Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Happy New Year Vampire Story to Welcome 2071

I've been so behind in posting these days that I should call this Too Lazy To Blog. Which really would be a new high (or low) in laziness. But fortunately, a new year is coming, and so I can turn over a new leaf while I thank a vampire.

This is a non-sparkly Hindi TV vampire.
And yes, this is related to New Year's. Which is this weekend,
in the same part of the world in which this cheery fellow is considered
to be a fun character for a children's show. Who needs Big Bird?

OK, I know what you're thinking. "I'll let the vampire part slide for a minute, because you've clearly lost it, but what do you mean, new year? You may be a bit slow on the uptake, girl, but it's been 2014 for a while now." That's where you're wrong. Here in Nepal, we're almost done with the year 2070. This weekend, it will turn 2071. Here's proof in the form of a real Nepali New Year's card with a Nepali New Year's Unicorn (or maybe a New Year's My Little Pony) for those who don't find my New Year's Vampire sweet enough:

Our calendar is called the B.S. calendar. It doesn't stand for what you might think. And it isn't one of those calendars that just get trotted out on special occasions, so that people can go to a Chinese restaurant and say Happy Year of the Rat without really leaving 2014. No, it's pretty much NEVER 2014 here. Or January or April. Today, for instance, is Chait 27, 2070, not April 8, and if you're going to a government office or planning a meeting you'd better remember it because no one else will be paying the least whit of attention to April 8 and you will be 56.7 years late.

Of course, our confusing calendar does mean that this guy ...

My father-in-law, dressed in his Junior Soprano outfit in Mustang, near Tibet.
He knows the appropriate words to ward off vampires,
and since I'll post more pictures of them it's good to have him around for safety.

... was born the same year as this guy:

Teenager who doesn't like sparkly vampires
checking to see if cannon is loaded 

So what is the special occasion that is marked by Year One in the B.S. calendar? Well, uh, people aren't sure. The B.S. stands for Bikram Sambat, or Bikram's Era, and was supposedly established by a ruler named Bikram a.k.a. Vikramaditya -- alert readers may notice the V, but that's close enough to B for us here in the land of random spelling -- who may have created the calendar to mark his victory over the Sakas. They turn out to have been nomads from Kazakhstan. I have no idea how an Indian king ended up in Kazakhstan, but maybe that's why he needed a new calendar, along with a new map.

Anyway, some people see this as the same King Bikram who carried a vampire around. There's an old legend, dramatized in a classic children's series on Hindi TV, in which, listen up children and gather around the TV for your bedtime story, Bikram goes to a cremation ground where he meets an evil old sadhu who will give him a wonderful gift if he brings him a corpse. So Bikram finds the corpse and it turns out to be a vampire, ha ha it's not dead after all, and each day the vampire tells him a story that involves a riddle that Bikram has to answer correctly or die.

Bikram with the vampire.
I think I'd want a new start, too.
I'm picturing the production meeting. A story a day, for 25 days! Children love stories!

The first story involves a bride who tries to commit suicide after her husband dies. There is also a bandit attack and a beheading -- great, that means pretty bridal costumes for the girls, action for the boys! -- and then a mistake in which the husband's head is put on the wrong body and reanimated, and in the end there's an interesting educational riddle for Bikram and the kids to solve about whether the bride's real husband is the body with the wrong head or the right head with the wrong body.

I wonder if there are any action figures. They could have interchangeable heads.

Although at least our South Asian vampires could beat the crap out of any sparkly Twilight vampires. And the kids who grew up with Vikram Aur Betaal can be counted on to be able to cope with absolutely anything that life may toss them. Which may be the point. No electricity? No water? Third world politicians? No problem, I grew up with vampires at bedtime.

At any rate, everything in Nepal runs on the Bikram calendar: the governments, the schools, the fiscal year, the bus schedules, and apparently this blog as well since it's been so long between posts. I'm going to blame it on the whole B.S. thing.

So now, on the occasion of 2071, I think we should all have some drinks and thank a vampire. Because in the end, he teams up with Bikram to kill the evil sadhu (who my husband informs me isn't really a sadhu because they're never evil but a tantric, in case you've stumbled onto this blog while doing research for a term paper), and I guess the two live happily ever after, coming up with a new calendar or something. If you'd like, you can even download the Android app:

Happy New Year 2071, kids!

No comments: