Through a veil of incense and chanting, the Tibetan woman entered her trance and became possessed by the goddess Dorje Yudronma. As her costume whirled and flapped around in the smoky light, I realized suspending disbelief was my best option for this situation. My travel buddy had explained over tsampa porridge that morning how Peter's migraines had vanished since Lhamo Drolkar bit him on the neck. Yes, with her teeth. And so my curiosity agreed to accompany Nat for a treatment with this unusual healer. My belly had been aching since its intestinal flora had drifted down the Ganges months ago and anything was worth a try.
We poked our way up unassuming cement stairs and into the "healing" room where a group of patients sat in a nervous row on yak wool carpets for comfort. The others seemed to be sort of meditating and I did my best to follow suit, until she came at the first patient with a ritual dagger. I wondered who wouldn't want to run at that point but he didn't mind at all, even when the wild goddess sucked his upper arm and spat some molasses-type stuff into a bowl. Suspending disbelief was no longer possible and I was convinced it was all an elaborate act. That was definitely a place I did not want to be.
I looked across at Nat and saw she was completely hooked. By the look on her face, she relished being bitten near her kidneys, while I prayed to the universe to protect me as I became next in line. Without a word, Lhamo Drolkar swooped down and painlessly sucked a bit below my navel. She spat a tiny white stone into her bowl, handed it to me and announced that now I could have children - no more problems. What a relief, but what about my aching belly? No matter, I'm certain generations to come will thank my curiosity and Lhamo's ancient fertility treatment. Every one of my fellow patients left the room smiling, cradling their newly extracted treasures - black or white stones which had apparently been the cause of all their woes. My friend skipped out of the treatment like she'd just met an angel and reckoned she had never felt better.