Haku Patasi is the name for the black-and-red sari of Newari women

 

I already own a singing bowl, all the Thangkas a man could ask for, and every small gift item you can think of. When I teach, the students give me these “tokens of love.” When I want to bring a present to my daughters, they expect something unusual. I can’t just send a postcard and call it good.

If you have visited Bhaktapur, surely you must have seen women wearing this outfit, even when they are just doing chores of daily life.

Or, perhaps just enjoy this video:

I wanted one. Not for myself. I wanted a special gift for people in my life. I’m very particular about things I bring back to USA. They can’t be run-of-the-mill souvenirs. Need to have some sort of provenance.

Here is another video. For this one the tune is a classic folk song; the visual component shows the weaving process for the Haku Patasi cloth. Simply wonderful!

 

The Newari-language name is “Haku Patasi.”

I never saw these for sale, so I asked around among my Nepali friends. They sent me to Ason, in the heart of Old Kathmandu south of Thamel. ( well, specifically, Indra Chowk).

Here is yet another video, the tune is titled Haku Patasi” – so – it’s nakkali!

What’s not to like? first, the woman shows classic Newari beauty. Next, the guy has a wonderful singing voice; finally, the scenes of Newari women’s culture are stunning.

I needed to ask around, but ultimately a guy brought me to this shop:

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The shop is on the second floor, the sign is below the one for Star Tailors

Typical of such shops, you can have a seat while they show you many samples from which to choose.

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The selection in this shop focuses on hand-woven items made of  Nepali-grown cotton. The fabric has a wonderful feel to it.

IMG_20160810_153417Note: the blue-and-white checkered cloth is for a lungi a man would wear. .The fruit-sellers with the bicycles full of bananas usually wear this. I always wondered where they got this – now I know! (600 rupees if you have to ask).

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And above, are some typical waistband cloths. If you are observant when you go out in the morning to buy vegetables, you will notice many of the women wear these.

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I also got the red and  white shawl to accompany the Haku Patasi, he showed me how they wrap it. here is first step.

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Turns out that Haku Patasi is just one of many Nepali textiles still in daily use in Nepal. You can get them all in the shop pictured above.

Here is video showing the above.

The Tour

I need to do a separate blog on the subject of Palpali Dhaka. Many shops at street level sell Dhaka, focus on Haku Patasi for now!

Below, is a ten-minute tour of items in the shop:

and the business card for this particular shop:

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He waved good bye from the window when I left.

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I recommend this place if you are looking for something that is closely tied to Newar culture. It’s common for young girls to have the child-sized version of the same outfit, and they sell these too, readymade. I did not photograph one, though I should have. They can help you order a “cholo,” the double-breasted jacket, in the traditional pattern.

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meeting the #Nepal fans of the novel, Sacrament of the Goddess March 12th

Meeting the fans of The Sacrament of the Goddess in #Nepal

One of the joys of being an author is to talk with people who have actually read your book, and this has been happening for the past few weeks in #Kathmandu. I teach critical care skills to nurses and doctors, and in some past sessions a few nurses bought the book. I’m told it’s been laying around at one of the bigger hospitals in Kathmandu, and as you might expect, many people share the same copy. ( it would be great if they bought their own, but – this is almost as good!)

Small talk about literature

At some point during a class break, somebody comes to me, grinning, and tells me they’ve read it.

I love this. we talk about their impressions.  Now, I’m biased, but – people have enjoyed the plot, they have found the book to call forth their emotions at certain passages ( which is good, because that was what I was trying to accomplish with my writing) and they ask questions.

Culture

Probably the most common question is -” You got it right in terms of depicting Nepali Culture. How could a foreigner know so much about Nepali culture?”

I am flattered by this. Here is my answer. I observe and I ask questions. Also, I studied a lot of books written by anthropologists, and I used some quasi-anthropological techniques to research the book. But most importantly, I was fortunate to have a number of “beta-readers” who were Nepali. These persons were given drafts to read and to comment upon, much like the model of “beta testing” used in the computer software industry. I got their feedback and made changes along the way.

Levels of culture?

On one level, culture is about food, religious ritual, costumes, setting. Those are the easy things to describe. Just like a travel guide.

I wanted to dig deeper.  How does a  particular cultural background influence such things as emotion, family relationships, or even clinical decision-making, in  the case of a doctor? How might this impact life choices made ( or not made!) by a young woman?

So, while the beta readers looked at specific cultural things ( where the brakes on a pedicab are located, for example) it was more important and valuable to me when they gave feedback about the plausibility of certain social situations. When things go bad, how does a particular person pray? (or not pray…) For example, the romance between the two main characters, one American, the other – Nepali. Or, when a mother and a daughter argue with each other. Or when a man talks with a woman co-worker.

Medical scenes

Most if not all of the medical scenes are based on actual events I witnessed or was a participant in during the five trips I took before writing it.

At the time of the 2013 trip, I had what I thought was a finished draft. Then I was on the lookout for ways to make the novel come alive. My Nepali friends were kind enough to allow me one step closer in their lives. For example: the woman named Sushila is a composite of three different women I know, each of whom is devout. I interviewed each one about the family “Puja Room,” and realized that if I described the way this serves as a refuge, it would add a potent dimension and insight for the reader. When I got back to Honolulu I edited and revised, with my new insight.

more on this later.  For now,  a quick reminder that The Sacrament of the Goddess is available at Tibet Books on Tri Devi Marg, or at Vajra Books on Jyatha in Thamel.