Thursday, March 22, 2007

Take a Guess...

So what is this item in this photo?

I wanted to save this post until after we had some good news to share. This incident involving this item occurred a day or two after Manju arrived, when there were only she and Pratima living in the house.

I had been in the commerical district at a cybercafe doing work when I took a cab back to Sam's House to meet up with Dinesh.

When I arrived, Dinesh was sitting in the middle of the playground in a wicker chair, engaged in conversation with a young man and woman who sat facing him. The young woman was doing most of the talking. They were both good-looking and appeared to be college-aged or slightly older. Pratima and Manju were playing on the swings. The didis were inside the house.

Normally, because he is always polite, Dinesh calls me over to introduce to people. But this time he didn't, and not wanting to interrupt, I walked on to the swingset to play with the girls.

They sat in discussion for another 15 minutes. I looked over occasionally, my interest growing more keen by the minute. It looked like a serious conversation.

The young man and woman stood up to leave and they handed Dinesh the slip of paper that is in the photo above. They were members of the Maoist party having come to solicit donations for their upcoming political rally.

Dinesh said they believed we had the capacity to donate, a sentiment only strengthened, I'm sure, when my white face came strolling through the yard. Dinesh told them that any money the orphanage had was for the children and no one else. He made a donation, but told them it was his personal donation and not a Sam's House gift.

So, the item you see is a Maoist receipt. I thought some of you would be interested because it's become a rather curious act--the Maoists handing out receipts. There have been many stories of western trekkers being stopped on the trail by Maoists who ask them to pay a "tax." In proper governmental fashion, the soliders write out a receipt for the travelers.

It should be noted, however, that their solicitation for a political rally donation is not unprecedented. In fact, Dinesh told me, other parties will do the same thing. But I'm guessing that Dinesh felt a little more pressure to donate to this group rather than other parties he wouldn't support.

Sam's House sits next to a gate that leads into the local university. Many college students pass by each day and many of these same students have been attracted to the Maoist party, successfully wooed by the Maoists' promises to redistribute wealth and rid the country of corruption. I don't think there's any need for us to worry, but seeing westerners coming and going from Sam's House may make us a target of future solicitations.

Incidentally, Dinesh gave 100 rupees. If you enlarge the photo, you'll see what appears to be "900." The Nepali 1 looks like our 9.



Sheila said...

Damn, that's got to be a bit off-putting. How lucky to have such a level-headed director in Dinesh.

John said...

Perhaps a deterrent: the next time the Maoists stop by, Dinesh could casually mention that if they don't shape up, he'll ask his American friends to bring democracy to their country. That ought to settle that.