Namaste! The word for 'hallo' in Nepalese which literally means 'I bow to the God in you'. I think this must be one of the most beautiful ways to greet someone.
Mark left last Sunday and it was a bit strange to part at the airport - it seemed a bit unreal to be honest and it sort of still does. The following day, I was picked up at a guesthouse in Kathmandu together with 6 other volunteers. We went to the VIN office and had an introduction to the organization and the projects they are working on. Then we had two hours of intensive Nepali language class and we had the first of many daal bhat's.
After a 3-day induction (language and culture class, a little sightseeing, briefing on our volunteer jobs), we headed to the village - Tinpiple which is basically 4 shops and a bus stop. The houses and the various schools are scattered in the area within 30-min walking distance. The school I will be working at is a 5-min walk from where I live so that's a luxury. The school has been closed for Diwali - the second-biggest festival after Dasain (harvest festival) so tomorrow will be the first day. Quite exciting.
My host family consists of a mother and 4 children (2 boys (20 and 17) and 2 girls (19 and 14). The father lives with his 2nd wife and children (2 girls 12 and 10) with his cousin and his children. For some reason, the cousin's wife doesn't live with them but has her own place somewhere close by...It's all a bit complicated - also because the terms sister, father, brother, etc are used in a different way than we normally do. For instance, the youngest boy in my family, Peekash, said yesterday that his father would perform a ritual with his oldest father and youngest father - which worked out to be his father's older and younger brother...oh well...it doesn't really matter that much, I guess, they seem to be just one big family which is what matters.
Just as you enter our house, you will see 3 goats chewing on hay, there's a room just to the left where the sisters sleep if they are at home! It seems to be quite common for the kids to sleep over at their friends' or 'families' ' places. Then to the right of the goats you take the stairs to go to the kitchen/living room/bedroom of the family and next to this is my room. It's about 5-6 m2 and has a bed which even for me is quite short - I cannot lie totally stretched so I'm sleeping diagonally :) There's a little bedside table and a small couch. It's quite cosy - except I seem to have acquired fleas or bedbugs :( which is a big pain and I don't know what to do about it. The resources you would normally have accessible seem like a distant fairy tale of the past... I might ask the local health post tomorrow what the locals do about this as I assume this is not a first occurence.
The toilet (squatting kind) and the shower is in a shed outside and is quite clean. I have so far braved it and had one cold shower - I don't think it's something I will get addicted to. It helps that the days are still relatively warm and sunny (21-23 degrees) although you can feel the winter coming; the morning and evening temperatures drop to around 12 degrees.
Today (Monday 8 Nov) is the last day of Diwali and so they last 3 days have not been average (I think), but until now the day starts at around 7-7.30. We have a cup of tea and around 9.30, breakfast --> daal bhat is served. Basically it takes about 2 hrs to prepare - cook the rice, make the lentil soup, make the tarkaari (seasoned vegetables - the sort vary from potatoes to courgette to radish) and achaar - the pickle which at ours is tomatoes cooked with onion and chili to a salsa type sauce. And it's all done over a fire...I'm truly impressed. It's really really delicious and I didn't think that I would enjoy eating a full-blown hot meal for breakfast, but I guess you can used to most things. Like doing laundry by hand...It's time-consuming and hard work. You come to appreciate modern appliances - things most of us take for granted.
Talking about that - electricity is quite precious. We do have it, but the power cuts are more and more frequent these days as we are approaching winter. Most of Nepal rely on hydro-power and this is at its lowest in winter time. I have just bought some more candles to see me through the next couples of weeks.
Well, it's time for me to log off for now - I need to catch the bus back to the village before it get's dark. The roads are not a safe place to be after dark - just because there are no lights and the roads are narrow and winding and the bus drivers and motorcycle drivers are not exactly the most cautious of drivers.
So until next time!