Green green rice of home
Rice-planting season kicked off to its annual start here yesterday. During the slow, wet, rainy months, the Nepali countryside comes alive with activity. Everywhere are women in vivid red saris bent double, up to their shins in mud, over shimmering squares of fresh, chartreuse green. Even within the city limits, it seems every square inch of spare land, however small, between the new concrete apartment buildings has been planted with rice.
The waiters and "room boys" at my hotel will now begin taking turns, going back to their home villages in shifts. Everyone must pitch in to help with planting season, even if it means taking time off their cash-yielding city jobs.
An Indian friend pointed out to me that all the longest continuous civilizations were the rice-planting civilizations, the ones whose culture revolved around rice farming. I thought about it, and realized he was right. India/subcontinent, China, Indonesia and southeast Asia - all those cultures have been continuous longer than the wheat or corn-growing cultures. Rice farming is so labour-intensive and requires such continual upkeep - it could never be done by machine, everything must be transplanted by hand - it keeps the traditional societal structure intact. Otherwise, everyone would starve.
I need to get some photos of the countryside while it's still tender and springy. By September, the colours will have mellowed to dark green, and then golden dun-colours before harvest time.
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