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Day 81: Lugu Lake

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe fans have gone and we have the 37-room hotel to ourselves. Well, ourselves and Namu. Namu, a little force-field of her own, is the centre of attention even when she's not around. She either retreats, with her mobile, to deal with her complicated international life, or sweeps out, usually in a different outfit, firing on all cylinders, organizing, cajoling and demanding.

Having talked about the importance of the Flower Chamber in her upbringing, she wants to recreate one for me. Orders are given and we all repair to the Karaoke room and watch pop videos until Namu, now in a long, black, satin dress with green silk lining, arrives, flicks off her mobile, then swings herself up on a raised platform before the fireplace and, with the relish of a natural actress, begins the half-interview, half-performance. I am expected to be both interviewer and supporting actor.

Though the Mosuo have this reputation for sexual generosity, the process she describes seems conventional enough. The first sign of attraction may well have taken place at one of the circle dances, a touch of pressure on the hand, a piece of skilful positioning. But the Mosuo girls are always in control, she says. Before anyone got as far as the Flower Chamber she would have been playing the field, asking one to prove his love by throwing a stone further than anyone else, or singing more sweetly, or riding a horse faster.

Once allowed in, the lucky man would be offered butter tea and little delicacies such as a potato, an orange or sunflower seeds. If things were going well, some wine might be offered as well.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 81: Lugu Lake
  • Country/sea: China
  • Place: Lugu Lake
  • Book page no: 189

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  • Around the World in 80 Days