Thursday, 16 August 2012
Second batch of GapBreak students get acquainted with the Nepali way of life
WRITTEN BY: Brendan Dennis
It’s difficult to articulate the bizarre nature of our broad ranges of amazing experiences during our first weeks in Nepal. There is an incredible contrast of the serenity of the village, and the bustling nature of the cities. We have all been hit with our bout of home sickness, and almost all been inflicted with a round of illness.
Immersed into a new and seemingly perplexing lifestyle, we all still seem to be precariously resting on it’s edge. All these unfamiliar circumstances leave me feeling slightly lost in attempting to put fifteen days of experiences into only twice as many hundred words.
It’s not nice to think of myself as being in a helpless and hopeless ‘lost sheep’ situation, however I feel obliged to embrace this title based on our experiences in the first few days in Nepal, spent in Kathmandu. On our third day we did a cultural tour of the Kathmandu valley. The list of ‘must see cultural sites of Kathmandu’ included visiting the holy river into which the ashes of cremated bodies fall, and at which we were confronted with the upsetting yet beautiful experience of seeing someone being cremated. Other sites included the "monkey temple", the main Buddhist temple in Kathmandu and a visit to see the world's only living goddess, aside from my own mother.
Kathmandu's main tourist hub has a different attraction. We love the bars, wining and dining and having a chinwag with fellow travelers and the locals. The food is exciting and dirt cheap, not to mention it comes with a free cocktail that always seems more heavy on the ‘cock’ than the ‘tail’.
I have never been in the misdt of anything as busy as daily life in Kathmandu. As far as traffic goes I have never seen more near misses, or rather near hits, ever in my life. We are just getting used to the idea that honking your horn in Kathmandu is less of a hateful expression of aggression, and more of just a friendly way of saying ‘I don’t want to kill you.’
The village on the other hand exists on the opposite end of the spectrum. To get from the boys house to the other houses, we literally have to run through a cornfield. It is entirely calm, aside from a few over excited children who will do anything to hold your hand. Everyday we walk half an hour to and from school, as well as teaching from 10 till 4, eating four meals a day, reading, playing guitars, dancing, spending an hour a day learning Nepali as well as endless playing with the kids. Our days are full but always seem to be relaxed.
Mum’s back in Australia, we are all fine. We’ve all been ill apart from Vanessa, Aidan and myself; and of the fallen all have made a full recovery. We all love teaching, and are now finding our feet in it.
From the first day in Nepal we were told not to miss Gai Jatra where everyone in Bhaktapur leaves their house and starts dancing all day to show their love for loved ones who've passed. Sure enough, it was EVERYONE. Smashing sticks together and creating such music and dance and joy that the city it's self felt alive. Our hands are red raw and tender having spent our time hitting the clapping sticks and dancing
with locals. We even took time out to have a look at the national art museum.
If there could be any testament to the incredible attention to detail these sculptures and art works that this immensely rich culture produces, it is the paintings which took up to ten years to compose, and take almost as long to fully appreciate.
But none of these anecdotal descriptions capture the immensity of our experience so far. However, one experience that comes close is teaching. The children instantly become infatuated with you. Our hands always have a line of kids waiting to have a hold.
They have an unbelievable willingness to learn and for the most part are entirely
respectful. They're English isn't great, they understand little more than is expected of ten year olds living in rural Nepal, but despite this they smile. And when Nepali kids smile, they smile with everything. They smile with their hearts, and their outstretched arms and most of all their eyes.