27 April 2014

“Y” is for Yak blankets from Nepal

So here we are, at the penultimate post in the marathon A to Z thing. There is many a “Y” word to choose from and the letter “Y” is sort of a word itself. It is a chromosome actually.

It is a sex thing.

Steady people - I am not going to write about sex - although I could.

My mum wouldn’t like it though and would carry on for days about it.

Wouldn’t you mum?

I should say that the “Y” I am referring to is a gender or a genetic thing.

I will say it in fact.

It is a gender or a genetic thing.

I am no scientist or genius but I do know that the “Y” chromosome is only present in men. We blokes have one “Y” chromosome and one “X” chromosome and girls have two “X” chromosomes. It is the “Y” chromosome and loving or hating shopping and watching the football and leaving the toilet seat up that differentiates the sexes.

Chromosomes are itsy bitsy pieces of protein and nucleic acid material that are found in the cells of all living animals. They are the genetic information that defines who are or what we are - and breeding passes them on.

So it is a sex thing.

But I am not going to write about it.


I have pretty much forgotten about sex - the type that is used when breeding – or simply for pleasure. I quite like it and I am pretty good at it but I can’t remember the last time I actually had any.

Sex that is.

But I am not going to write about it.

Chill out Mum.

I just thought I would mention it.

The letter “Y” is of course phonetically identical to the word “Why?” which is blatantly obvious to any one who is literate. If you weren’t literate then you wouldn’t be reading this so that is also blatantly obvious.

I am often afraid to re-read what I write as much madness continues to engulf and consume me.

I think it is the incessant heat of Singapore.

It could be something in my chromosomes though.

Thanks a lot Mum and Dad.

“Why?” would have been a most excellent topic for writing about something. I could have asked, “Why is there so much inequity and injustice in the world?” “Why are some of the elderly neglected and abandoned by their families here in Singapore – to the point where they are reliant on charity to feed them?” “Why are so many people mean and nasty and selfish?” “Why can’t we all just live in peace?”

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“Why” is not a “Y” word though so I can’t use it.

I could have written about ‘You’ – which is a “Y” word.

Fuck I just did it again.

I pointed out the obvious.

However to me the fact that ‘You’ sounds like ‘U’ – which I have already written about – dissuaded me. My ‘U’ post was entitled “’U’ is for Unliked” It was a commentary of the Facebook phenomena.

Also I don’t really know who ‘You’ are anyway.

I don’t really know who I am sometimes either.

I am still working that one out.

I contemplated writing about ‘Yesterday’ but I didn’t really do anything very exciting then. Also Paul McCartney penned the song “Yesterday” in his Beatles days - and while I quite like the song, his post Beatles band Wings were dreadful and I find his penchant for one-legged women to be an abomination.

I did see some youngsters and yellow things and I exchanged some emails with some dear friends of mine who live on a yacht. They are all nice “Y” words. My friends on the yacht have been sailing around the Pacific Ocean for five years now. They are just drifting about the place and having a ball.

Hello Craig and Robyn.

Happy sailing dudes – and stay safe out there on the ocean.

I hope you are well.

I hope that you are happy

I thought very seriously about writing about Yin and Yang but after a bit of contemplation I dismissed it. All that Yin and Yang really is – is some ancient Chinese philosophy shit that means opposite forces in life are interconnected and they cancel each other out. It is a concept that is sort of interesting but I couldn’t be bothered with philosophy or deep thinking today.

I might have yesterday but I am tired and my head hurts.

So I thought I would write about Yak blankets from Nepal – and the time we sold them at a fundraising thing for a charity I am involved with. There were a few stalls selling stuff for their respective charities that day but ours was the only one selling Yak blankets from Nepal.

The charity I am involved with is called the Future Village Foundation and we build little schools – or rather we add classrooms to existing ones - and we install renewable energy systems in them. We also support the education of lots of little children who come from very remote parts of the Himalaya – high up in the mountains of Nepal.

I have been going to Nepal for many years now and I have always loved Yak blankets. For the charity thing I ordered and had delivered to me at my office five hundred of mixed coloured Yak blankets from Nepal. They very all soft and beautiful and were in bright and beautiful hues.

I spent most of the day at the Yak blanket stall – first of all setting it up and then assisting with manning it. I was manning the stall mostly with women.

Strange huh and I would think politically incorrect in these day and times too?

I should have been “womaning” it.

This word “womaning” has been rejected by the fucker auto-correct function on my Mac and I have now had to ‘add it’ to rid myself of the red underscoring.

