My name is Sonam Dolkar, named so for prosperity, good luck, and comfort in solitude. I am a 30 year old woman born into a family who has lived in our village for many years. I have chosen to remain unmarried, and am very close to my family, which includes my parents and brother. I live in a small wooden house near to my family, and have a small raised storage shed for materials and tools. My family have been builders for 3 generations, specializing in wooden house construction and general carpentry. My family has also been trading for 2 generations, specializing mostly in building supplies and tools. My primary means of making a living is also as a builder. I specialize in infrastructure, mostly paths/trails, drainage ditches, and disposal systems/methods. My main focus is creating reliable and safe paths within our village, and also to connect us to neighbouring villages or places of worship. I work closely with bridge builders to assess strategic travel routes. Due to the mountainous terrain and dense forest growth, I am conscious of the need for stable paths that will need regular maintenance due to rain, erosion, and overgrowth.
Following the tradition of my family, my secondary skill is trading. I chose this as my secondary skill because it benefits my main job as a builder to have access to supplies and materials. I sell the tools and materials I import to other builders in our community, and also trade and sell with neighbouring villages. I also have a tool library for lending to my neighbours for small jobs they can do on their own. I think self-sufficiency is a valuable skill, and am always willing to give advice or instruction on minor repairs.
I have heard the recent rumours that there will be a potentially catastrophic hail storm this week. People are saying it could be due to black magic, or worse, that someone in our village has offended local spirits. I have noticed anomalous atmospheric activity this week, such as large dark clouds hovering around distant mountains, and have also seen wild animals acting strangely. Combined with the rumours, I am sure the rumours of the hail storm are true, and that some negative energy is at work. Friends of mine who have also heard the gossip of the hail storm are performing rituals to reverse the gossip. Rather than spending energy on reversing these rumours, I am using my energy on protecting myself and my family. My family and I are very religious, and have profound respect for natural spirits and the environment, so I know it is not us who have cause offense. None the less, I am protecting myself and my house with two amulets I purchased from a ritualist at the Deer Park in Sarnath. The amulets are representations of the male and female sky deities, Khenpa and Khonma, appearing as dogs. One will be placed above the doorway in my house, and the other above the doorway of my shed. My hope is that they have been consecrated properly by the ritualist, mostly through the rite of stambhana, the rite of stopping all action, using beads of rock and crystal, and using a central gaze looking toward the end of the nose. When I placed these amulets on my house and shed, a ritualist from our village evoked the deities, and made appropriate offerings to them. If enough people in our village also evoke the Sky Father and Mother it may be possible for us to stop the hail storm completely, or at least prevent extensive damage to our houses.
As additional protection, I plan to temporarily reinforce one corner of the roof of my house with planks removed from the floor boards of one area of my house, so if the storm becomes extreme and the hail stones are as big as is predicted, I will be able to seek shelter inside that corner of the house, as the hail stones will likely penetrate the roof if the storm is as intense as predicted. I decided to temporarily remove the floor boards from one section of my house rather than buy new planks of wood because I expect the damage to other’s houses to be extensive, and we’ll need all the wood we can get for the repair process. I plan to do this for my family as well, and show anyone else in our village how to do it themselves, lending them extra tools to do so.
Though our houses are built on stilts, and most likely will not be in danger of flooding themselves, it will be important to dig drainage ditches down the slopes our village is built on to prevent erosion that could compromise the structural integrity of the stilts. After reinforcing my house and my family’s house, I will be busy all week digging deeper ditches to divert storm water away from our most used paths, and of course away from our houses.
I hope we can prevent the rumours from coming to fruition through our protection amulets and other ritual magic, but if not, my efforts to dig better water diversion ditches will surely be useful.