First things first, these people we stayed with should be a ‘normal’ farmer in terms of income, education, family size etc. The family consisted of a grandma, a husband and wife and three kids. Their home was actually quite ‘clean’ considering the circumstances. We arrived back at their home at around 5pm. The kids went out into the fields to collect wheat, and we helped grandma set the wheat out to dry. When dinner time came around, the host was extremely friendly. He brought home some small plums and three bottles of yogurt-drink from the town. The plums were okay, but the kids kept playing with them, rolling them around the dirt-covered floor, and just eating them without bother cleaning them at all…. We each had one just to be courteous….
When dinner time came around, the mother was cleaning the dishes that we left behind from lunch. I was quite surprised at the cleanliness of the place, until I realized that the towel being used to clean was blacker than my car cleaning cloth….ew. The host invited me to sit next to him at his “table”, which is really just their sleeping area with a small table. When I sat across from him, he smirked and said “That’s where the kids and woman sit!”. Rules rules rules. When I sat down next to him, he offered us the yogurt-drink. We kindly refused as we weren’t really in the mood, and we wanted to save some for his kids. So the snotty-kid turns out to be a fat kid, and pounced on our refusal as his opportunity to gorge on some delicious yogurt drink! Then he offered some to dad, and dad offered some to grandma, and grandma offered some to the other two girls. Note, Grandma has this crazy cough that is probably some sort of virus infection, but they really didn’t care about it! I think that’s where the kids got the cough in the first place…. It was as if one family member gets sick, everyone else would probably get sick as well. For one, for all?!?
They cycled the yogurt goodness back and forth around the family, but THE MOTHER GOT NOTHING. She was too busy cooking meals and filling tea cups, and actually didn’t even sit at the table with us but instead sat next to the stove. Then she cut up some watermelon for us. Again, the snotty-fat-kid jumps on the first piece. When he finished his watermelon (to the city person, the melon should have been finished) but his dad yelled at the snotty-fat-kid for leaving a bit of the red parts behind! Then, the dad proceeds to take this piece of 99% eaten watermelon, and passes it along to his wife. W T F?!?!? The CRAZIEST thing was, his wife was extremely happy she got that piece of watermelon!!!! I actually left the same amount of ‘red’ parts in the watermelon, so I felt obliged to pick it back up and eat into the white parts. I’m pretty sure if I offered that piece of watermelon to Bacon, he’d be pissed off at me… and I’m pretty sure anyone would be sleeping on the sofa for a week if they offered that to their wife.
For dinner, we also had some really good stewed rice with potato and Tibetan pork! I’m not sure if it was a combination of the hatred for yak-butter related foods, or that I suspect they used pork fat to make the rice, but it was just SO good. Then, when we finished our rice we laid our rice bowl on the table as usual, but making sure not to leave anything left. What I saw next was … startling … the little girls, literally, stuck their face into the bowls and were licking off the bottoms!!!! I am not sure if this is a combination of dislike for dishwashing, the meal being too awesome, or just out of pure habit (Correction: They do not wash dishes).
At the end of the evening, when everyone was full, and there was one last piece of melon left, the snotty-fat-kid wanted to eat it, despite being extremely full. Then, he thought about it again, and actually offered it to his mother! I’m not sure how to explain it, but she just smiled so brightly it made me really, really sad. Shit, isn’t that normal? Eating foods with the rest of the family? It is almost as if the hierarchy was the father, the children, grandma, the pets, and the mother… I’ve heard that Tibetan women have ridiculous amounts of work from sunrise milking cows, making butter, herding animals, making breakfast, lunch, dinner and whatever else necessary until sleep. Then repeat the next day.
After finishing dinner, the snotty-fat-kid just does a big yawn, and lies to sleep. Haha, even his dad said “Like a pig”. We chatted for a bit and got to know our host a little better, and finding it rather difficult for farming families to actually get themselves into a better situation. Definitely an eye-opening experience for us….. We scuttled back downstairs into the ‘basement’ room, and sleep cozily in our sleeping bags, both acknowledging the fact that we are very blessed.