A Western nursery rhyme says that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and all things nice” while little boys are made of “snips and snails and puppy dog tails.”
And according to S-di and P, (some) Nepalis say that people are made of…
The conversation started when I was asking S-di for remedies for a dry scalp. Even though our winter in New England has been unusually mild and nearly snow-less this year, my skin feels a bit drier than normal, particularly my scalp. She recommended that I put olive oil in my hair once in a while for a few hours before washing to give it more moisture and shine.
I’ve heard of other South Asian friends oiling their hair, but I never had the nerve to do it. In my opinion my thinner, lighter Caucasian hair gets oily pretty fast already, and putting more oil in my hair kind of freaks me out. I don’t want to look like an Italian mobster with a slicked back 1950s pompadour. Although who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll try it and it will be the best thing that ever happened to my head.
“Her problem is that she takes really hot showers.” P chimed in, “Incredibly hot showers. I don’t know how she can stand under the water when it is that temperature.”
“You shouldn’t take such hot showers.” S-di suggested, “Don’t you know, when they skin a goat they dip it in really hot water and the hair pulls right off? Hot water is not good for hair.”
You know you are in an intercultural relationship when your hot shower is compared to skinning a goat.
But I have to admit that I love hot showers, not necessarily long showers, but piping hot I-can-barely-stand-under-the-shower-head kind of showers, especially in the winter. When I’m feeling particularly cold, and I jump into a hot shower, I can feel the chill drain down my backbone and out my toes. After such showers my Irish skin glows pink and steam rises off me.
“I’ve been taking hot showers for years and it didn’t seem to give me trouble before, but this year I feel itchier.” I said, scratching my scalp.
“If you scratch too much, you’ll smell like chicken sh*t.” S-di said.
“Yeah, don’t you know that? If you scratch your skin too much it smells like chicken poop.” P added.
“I can’t say I’ve ever smelled myself and thought, hmmm this smells like chicken poop.” I said.
“Have you ever smelled chicken poop?” P asked.
“I’m sure I have, but I can’t think of the smell right now.”
“Scratch the back of your hand, scratch it really hard, then take a good sniff.” P said.
We both started scratching our hands. I inhaled a deep whiff from the surface of my skin, and I swear I only smelled soap. “Nope, it’s chicken poop.” P insisted.
So then chicken poop must smell like Dove cucumber melon bar soap.
Anyway—they explained that when the Hindu god Brahma was attempting to create humans, he tried with lots of different types of material, but with each attempt his creations couldn’t speak. When all else seemed to fail, he decided to try chicken poop…
“And then the human spoke!” M-dai added with a chuckle.
This is why some Nepalis insist that if you scratch your skin it will smell like chicken poop, because deep down there is a little chicken poop in us all.
I tried to google and see if I could substantiate their story with a more widely held Hindu myth, but no combination of google search terms seemed to bring up a similar story. Perhaps it’s a Nepali “old wives tale” but I think I might file this in the same category as an onion in the armpit gives you a fever.
Sadly a google search about taking scalding hot showers not being good for your skin seems to be true. My piping hot winter shower days might be numbered.