Nepali Times


The last meeting of the Charitraheen Chelis took place at an undisclosed restaurant in Kathmandu, at a table right next to a man who was openly smoking pot. The Chelis ordered beer and margarita and gin slings for themselves.

It was not long before they began giggling. It all began when one Cheli brought up the 108 sexual positions depicted in a Bhaktapur temple. "If you want to try them out, you'd have to go and see them with your partner," she said. "Otherwise how would he know what to do? Okay, your leg there. My head here. Your arm there."

The agenda of their meeting was: 'The Top Ten Causes That The Chelis Believe In' and here they are:

1 Legalised prostitution. A win-win situation all around.
2 Citizenship through mothers. Recently, Badi women threatened to stage a naked protest in Kathmandu if the government did not grant their children citizenship without identifying their fathers. The Chelis applaud their spirit.
3 Unconditional abortion. Why the approval of the husband/father/guardian?
4 Rape is not just limited to the forced penetration of the vagina. Think anal rape, oral rape, then see Nepali law.
5 The movement to restore democracy. How sexy is that?
6 The movement for the rights of Dalit women.
7 The language rights movement. Trilingualism is hip.
8 The human rights movement, in all its ascendancy. Right now, the Chelis would like to draw attention to state-sponsored rape, when one state official commits rape, and others help to hide it.
9 An end to our centuries' old tradition of impunity.
10 Local ownership of natural resources.

That's ten. But by this time the Chelis were riled enough that they wanted to continue:

11 Decentralisation. Give us back our DDCs and VDCs and Wards.
12 Anti-banda gestures. Kathmandu motorcycle rallies, car rallies, marches etc. against bandas are cool. Bandas on bandas. Please?
13 Transparency and accountability. Now, before you nod your head
knowingly, it should be said that the Chelis were talking about corruption in NGOs and INGOs. Of course, the government (what government?) should be transparent and accountable too. But so should the NGOs and INGOs.

At this point, an irate side conversation took place between two Chelis. The gist was:

14 Newspapers must pay more to their staff and writers.
The conversation eventually veered back to course. Other causes dear to the Chelis were:
15 Labourers should be compensated during bandas by those who call the bandas. (This excludes rickshaw drivers who earn plenty during bandas).
16 Mothers' groups, or Aama Samuha. A brief outcry broke out at this point about daughters who are oppressed by their mothers, but was quickly quelled.
17 The Chelis feel that the women who rescued their abducted husbands from the Maoists represent the best of Nepal.

Again, a streak of frivolity broke out. Some Chelis wondered why unmarried men weren't called Budo Kumars, as unmarried women are called Budi Kanyas. Other Chelis wondered why women wear dupattas over their salwar-kamij: why the modesty, man? Burning dupattas is the equivalent of bra-burning. It must be done. (Tomorrow noon, at Ratna Park). They then continued:

18 Some of the families of people who have been disappeared over the past few years are beginning to set up their own support structures, looking after each others' children when they have to go and look for their disappeared family members, etc. This is a cause worth supporting.
19 Secularism.
20 Republicanism.
21 Reform in the aid industry. While the more radical Chelis demanded (fists banging on the table) that we send all aid organisations packing, the more moderate Chelis prevailed, leading to a unanimous demand for the immediate reform of the aid industry, so that aid helps and not harms Nepal.
22 Bottom-up globalisation. (No, not, bottoms-up, bottom-up). This is as opposed to top-down globalisation, a topic that some Chelis became very, very animated about.
23 An end to militarisation. Make copious love, not copious war.

Again the conversation got sidetracked. There is, apparently, a difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasm. It all depends on your position. (See introduction, above). The conclusion was, and here I quote, "The missionary position assumes that orgasm is vaginal, whereas actually, orgasm is a clitoral phenomenon."

At this point, one of the Chelis said that when she was a student, she came across the word karani in her textbook. She asked her father what it meant, but he didn't tell her. Neither would her teacher. That's how she realized it meant sex. A Cheli yelled, "Karaune? To scream? Does that really mean sex?"

It all deteriorated from there. Some Chelis wondered whether they should turn the Charitraheen Chelis into a dating service. Others lamented the lack of anonymity in Nepal, which makes dating so unpleasant.

The meeting disbanded with one Cheli singing, "Rejoice, rejoice, you have no choice," referring not, as one would think, to dating in Nepal, but to the aid industry.

Rosy Chettri is a feminist with unrestricted access to the Charitraheen Chelis, and regularly files minutes of their underground meetings

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)