National Geographic : 1965 Oct
KODACHROME(E) NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCILIY Ragged Shemba tribesmen butcher a yak. Considered "unholy," they alone may kill animals for food. Many of Mustang's people, however, eat the meat thus provided. Shembas may not live within Lo Mantang's walls, remaining a class apart. seen every village, and spoken to practically all the inhabitants. I had even started to feel like one of the Lo-bas, who consider washing an unhealthy, harmful practice. Dirt cakes children and adults alike. I realized that I, too, had not had a bath since I arrived. In my farewell visit to the Tsarang lama, son of the king, I found out that apparently I myself possessed many "disgusting habits." "Do you really eat chickens and fish?" asked the lama in disbelief. When I admitted it, he laughed at the joke. "I am sure," he said, "that you could not do such a revolting thing!" I never had the cour age to tell him that in France we even eat snails, frogs, and sometimes horse meat. Lo-bas avoid the killing of all animals, even rescuing flies when they fall into a cup of tea, and fleas are carefully plucked and thrown away alive. Buddhists consider killing as evil, because they regard animals as low reincar nations of human beings. Animal slaughter is a monopoly of the Shemba, a lowly tribe that kills the yaks, goats, and sheep eaten by much of the popu lation but never by monks. These Shembas, together with the Garas, a blacksmith class marked as unholy, are not allowed to live within the walls of the capital of Mustang. When a member of these lower orders enters a man's house, he must stay by the door bend ing low, his sleeve before his mouth. The last of my stores gone, I prepared to leave Mustang. I knew that beyond the great Himalayan range to the south the monsoon was building up. Soon heavy rains, landslides, and vicious blood-sucking leeches would end travel down the deep gorges of the Kali Gan daki toward the lowlands of Nepal and the outside world. The day I set out, the Tsarang lama gave me as a present a small Tibetan long-haired terrier. "Please accept this gift. Take the dog to your country," he said. Then he added wistfully, "Is it not strange that this dog will fly in a sky boat [an airplane] and see so many strange lands, while I remain here in Lo." SIX-MONTH INDEX As one of the privileges of membership in the National Geographic Society, members who bind their GEOGRAPHICS as works of reference will receive upon request an index for 604 each six-month volume. The index to Volume 127 (January-June, 1965) is now available.