Thursday, December 30, 2010


Libraries are like casino buffets. They have every option you could possibly want, and you can take as much as you want. You can keep going back again and again. If you don't like what you have, you don't have to finish it. You can move easily to the next dish... or book.

I finally got a library card here, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to. If I can't get on a plane, train, or automobile out of here, sending my mind on a trip is the next best thing. I randomly picked up this book and read the back:

"In the village school we were taught to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

The teacher gave us difficult problems, asking us to figure out how many baskets of rice a family would have to sell to buy a new water buffalo. Or how many lengths of fabric a mother would need to make a vest and pants for her husband and still have enough for a dress for her baby.

Here I do a different set of calculations.

If I bring a half dozen men to my room each night, and each man pays Mumtaz 30 rupees, I am 180 rupees closer each day to going back home. If I work for a hundred days more, I will surely soon have nearly enough to pay back the 20,000 rupees I owe to Mumtaz.

Then Shahanna teaches me city subtraction.

Half of what the men pay goes to Mumtaz, she says.
Then you must take away 80 rupees for what Mumtaz charges for you daily rice and dal. Another 100 a week for renting you a bed and pillow. And 500 for the shot of the dirty-hands doctor gives us once a month so that we won't become pregnant.

She also warns me: Mumtaz will bury you alive if she sees your little book of figures.

I do the calculations.

And realize I am already buried alive."

The book tells the story of a young Nepali girl who is sold into prostitution by her step-father. She is taken all the way to India, the whole time believing that she is going to work as a maid and will be sending the money back to support her family. What a horrific surprise. The writing is absolutely lovely while telling such a horrifying story. Saying it was 'easy' to read sounds wrong, because it's not easy to read about such things, but it her style was so captivating I moved through the book with ease. I was surprised when I set the book down having finished after just two days.

Recently I learned about Somaly Mam Foundation. An organization that rescues, educates, and reintegrates women and girls who have been victims of human trafficking. Started by a survivor of such treatment, this organization stands as a voice against such organized brutality.

In my opinion, to get rid of human trafficking you have to follow the laws of economics. If there is a demand, there will be someone who will find a way to supply it. Thus, we must get rid of the demand. How do we do this? Teaching moral values from the get-go. To me it seems the best way to do this is through the family. Teach them the value of a Woman.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Wish

I don't know how to not wish I wasn't here for Christmas. Having asked a number of people where the favorite place they've traveled is, and often hearing Switzerland as their choice, it is now at the top of my list of places I want to go. This list is quite extensive. In reality, there is not a single place I wouldn't want to go, although there is a bottom of the list: Antartica. Mostly because so many of the things that I love about traveling: people, food, architecture, art, history, fashion, is seriously lacking there. Oh, and it's completely frozen. I'm sure that horizon line would be amazing though.

But Switzerland would be amazing. Apparently there are delightful Christmas Markets all over this country. The picture above is of Luzern. Someday I'll make it to one of these markets and maybe buy some Christmas decor similar to these:

From the home of Maedchenstyle in Berlin. Many came from this delightful site. The pixies are adorable. Merry Christmas.