I hate the red underscoring.

I have for years been bringing Yak blankets from Nepal back to Australia and Singapore as gifts for my friends and family.

All of the women in my family that I love adore them. 

They really do. 
I have quite a few Yak blankets draped around my apartment in Singapore and in my house in Australia as well. They add colour to the place and they brighten up my often dull and mundane existence. At this event our little stall was raising money for the school program that we run in the village of Katunje in the Dhading district of Nepal. This is high in the majestic Himalaya mountain range.

Say it “Kar-tun-jay”

Say it “Dar-ding”

We volunteers at all of the charity stalls were standing up for the entire day. I don’t know why there weren’t any seats.

It was very hard work. 

I was very footsore by the end of the day. 

I was battered.

It was nice however to be surrounded by people doing good. There were very kind and pleasant people from ten other charities there and my work colleagues supported them all in some way.

These are altruistic people. I like the word 'altruistic' and I like the concept too. These people give their own time to help others less fortunate than themselves. We should all do more of it. Goodness rubs off I think. I am a believer in karma and the general concept of doing good upon others.

My parents taught me this I think or perhaps it was just passed on in the chromosomes I inherited.

However I believe that what goes around comes around. 

Hakuna Matata.

I am definitely not a salesperson though. It is not my forte. I think perhaps I am a little too frank and my brutal honesty needs to be curbed. A number of people who came to our stall asked silly and ridiculous questions - well they seemed silly to me.

In return I gave them honest answers - possibly a little too bluntly - but it is what I do.

I don’t believe in dishonesty or fucking around.

The majority of the people who bought our blankets and who asked silly questions had never been to Nepal so they knew very little about what life is like over there.

It is tough.

It is harsh.

It is one of the world's most impoverished nations.

On a number of occasions people asked me unusual things - with genuine concern.

"Were these blankets made using child labour?"

I was asked this many times during the course of the day.

"Of course they were" I replied.

"Why do you think they are so bloody cheap?"

There was mostly nervous laughter and the odd blank stare in response to my reply. “Was he being serious” was ticking through their blank little minds?

I was.

I am.

Families support each other in Nepal. Assistance in putting food on the table is a Nepalese child's responsibility to the family. A close team effort is required for the daily struggle for survival. The gentle and mostly Hindi Mountain People of Nepal love their children though. 

They love them deeply. 

They love them dearly. 

As they should. 

Anyway our charity tries to help a bit with education and creating opportunity but we are small potatoes and we are definitely not miracle workers.

Even more annoying was the more often repeated enquiry, "Were any Yaks harmed in the making of these blankets?"

This is true. 

I am serious!

"Absolutely" was my retort.

I told them, "Yaks can be large, unruly and dangerous beasts. They are formidable. They won't just roll over and let you cut their shaggy hair. The Farmers shear their wool by hand. The Nepalese have to beat the fuckers into submission for shearing".  

I received more stunned looks. 



This is not really true and I am obviously not really honest all of the time – just most of the time.

I thought I would throw that one out there for my own amusement. 

The Yak is formidable in size only. It is otherwise quite a docile and harmless creature. The Yak lives at very great heights where the oxygen is thin and all movement is slow. It is very cold at such heights - which is why Yak wool is so thick and luxurious.

The Nepalese Mountain people also make cheese and yoghurt from the Yak's milk. I have eaten both products many times - with mo-mos. These are Nepalese dumplings. They are delicious. 

Really delicious.

We were selling these Yak blankets very cheap. They were $25 each – that is in Singaporean dollars. We saw that they were sold ‘on-line’ in the UK for more than forty pounds and in the US for $80!

They are not easy to get.

I have a Yak blanket dude in Kathmandu and I get them cheap when I buy in bulk.

As the day went on and my patience frayed - when people asked me how much they were - I was quoting one for $25, two for $60 and three for $100. 

Ten for $500! 

Some people saw the humor. 

Other suckers bought it.

Hook line and sinker! 

We ran out of Yak blankets from Nepal very quickly.

They sold like hotcakes. 

1 comment :

  1. I like your sardonic sense of humor and find your frankness hysterical. The Yak blankets sound lovely and I would love to own one especially if I knew that the funds were going to support education. You may not think that your charity is doing big things and this will sound like cliche but education changes things and people in big ways so keep on doing what you're doing and thank you for your charity's efforts in Nepal. I am still snickering at your comment about the shepherds beating the yaks for their wool. :)