The Living Museum – The Feminist Wire

The Living Museum

By Rachana Pathak

I am your living museum

For you to idealize –

The village life

Happy peasants

Smoking beedis in the fields

Bring out your reels.
I am your living museum
A time capsule for finding –

Ancient rituals,

The incense and,

The kinsmen dressed in crimson

Free admission.

I am your living museum

Unravel the enigma –

Of Shiva and the Buddha

The tempting tantric spectra

On your one-month

Travel visa.


I am your living museum

Bend off the beaten path –

Binoculars and backpack intact

Snap the poor and folklore

With your

Trusty Kodak.


I am your living museum

Befriend porters and women –

To authenticate

Your fresh vision.

Weave a fiction of hopes and



I am your living museum

Clap to Resham firiri

Flowing skirts

All carefree

With turquoise beads and bindis

Flaunt your savvy.




I am your living museum
For you to romanticize –
But come quick

Before the noble savage.

Quits the village leaving you
Without footage.


I am your living museum

But can’t you see

Your gaze is aging

Times are a changing.

Demonstrating and upstaging

No more medieval waiting

Or royal taking.


I am your living museum

And I see your wistful gaze

For heartfelt times before

An exotic amour

A privileged pleasure shore.

That is no more.


In your country –

I remain a living museum.

My big eyes brown skin


Tantric energy

Feed your fantasy.

In your country –

You dabble

To comprehend this docile

Tribal spectacle:


Your English is very good

You commend

And I playfully pretend

Not to take offense

Yes I’m from Shangrila –

I revert and bend

The dynamics.
I’ll read you Ginsberg and will transcend.

And just like you



But do you see what’s happened

In your country –

We are

A Gurkha recruit

A trafficked beaut

A minor suit.

And though we uprooted in pursuit

We cannot beat

This third world repute.


In your country –

The shit and lotus flowers

Stay intertwined

And I am consigned

The living museum is enshrined

In your mind

With different outlines.


Rachana Pathak  is a Nepali-American woman who lives in Brooklyn, NY.