Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm Leaving on a Jetplane, Don't know When I'll be Back Again...

In 6 hrs I will be on my way to the airport - my stay in Nepal for this time is coming to an end. It's been such a wonderful, exciting and beautiful visit - and I'm sure I will be back again. I just don't know when... (I have already been invited to all my host siblings weddings - 4 in total! :)
I spent one more night with the host family and returned yesterday. It was awful to say goodbye; it really hurts. And this sad feeling of parting with my Nepali family made me all the more determined to come back as soon as time and money will allow it. I don't know how they do this emotionally - letting volunteers into their lives only to say goodbye again after a relatively short term, but hopefully they don't get equally attached to everyone who stays with them. That would just be too much in the long run.
Despite feeling sad to leave, I also do look forward to going home. I can't wait to see my husband tomorrow - It will be so amazing to be united again - Yes, baby, I'm coming home!!
And there are other things to look forward to; I'm going to enjoy a loooong, steaming, HOT shower and it will be so nice that I don't have to go outside to use the bathroom or when I brush my teeth. But I know these are all luxury things that I will get used to very fast and take for granted...

Goodbye Nepal, take good care of yourself till we meet again. 
All my love,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A comparison

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest country in Asia. 80% live for under $2 a day and 40% live below the poverty line. In July this year it was estimated that there are about 29 mio. inhabitants in Nepal , and about 17 mio. In the Netherlands.
The median age in NP is 21 years, in NL 41 years.
And some more numbers:
Urban population: NP 17%; NL 82%

GDP per capita: NP $1,200; NL $39,400
Mobile phones: NP 4.2 mio; NL 19.9 mio
Internet hosts: NP 43,900; NL 12.6 mio

The literacy in NL is 99% for both men and women. The national literacy rate in Nepal is 49%, but only 35% for women.
And speaking about women; they have a hard time in Nepal. They usually work harder and longer than men and for less reward. They only truly gain status in traditional society when they give birth to a son. (Apparently a man can legally take a second wife if the first has not had a child after 10 years of marriage.) However, I have met many women whose husband has taken a second wife even though the first wife has given birth to children – even sons. I guess one of the reasons for this could be that the first is an arranged marriage whereas the second is a so-called ‘love-marriage’.
Arranged marriages is still the norm, but now and again you do hear about a love-marriage. I heard that a young couple from one of the villages - who are in love with each other and are seeing each other without their parents' knowing are trying to trick their parents into setting them up together in an arranged marriage. I hope they succeed.

6 seconds of free falling...

of my own free will... I even paid for it!

Saturday morning very early we were a couple of volunteers who jumped on a bus to go near the Tibetan border to do bungy jumping and canyon swinging. The latter is similar to bungy jumping except the cord is attached to your waist - not your ankles, and after taking the step into the 160 metres of air below you when the cord tightens, you will be swinging back and forth a couple of times instead of up and down.
Yes, it is damn scary! And yes they must earn loads and loads on the DVD you can buy afterwards...But once I was back with ground under my feet I was very tempted to sign up for a second swing (which is a third of the price of the first swing, and so is the third; the fourth is FREE!), but didn't. However, having thought about it again, I will HAVE to come back to do a second swing but jumping with my back facing the river. A Finnish girl swore it was so much better than facing the river since you don't have to worry about the cord in front of you and your hands are free...I definitely want to try that! WOOHOO!!!

"Bye, bye, Miss"

Here the female teachers are called 'Miss' and their male counterpart is'sir'. I left school on Thursday afternoon and the teachers had managed to gather some of the children who were done with their exams for the day. The teachers thanked me with a little speech, a thika and a little gift - the Pashupatinath temple made out of carton and displayed in a plastic box. Very kitsch...but the gesture is very endearing.

The kids are doing well; they have almost all mastered simple additions up to 10 and a few have advanced to additions up to 20. They all know the alphabet by heart and they can count to 100. However, it’s so automatic that they have to think hard if you write random numbers on the whiteboard. They know the body parts and they are able to illustrate the verbs: sitting, standing, jumping, running, dancing, laughing, listening and clapping. We have learned the days of the week and played bingo numerous times. They know many animals and how to spell them, but they cannot read yet. We have sung and danced – Hokey Pokey, If you’re Happy and You Know it and The Wheels on the bus Go Round and Round to mention a few classics. It’s been both fun and frustrating at the same time. And though I might not really miss them, they will have a special place in my heart. 

Saying goodbye to the kids was not as hard as expected - which was a relief to be honest. Miss Sarita did explain to them that this was my last day and they nodded their little heads very seriously and started saying "bye, bye, miss" - and that just made me smile. Samundra shouted "I'm fine, miss. How are you?" - one of the only English sentences he know...also very endearing. And I will definitely remember Anil who made sure that I now have a connection to Justin Bieber...Anil always sang "Baby, baby, baby ohh" repeatedly. I think it was the only lyrics he knew of the song. And I could go one; there are so many other sweet memories...But you will have to hear those another time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Candlelight Dinners

I’ve had a few candlelight dinners with the family in the village, but unlike Amsterdam it wasn’t for a romantic reason; it was a practical one as Nepal is under load shedding – a nicer way to say electricity cuts. Around 90% of Nepal’s power comes from hydroelectricity. Much, however, is exported to India and China. Electricity is rationed across Kathmandu, shifting from district to district every eight hours or so. But it is an amazing sky at night when there’s no light. You can see thousands of stars dotted on the black night sky – something that we’re not used to in Amsterdam.