Namaste mero satiharu (I made a small mistake last post),
Shabbat ended a few hours ago here in Kathmandu. We had a free Shabbat but most of the group decided to stay in our luxurious four floor house. I had a relaxing time mostly reading books/ singing and eating. Today I walked up a small hill behind our house with some friends. On the top was a beautiful buddhist monastery and a vast view of the entire city. It was a pretty clear day so I was also able to see the Himalayas spread out across the horizon. We are in a buddhist part of the city surrounded by many monastery. While walking down the street here you can often find yourself flanked by youth with shaved heads and red capes. hopefully I will pick up some knowledge of buddhism while being here.
So after that short update I would like to go on to what I really wanted to post about visiting a Nepali village, one of the potential volunteer sites.
We drove out to the village called Sinderwati last Sunday on an old Nepali bus. Sinderwati is not so far but because of bad roads and many passes the ride took over 7 hours. The views were incredible, every few hours getting a glimpse of the Himalayas. Upon arrival we so the most quiet and quaint village against a mountain side. We were welcomed by the entire Tami village. Tami are one of the ethnic groups in Nepal, from a pretty low caste. Welcomes in Nepal are quite special and are very ceremonial. We stood in a line and some members of the village came to each of us, put a red tika on our forehead and then adorned us with a necklace of rhododendron flowers, the national flower of Nepal. We then each introduced ourselves in Nepali “Mero Israeli Naam Avigayil ho” and after a brief explanation of our name we each got a fitting Nepali name. Because my name literally means “father of joy” I was given the name Harka-Mia: Happy-Love.
After the amazing welcome dancing ensued with the entire village including the children. Nepali music is quite special and they also dance in such an incredible way. I had such a great time dancing with the children.
We were then split up in groups of two in homes of families at the village. I got to live with a family of 5 children, 3 young boys that were home, one older sister and a married brother who lived in a nere by village. In Nepal you do not call people by their first names but rather by their degree of respect. Older sisters are called Didi and I called the Mother of the family Ama- Mother in Nepali.
The house was very simple, the mother cooked all the meals on a fire in the middle of the kitchen with the smoke spreading up throughout the house. I got to sleep in one of the boy’s rooms about 1.5 sq meters. The bed was a piece of wood with some straw on it. The chickens ran around the house and there were some goats out in the yard. We were lucky that there was an outhouse, a small hole in the ground: point and shoot style.
The Ama of the house cooked us all our meals. Most Nepalis eat the staple food called Dal Bhat for both lunch and dinner. Dal Bhat is lentil soup and rice usually served with a side dish of vegetables and is usually spicy. Anyway we were asked to eat with our family every meal. We sat on the floor around the fire and the Ama or one of the children poured cold water over our hands to clean them. The mother then gave us piles of food. We kept telling the mother how good her food is ” mito chaa” and she kept on answering “Mito China” which literally means not tasty. This went on every meal no matter how fast we gobbled up the food. By the way Nepalis eat with their right hands and do not use any utensils. Needless to say we were very sick of Dal Bhat by the time we left the village.
To make a long story short Nepali mothers remind me of Polish mothers, no matter how good you tell them their food is they do not believe you.
It was special living in a village taken from 100 years ago.Vast agricultural terraces, buffalo walking around, clear blue skies and no modern facilities. We were also asked not to take pictures so that the children do not get used to modern gadgets.
I was also lucky that the young boys of the family taught me some special Nepali songs. Hopfully I can teach you some in future posts.
This upcoming week we will be visiting two of the other potential volunteer sites, one here in Kathmandu and one in a village called Mahadabesi. We will also continue to study Nepali, globalization, Nepal’s history and culture.
Look out for future posts!
Have a great week my friends!!!