Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths among Nepal's Yolmo by Robert R. Desjarlais

By Robert R. Desjarlais

Robert Desjarlais's swish ethnography explores the lifestyles histories of 2 Yolmo elders, targeting how specific sensory orientations and modalities have contributed to the making and the telling in their lives. those are a girl in her overdue eighties referred to as Kisang Omu and a Buddhist priest in his mid-eighties often called Ghang Lama, contributors of an ethnically Tibetan Buddhist humans whose ancestors have lived for 3 centuries or so alongside the higher ridges of the Yolmo Valley in north important Nepal.It was once transparent via their many conversations that either contributors perceived themselves as nearing dying, and either have been particularly keen to proportion their options approximately dying and death. the variation among the 2 was once awesome, even though, in that Ghang Lama's existence have been ruled via motifs of imaginative and prescient, while Kisang Omu's bills of her lifestyles mostly concerned a "theatre of voices." Desjarlais bargains a clean and readable inquiry into how people's methods of sensing the realm give a contribution to how they reside and the way they don't forget their lives.

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Sample text

He told us on several occasions of the troubles he had had in those days: he had worked terribly hard; he had toiled in the rain and cold; he had traveled long distances barefoot; he had worn tattered clothes; he had carried heavy loads; and then, when his first wife died, he had struggled alone to maintain his lands and household. ” The word contrasts sharply with the “happiness,” “joy,” or “comfort” designated by the word kyipu in Yolmo (sukha in Nepali). To say he had a lot of dhukpu in life was to hold that he had faced a lot of hardships and had done a great deal of hard work.

There was kindness and amity in his eyes, a gentle appreciation, it seemed, of the sight before him, and a slight smile curved around his lips. His eyes, a rich, dark brown, seemed to welcome and engage me through a communicative link established with the gaze itself. I have to say that I was a bit unnerved by this. I smiled back, but I did not really know how to respond to the steady gaze sent my way, so I looked away, took a sip of tea, and began to chat with Dawa again. No doubt the look’s uncommonness in my life explains why I remember it still.

To say he had a lot of dhukpu in life was to hold that he had faced a lot of hardships and had done a great deal of hard work. Whereas other families faced worries over money and sometimes wanted for food, what troubled him and his wife most, he said, were hardships of the body: heavy loads, tired muscles, sore feet. “Money was not a problem for me, at least. Even if we didn’t have money, we could eat. What troubled me more 38 H A R D S H I P, C O M F O RT was dhukpu of the body. . That’s to say, we often had to carry things, to travel in order to buy things.

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