At first I thought it was a joke, but then when I got home I found a couple of Jane Goodall autographs online, and the letters J and G are eerily similar to the signature on the car:
What do you think? Real or fake? -andy
For those of you who followed the trials and tribulations of Sajani Shakya, the kumari of Bhaktapur last year, you might be interested to know she has just retired from her status as a living goddess. I got an email a few days ago from Marc Hawker, co-producer of Living Goddess, the documentary that featured Sajani, who wanted to pass along news of this milestone.
“Sajani this week performed a ritual to become a ‘teenager’ and to retire from being a goddess,” Marc told me while on a shoot in Bhutan. “She is really happy and we are working with her family to get her into a good school in Nepal.”
I’m glad to hear Sajani has graduated to goddess emeritus, if you will, and can begin the process of returning to a normal teenage life. As you may recall, Sajani briefly lost her status as a living goddess after local religious leaders were furious about her visit to the United States, which they felt impurified her. Eventually she was restored as kumari following a re-purification ritual, and because of this, she gets to retire with a modest kumari pension that will help support her family and education.
There was no word, however, on whether she received a grandfather clock as a retirement gift, or whether the other local kumaris got together for a roast at the Kathmandu Kiwanis Club. Either way, congratulations, Sajani! -andy
Are Apple CEO Steve Jobs and “Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie long lost brothers? You tell me.
Very strange indeed. -andy
So says Hiroshi Sakano of Japan’s Sakano Labs, an an interview with Reuters. Sakano’s team genetically modified a family of mice to suppress a particular olfactory receptor, which normally converts the mice’s sense of smell into messages sent to the brain. They discovered that when the modified mice couldn’t pick up certain smells, they lost their fear instinct. Normally, a mouse would run like hell when confronted with a cat, but these mice just want to hang out instead. Hope they have plenty of kibble for the cat, or that mouse is in deep trouble. -andy
Who would have guessed I’d meet a living goddess this weekend.
Yesterday evening, we were walking past the Discovery Channel building in Silver Spring, heading to a restaurant for dinner, when an adorable little South Asian girl walked by in an ornate golden outfit and an extravagant tika painted on her head. I guessed she and her family were headed to some form of Hindu festival in the area.
“You won’t lose her in a crowd,” a man remarked as we crossed the street.
“She looks like a Kumari,” Susanne said, in reference to the young girls of Nepal who are worshiped as living goddesses.
She did look like a Kumari, but Kumaris never travel. They barely leave their compounds, or so I thought. Susanne and I saw the royal Kumari of Kathmandu when we visited Nepal in 1996. She was cloistered in a special building that serves as her residence during her tenure, and we had to pay a small fee for the privilege of having her stick her head out the window and glare at us for a moment, clearly preferring to be elsewhere.
Selected as toddlers, always from a Buddhist family of the Shakya caste, Kumaris are picked based on 32 personal traits in a process that’s sometimes compared to the rigorous process taken to select the Dalai Lama. Once selected, she’s revered by the local Hindu population until she reaches puberty, when a new Kumari must be selected. And it’s almost unheard of for them to travel.
As it turns out, she was a Kumari – the Kumari of Bhaktapur, the former royal capital of Nepal, and one of the three most important of the dozen or so Kumaris in Nepal. She was in the US for a world premiere of a documentary about Kumaris at the Silverdocs festival here in Silver Spring, and it was the first time a Kumari had ever visited the US. We were both pretty amazed that we’d gotten the chance to see her. Too bad it was just a fleeting glance crossing Georgia Avenue, though.
Today, we returned to downtown Silver Spring for lunch. A large stage had been set up for some kind of performance, and there were signs posted from the local Nepali American association. We stuck around for a while, and sure enough, the Kumari reappeared.
The next time your child acts up in public, take heart – chances are, their behavior isn’t as bad as destroying a sand mandala created painstakenly over a period of days by Buddhist monks. The monks weren’t present when the young scofflaw climbed under the rope barrier protecting their artwork and performed a tapdance on top of it; otherwise they might have blown a gasket. I hope this kid got a serious time out. -andy
Raymond Adamcik, a doctor from Indialantic, Florida, where I grew up, got arrested this week. He and his buddies were at a local bar, all dressed up as Captain America as part of some superhero-themed pub crawl. He allegedly groped a woman, wielding a burrito he pulled from his pants, then got into a scuffle with the woman’s significant other. The police arrived, and they made all the Captain Americas go outside for a line-up so the woman could identify the not-so-super superhero.
“There were a lot of people in costumes,” said Jill Frederiksen, Melbourne Police spokeswoman. “They had to ask all dressed as Captain America to step outside, so she could identify him.”
This photo was taken by the security camera at the police station. Say it ain’t so, captain! -andy
Local police released this photo from the bank’s security camera. Neither the man nor his horse are facing charges, though the guy may have to pay for cleaning up the deposit the horse reportedly left at the bank. -andy
Steve Garfield recently posted the results of what he called his Autocomplete Personality Test. It’s a simple idea: you go to your Web browser and work your way through the alphabet, typing each letter to see what URL pops up. Assuming your browser is set to autocomplete the URL, it’ll give you a sense of some of the sites you visit (or at least those sites you’ve visited since you cleared your browser cache).
Here are the results of my test.