Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fairytale of Kathmandu

Saturday, June 21, 1:30 pm, Victoria Theatre FAIR21V

Cathal Ó Searcaigh (KAA-hahl o-SHAR-kee) [left] is a famous and beloved Irish poet, living openly as a gay man in a rural town in Ireland, writing mostly in the Irish language, but also writing largely about his many trips to Nepal. One winter, he invited his neighbor and former student, Neasa Ní Chianáin (NYAH-sah nee KHEE-nan) to accompany him. She saw the beauty of the Nepalese countryside that so inspired him, but she also saw the young men going into Cathal's room for the night, all of them at least 16 years old (the age of consent in Nepal) but many of them apparently innocent of the ways of sex, either with girls or with boys. Cathal was quite generous, giving the boys many gifts, including clothes, a bicycle, and money to pay their school fees or start a business or build a house. Cathal insists that the gifts were freely given, but Neasa became increasingly concerned that Cathal might be, perhaps unwittingly, exploiting the boys, glossing over deep cultural and socioeconomic differences in the pursuit of a night's companionship. She returned to interview some of the same boys with a counselor, and they told her that, for example, Cathal invited one of the boys to his room to help him with his English studies, but touched the boy's private parts much more than he touched his books. While Ó Searcaigh is clearly worlds apart from the sex tourists who pick up young boys or girls and discard them like used Kleenex, it seems that his generosity is perhaps not as altruistic as he himself would like to believe. A sad and poignant tale. MUST SEE.

Fairytale of Kathmandu, dir. Neasa Ní Chianáin, 2007 Ireland/UK 60 min., in English, Irish Gaelic, and Nepalese with English subtitles

Voice of Children is a charity that helps street children in the Indian subcontinent to get an education and build their self-reliance. Enfants et Développement has established a trust fund specifically focused on the children of Nepal.

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