Dhal Bhat and "Pingal"
Updated 11 years, 5 months ago
Well there you go, back to civilisation- and I have to say, as I moved into the room facing the UNBEARIBLY noisy street yesterday (I'm coming to the end of my trip- you have to sacrifce comfort for cash sometimes!!), with cars, motorbikes, dogs and people ALL screeching and screaming at the same time!!! (I really hope somebody has already made the arrangements for me to go and see that anger management person I was talking about on return- I really wasn't joking..it's getting to a quite critical stage now, where I think I might just be forced to start screeming out of the window myself in due time!!) I haven't missed it ONE little bit!!!
So the story:
Our journey started June 4th (I think), with a 6 hour , boiling hot (but then what isn't here!!?) bus journey south to a little village called Sauraha, near to the Royal Chitwan National Park, where you can see elephants, rhinos and if you're very lucky- a bengal tiger! I, however, saw neither a tiger nor any rhinos, because I wasn't prepared to pay the ridiculously high entrance fee, and besides, it was way too hot to be going around hunting rhinoscerous anyway!!
I did however, thanks to my hostbrother and the fact that, on our arrival, the school had just closed for 2 days because of the heat wave (36degrees was an uneducated, if not to say naive, guess of mine! On arrival and upon viewing, not without some amusement, the rivers of sweat flowing from my body, my, at this point bone dry!! host family informed me of the 43C temperature!!!!!ARGH!!!) have the opportunity to visit the nearby elephant breeding centre, which cost around 5p (much more to my taste=)!) and see lots of adorable little Dumbo elephants with their mummies- ahhhh!!!
The school, as it happened, was, after it's initial 3 day closure due to the searing heat, to remain shut for the duration of our stay, then due to strikes (there's lots of those in Nepal at present because of all the King/Maoist/Bomb actions etc) and not reopen again until our date of departure! So anyway, this meant that the mornings were left free to help the host family with cooking, washing, cleaning and work in the fields- which were all no less a challenge and also very rewarding experiences, before heading over to the orphanage in the afternoons!
My host family consisted of a woman (Laxmi) with her three daughters (aged 6-12) and her nephew (22) (the father is in the States, as are many of the village men, trying to earn some more money), who all lived in a litte buffalow dung/mud house in a gorgeous little village, with an outside squat toilet and a water pump which multi funftioned as a dishwasher/washing maschine and shower. They did however, despite cooking over a fire every night and eating with their hands, own a television!!, much to my dissapointment!, around which many of the villagers would congrugate in the evenings, in order to watch, (with a to me quite inexplicable amount of glee), those absolute DISASTERS (in my opinion!), which are hindi films!!
Though, the few times that I forced myself, for the sake of quality family time, to join them in this venture, I failed to linguistically understand a word, I was none the less horrified at the awfully dramatised acting and constant outbreaks of dancing at every seemingly unneccessary moment!!! Still, these naive films may be in part to thank for the unruined nature of the people here?!
Because, I have to say, NICER and KINDER people than I encountered in and around that village and sweeter, better behaved kids than I had the pleasure of spending so much time with at that orphanage- I have NEVERRRRR met in ALLLL of my life!!!!!
The friendliness, the hospitality, the honesty, the sharing, the helping- everyone there could, without the slightest bit of exhageration, be described as the sweet naturedest person on Earth!!! They were just simply gorgous- the lot of them!! Before I went I had fears of my things getting stolen etc, resulting in my leaving most of my luggage behind in Kathmandu, but already after the first hour I realized how totally unnecessary that precaution had been- anything that was yours they respected and looked after as if it were their own, and should you forget something they'd go out of their way to get it back to you as soon as possible!!
Anyway, there's so much to tell you about the last couple of weeks, that I think, in order to save you from my droning on, (which you may already be aware of, I have a slight tendency of doing sometimes=))- I'll just compile a sort of list, and whoever wants to hear the full story shall just have to buy my book=)!!
So here goes:
-To make it easier for everyone to call us, we were soon bothe given Nepalese names: me, they alled me "Neha"- meaning: "the honest one", which I thought was kind of cool, and whilst I was there I also learnt that none of their children receive their names until they are at least 2 yrs old, but are simply know as "babu" or "nani", both meaning baby, until they can be given a name reflectiong the character traits which they have developed- nice eh?
