up.

And well, I'm going to learn to say 'NO."


A baby in the garden

Over the last couple of days a little lost boy has been coming to us.

He is from Russia. His mother believes she has found the solution to the struggle with her son by allowing him to wander. "He has his own journeys," she told me. "He goes and has his own experiences and people bring him back and sometimes he comes back on his own." She believes that fear is the only thing that will harm him. If she does not fear for him, he will be fine. That he is only a baby when he is with her. That when he is away from her, he is strong and capable.

He is nineteen months old.

I don't know how to describe how disturbing it is to find a year and a half old boy wandering by himself in the village, one shoe on and one shoe off. You can probably imagine it. 

The day before yesterday, our British neighbor found him in his yard and looked all over for his parents. Then he took him to a nearby restaurant and fed him... kept looking. All that time, no one came to find him. Through many questions from many different people, we figured out where he came from. 

Yesterday, when it happened again, the British man came to me saying that he couldn't do it again. I brought the little guy into my house and gave him a bath and some food. He didn't have any pants on and he had poo on his bum and leg. He was very thirsty.

When I took him back, about an hour and a half later, his mother wasn't looking for him. She expressed gratitude that I brought him back, but she also expressed her views about the goodness of his wandering ways. "He cannot be controlled," is what her friends told us yesterday.

These people are in the grip of this extreme idealism and strange thinking about spirits and the world. That this boy would be fine walking wherever he wants day or night because of their positive thinking? It is unbelievable.

I told her about the dangers. I told her that even though this seems like a small, safe village, people from all over the world are here, and this beach is known in India as a place where you can come to see naked people, bringing sketchy men from the get go. That we watch our children always. That even when we watch them, they sometimes get hurt, and we have had to go to the hospital twice. She told me that is because of my fear.

I told her there are open wells in the coconut grove.

I hope she heard me. I think I got through to her a bit. 

It may happen again, that the boy comes wandering through. We will continue to try to speak with this girl. The authorities here are very corrupt and not to be trusted with children, necessarily, so we wouldn't want to involve them.

If you are a praying person, maybe you could pray for this little boy's safety.