I’m going to preface this post with a note to my mom, because I know she’s reading this. Mom, I’m totally fine and alive and nothing bad has happened to me.
When I arrived to Kathmandu there was a strike going on. A new prime minister was just instated recently, but was not elected by the people. With good reason, the people of Nepal were very upset. Fortunately for me, I must have arrived at the tail end of it, because I didn’t really see much besides a couple of closed shops and I only really heard people talking about it more than anything. Also, I was constantly reassured by my volunteer coordinator that tourists are left alone during the strikes.
Regardless, I made a quick pass through Kathmandu. Long enough to eat some momos and see the temples at Patan’s Durbar Square. Kathmandu is a busy tourist city, and even if you’re not someone seriously suffering from jet-lag, it’s still sensory overload to walk through the streets.
A couple of other volunteers and myself were given a tour around the temples in Patan. It was hard keeping everything straight. So far, the only god I can really recognize is Ganesh. And that’s because he has an elephant head. Don’t ask me about any of the others; I have no clue. Still it was an impressive display of temples
The second morning, I woke early to take a bus down to Chitwan, where I’m currently staying in a small village called Sauraha, for two weeks volunteering at a day care center and teaching some of the local women in the village English. I have been staying with a host family and two other volunteers. We have a busy schedule: beginning the day early hanging out with the local children before they go to school, then working at the daycare center with the younger children (who are about 3 or 4 years old), followed by teaching English to some of the women in the village and ending with playtime with the older kids again. Our host mother is really kind and feeds us so much Dal Bhat (curried lentil stew over rice, with jungle spinach), twice a day every day.
Chitwan is so much different than Kathmandu. It’s so much more peaceful, the air is cleaner and the people are even more friendly, despite poorer living conditions (many people in the village don’t have electricity or running water). The kids are great (although they can get pretty rambunctious at times) and the women are really interested and eager to learn English. The women here are amazingly strong and resilient. I think they truly are the backbone of Nepali society, working non-stop to take care of everyone, from running the household to working in the field; they do it all.
I really can’t describe to you what it’s like to live here, walking down the road to the library and daycare center. It’s surreal. The kids make it so much fun though. As soon as they see you coming, they run after you screaming, “miss, miss!” and will walk with you to the library. The women are warm and welcoming and greet with you with “namaste”. The men of course just stare, bewildered. And of course because it’s impossible to tell what ethnicity I am, I have been asked by everyone I’ve encountered if I’m Nepali. I’m going to start saying yes.