-Whilst being there I discover that managing the water pump, is... not quite as easy as it looks!!
*Showering in a sari proves to be quite problematic, as you attempt to pump water, shampoo your hair and simultaneously try to keep that stupid bit of cloth from falling around your ankles! My ongoing unsuccesful experiments with this form of washing eventually results in me showering in my clothes, which proved much more relaxing, if not all the more challenging to clean all areas of the body- but there you go, you can't have it all eh?
* First attempts at washing vegetables there, result in a not unpleasant looking mosaic of stones and cucumber on the floor! Oh well, practice makes perfect eh=)!!
* And washing clothes provides slightly more aggravation than expected, as I drop more of them into the mud than into the soap...but oh well, at least I was able to provide the village with some other form of amusement rather than the television for a few days=)!!
-Communication was always an exciting adventure into the unknown! The nephew being the only person there with any sort of a grasp of English (apart from the kids at the orphange, who much to our surprise (and relief!!) all spoke superb English!), and our Nepalese being, erm, slow on the uptake to say the very least!, trying to have a conversation with anyone always involved a most immense use of body language, facial expressions, and ofcourse, not seldom, me making a complete prat of myself trying to get the point across with a game of shirads!!!
- Meals were had sitting crossed legged on the floor of the "kitchen", or barn, as I would call it, eating with the right hand only, off a large plate of rice (bhat), dhal (lentil sluch) and variying sorts of fried vegetables, which were prepared daily by anyone hanging around with nothing better to do, (of which sort, it being so hot, there was always a surplus!!).
This meal "dhal bhat" was had twice a day, at 11am and at about 7pm, EVERY day, and was a sort of all you can eat deal!!!
Now you may think it doesn't sound all that great, and I thought too when I ventured into this project that I was bound to fast get sick of all that copious amount of rice- but however, my family were all amzingly good cooks, and due to the varying types of vegetables, plus sometimes the much celebrated addition of chicken/ fish/ buffalo meat- I was quite amzed at what could be done with a bit of salt and some spices- it was absolutely delicious!!! I doidn't get bored of it once, and i find myself even now missing it a little!!!
- I discover that the only thing worse than hanging over a squat toilet with diaorhea, is hanging over a quat toilet with constipation (damm that rice!!! (Though Stretch and I did have a few discussions on this matter, as he spent much of the first week suffering from the former!). And then, that the only thing worse than hanging over a squat toilet with constipation, is hanging over a squat toilet whilst constipated, in the midst of the most violent thunder, rain and lightning storm you've ever enountered- the toilet being without a roof and all, and you, while getting hideously wet are also trying to keep the door from swinging to and fro and not drop your torch into the hole....yes, yes, but enough of all those fun times!!
-Also had the lucky opportunity of going to a Nepalese baby shower, which proved very educational and much fun, and got to ride home hanging off the back of the van- the greatest thing about these countries is doing things you know you'd probably be hanged for at home=)!!
- Then the orphange: so many stories, but I'll keep it short as the times running out:
the kids were amazing , 15 in all, ranging from 2 years to 15, I was forced to pull out my ENTIRE repetoire of childrens' games to keep them all amused, including almost sprayning my back doing cartwheels=), we had loads of fun having water fights in the river, making buffalo momo, playing bingo- or "pingal" as they inisted on calling it=) (it is amazing how many games you can play just with some sticks and stones, including some rather fun ones I made up on the spot!!), and, when everyone was too hot from playing, had some German lessons!! They were such great kids that I was really sorry not to have had more time with them.. but maybe I'll be able to return one day (in winter!!!) and see how they're all getting on!!
So all in all, I think I'd call it one of my best experinces of the trip so far- and a great way to end the journey! I felt for the first time that I'd gotten a real insight into the culture and the ways of the Nepalese people, and have thus become aware of how lovely a people and a culture it really is!!!
Ok, best go.....oooohh gosh, think this may well be my last mail from a foreign country!! Returning to England next Saturday and probably inform you from there what I thought of Dubai!
Odd thought eh=)?! Me, home??!!
Ok hope you're all well and happy,
loads of love as eva,
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