Wednesday, 29 March 2017

#14 Foreign soil

Over the next two weeks I settled into the slow, steady rhythm that is Nepali life.

Walking anywhere with Ganga didi takes twice as long as it normally would because she stops to chat to everyone she knows. It's very similar to going anywhere with my own mother (😉 eh Mum).

School is only four hours everyday, except Saturdays which we have off, so I unexpectedly have a lot of down time. During this free time I mainly dream about chocolate, where to find it and how quickly I can get it out of the packet and into my belly. It's a sad state of affairs. I think daal bhat twice a day has left me deficient in something resulting in the most all consuming cravings.

There also has had to be a slight change of plans. The time I had chosen to volunteer actually included two weeks of school holidays. The first I'd heard of this was last week. I could stay and help redecorate the school with the teachers in the holidays but they really need a native English speaker to help teach English. Luckily I hadn't made any plans as is the theme of this trip/my life.

So Ganga didi suggested it would be best for the school if I did my sightseeing during this time and then come back to finish volunteering after the holidays. I agreed because after all I didn't really come for the sightseeing. I came to work and be of some help so that is what I will do and means I'll be in Nepal until around mid May.

The other day Ganga didi took me to her garlic plantation and we did some good old fashioned gardening. Amongst the garlic were casual Ganja plants growing. It's native here and only illegal if you grow it on purpose so we pulled them out like they were...well... weeds. There's nothing quite like getting foreign soil under your nails to make you feel like you're really getting to know a country.

Ganga is a wonderful host and includes me in everything she does - even going Saree shopping with her girlfriends. It was an interesting allbeit slightly tedious experience only because I couldn't tell what anyone was saying.

I trailed behind the women as they giggled like school girls and tried to figure out how they bargain. I still find that part of life so awkward. It's essentially a form of conflict and I instinctively want to shy away from it even though I know shop keepers expect it. It's just such a difficult concept to get your head around when you come from a culture where no one really likes to ask for a discount.

I watched their facial expressions and body language and decided it's best to decide on the price you'd like to pay and then work your way down to that with the seller. To do this you need some idea about the real value of the item however which is why shopping takes so long. You have to shop around a bit first.

This evening Ganga didi and I went to a festival in a neighbouring village with some ones volunteers and Sanju, the director of another volunteering organisation and guide who I will be trekking with in April.

It was basically just a big party that happens once a year when they bring out a statue/idol from the temple and wash it. There were drums, symbols, horns and people packed into the town square area.

People were dancing and leaning out of windows all around. Every now and then someone would toss some of the water they were using to wash the idol into the crowd much to everyones excitement.

It was such a happy occasion. Even though this part of the world has so little the people have their priorities right. Friends and family are at the top of that list. We are social creatures and without these two things we cannot possibly live a happy or fulfilled life no matter how many nice things we own.

That old cheesy saying about the best things in life being free rings true once again.

Ganga didi in the garlic fields - Kirtipur, Kathmandu - March, 2017 

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