Once again the villages of Nepal have stolen my heart. I told everyone that for my ISP I wanted to go rural, to have an authentic rural Nepal experience, and that is exactly what I have found here.
The first few hours in the village were tough. I was not given much freedom. I was treated like someone who needed very special care. Bhuendra kept apologizing for things they didn’t have- like a shower, or a place to wash my clothes, or real floors and a gas stove. I didn’t come to this village to judge his way of life, I am just happy to be here. I am working hard to move away from being a tourist to being allowed to be part of this community. So I made an effort to speak a lot of Nepali and just try and not let them put me on some higher level because of my skin color. My first night of dinner was a treat. Living in this humble home as been amazing. I was ushered upstairs and sat with Bhuendra and his family in the small dirt floor kitchen. Over a small wood fire stove his wife had cooked. They were very happy that I could eat with my hands, and when I told them how much I loved Nepali food, my new didi was extremely happy! I went to bed so very happy. Well if you can really say went to bed. Here a bed it a piece of plywood with a blanket on top- no padding. But it does not bother me in the least.
I don’t know how to describe how living here suits me. I love this lifestyle.
Some people say you wouldn’t want to live in the rural village because it is so hard, but I say you should live here because it is so easy. Okay so there aren’t showers or warm water, you have to cook over wood fire, the floors are dirt, there isn’t internet or TV, there aren’t shop with tons of things or cars to take you elsewhere, no movie theatres, or supermarkets.
But that what makes it so easy. Showering often isn’t expected, there are more important things than looking your best. You spend time with people over a wood fire preparing a meal that will be delicious. Food is simple, and food is to nourish you. There are simpler sweeter ways to spend your time without the distraction of TV or Internet. You don’t need the supermarket and the items- you just need the simple necessities of the space around you. You sit in the street and chat you’re your friends over tea, while kids entertain themselves simply with sticks, old soda, bottles, and their minds. Having very little in a lot of ways makes life just that much easier. And this is a lifestyle I love.
That night I went to the kitchen to watch my didi cook. The kitchen is nestled in the little space in the attic, on dirt floors with a slopped roof and a small area for a wood fire. There are a few tin plates, a couple tin bowsl, 2 big pots, and a jug. There’s no fridge or storage place for extra foods. Things to be eaten in the next 2-3 days were laid on woven mats in the corner. Spices were stored in a container by the wood fire. Someone had carried up a pitcher of water from the spiket. That was all they needed. I sat down next to my mami to cook with her. I sat up there with her, even after my eyes watered and stung from the smoke, and I was covered in dirt from the floor. I sat there and watched her cook and talked and learned. And her face showed just how happy she was to have someone interested, to have someone who wanted to talk, who wanted to learn, who wanted to be in her company. She’s beautiful- my new didi. She has been wearing a stunning red sari, even in her dirt floor kitchen, barefoot over a fire cooking daal, she looks more beautiful that most people I have ever met.
“Dehrai aamaa chaa- kathmanduko aamaa, amerikako aammaa, ani ahile naayaa aamaa chha!” – she pointed to her chest and smiled widely. I did have a lot of moms, she was right, and of course I would now consider her one of them. My newest aammaa on the list.
I knew I was something of interest in this small village. Everyone starred on the way to school but I didn’t realize how widespread this newness was. I went on a walk by myself today and that was my first experience. Just a short walk, about 30 minutes one way and then turned around. But as I walked down the road the reality of my uniqueness in this village really struck me. People didn’t know what to say. They just stopped and starred, mouths agape and eyes wide as I walked by. Their faces were skeptical and confused. What the heck was I doing here? Some people broke out into fits of uncontrollable laughter. They didn’t quite know what else to do/ Like the idea of a white person walking through their village was purely hilarious. I decided might as well play my part so I waves at them, and their laughter rang louder. Every time I lifted my hand to wave, the laughs escalated. I did this all the way down the street and the roaring laughter followed me around the corner. I couldn’t decide if it was like being a princess or a circus animal. When I got home I confirmed that I was the first white person to ever come here.