Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Mike is tired and opts out. And a bit under the weather - there is a cold / flu thing going around which I luckily got over with before my guests arrived. Plus sticking together in a group with an ever-changing schedule known only to a control-freak like me can be tiring. But of all the Manipurs that exist out there, I want them to see my Manipur. When I was planning this, I kept thinking of Go Takamine’s remark, at a Flaherty, about his native Okinawa in his films: “No, Okinawa is not like that all. This is my Okinawa. I made it up.” Kick-ass.

Oja Kumar Maibi was waiting. He thought he might go to the ASEAN Motor Car Rally. Wonder if the people there would know a shaman had come to see them off?

We all kowtow. Oja Kumar’s daughter-in-law brings out tea. We drink a lot of tea on this trip.

Yoshiko is respectful and goes into full Japanese mode. Wonderful.

We ask about the Weavers Dance. Oja gets up, almost tottering, and he sings and dances. He dances the tilling of soil, the planting and harvesting of cotton, the making of thread, the setting up of the loom, the warp and weft, the putting on the leather back support, the threading the spindle…. We begin to guess the meaning of the actions. All the steps till the final wash, drying, folding and, finally, the offering to the gods.

He speaks of the gods in a language I can barely follow.

We look at his old pictures high up on the wall of his front porch. One shows him in full drag as a shaman priestess.

As we leave, I ask my friends if they want to visit some weavers.

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