Last night (Sunday) we made our first visit to a local healer, Bauta dai. He’s been interested in our gang since I brought our test-cards over to his house last fall to treat him for a snake bite. Last night was Bauta dai’s chance to diagnose and treat us. Yesterday was also our first treatment day and everyone is still a little jet-lagged, not to mention adjusting to being in a rural Nepali village…plus, there was a gigantic rain storm right at 4pm when we were finishing with patients. Around 6, as everybody was getting up from their naps, Govinda came over to say that Bauta dai was ready to see us tonight. We each needed an offering of rice, flowers, and some money, and the only bags we could find for these items were some snack-sized ziplocks from someone’s luggage. We ran around picking flowers and putting them in our weird American baggies and hustled over to Bauta-dai’s house near dusk.
Bauta dai took us one at a time. He tested our pulses and then took the offering of rice grains from each one of us and used it almost like a looking glass to make diagnoses. We went home for dinner and then came back with a few more items – meat, incense, oil – and Bauta dai did a traditional kind of therapy called “phuknu.” It’s a ritualized process that puts him in a trance-like state in which he holds the patient’s head and almost looks like he’s breathing out the afflicting spirit.