Thursday, 15 May 2014

What it's like to live in a rural Nepali village

PROJECT: Teaching, living with a host family
WRITTEN BY: Jack Murphy


Greetings from rainy Nepal. Apologies for the delay, due in part to my losing a camera ah! Not to worry, the group and I have still managed to catch some stunning photos of our home for the next 3 months. There is so much to talk about but I’ll try to keep it snappy and succinct!

It was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that we left Kathmandu on Sunday. After 3 jam packed days of Kathmandu madness, the group and I were all keen to get out into the country to see where we would be living for the next few months. The bus ride was memorable, mainly due to traffic madness, pollution, lack of roads and the stark difference between the country and the City.

On arrival we were welcomed warmly with our very cheery Nepalese host families and a mug of Nepalese tea (1 part black tea, 3 parts sugar) Yum!

The boys and I were in one house with our host mum Ah-Ma (Mum), our host father Gunraj, and our elder brother and sister Pradeep and Sabina. Everything that is said about Nepalese hospitality is spot on, frequent hot tea and smiles on cue to make us feel well at home.

The Girls’ house, just next to ours is far more loud and crowded with grandmother, grandfather, mum, dad, and four sisters. Sabita, Rachana and the two youngens who we’ve affectionately named Sharon and Muffy. It makes for an eclectic and intriguing mix.

The accommodation is very basic, though kind of quirky and fun to experience! Me and the boys sleep on a mud floor with our sleeping bags, and the girls get beds that are really wooden boards with a little bit of straw for padding. Toilets: squat of course. The boys and I are lucky enough to have a shower, (hose pipe out of the roof). Unfortunately it only comes in one temperature, Cold!

Can’t go any further without mentioning the menu: Dhaal Bhat and milk! Dhaal bhat is pretty much rice, lentil soup and steamed potatoes with spices. Sounds plain I know, but after a full day of teaching little gremlins it is the best to tuck in to. And with the Nepalese hospitality we are never hungry for long. See photos for a visual explanation.

Village life is an experience in itself. Every morning the mums get up at 5 to milk the cows, let the goats out of their little stable (yes we have pet goats, damn cute!) and start the cooking.

Domestic tasks are made a whole lot harder by the absence of electricity and running water. Our constant recycling of clothes could only last so long and a few days in we had to bite the bullet. Never before have we so missed western appliances than during the hour long ordeal that is hand washing a suitcase’s worth of dirty laundry that then takes 48 hours to dry in the wet weather. Still loving the novel experience.

Our day usually starts at 6 with a cup of Nepalese tea and biscuits, and Nepalese classes at 7 with teacher Pradeep. Come 8 the youngens duck off to Bhaktapur (nearest city to our village) for school whilst the mums and the elder siblings head off to the fields to plant, plough or pick the crops.

Teaching for the group starts at 10 and finishes around 1-1.30. Only 3 hours but bloody exhausting! It’s full on and takes a lot of patience but small breakthroughs and their constant, beaming faces make it so worth our while. The cuteness gene seems to be expressed with ridiculous frequency and intensity in this country’s kids. So far the biggest shock arriving in the village has been the state of the school that Mitchell, Anna and I are teaching in. I’ll include some photos, but the place is stark and completely lacking in colour, teaching equipment, pencils, pens and just about everything that makes a school a school. Thankfully, the kids are all very cheery, very naughty, and eager to learn from their new Aussie teacher so not to fret!

Steph, Liv and Bear (Casper) have a better resourced school, complete with early morning marches and a fully kitted out library. Consult the photos for further insight. The kids at their school seem to be far more advanced in English and academics, seeing as the kids that I teach cant even fill out a word search. Enthusiasm abounds but discipline and quietness are skills that need acquiring.

Other than eating and teaching, our days consist of walks around the beautiful hills, playing games with the locals, chilling under pine trees and just relaxing in general. All with the accompaniment of our little stray dog entourage, consisting of our ever present companion SnugglePuff the dog. There’s no pressure to fill every minute of every day with activity so its lovely just to sit and chat, listening to music and playing cards. When you have a view this captivating of cloud-cloaked mountains bathed in the setting sun its way too easy sit back and enjoy. Again consult the photographic genius that is our pictures.

The group and I are quickly adjusting to village life and morale is high! Though for the moment our main point of conversation is what we will be gorging ourselves on in the coming weekend in Kathmandu. So far its mixed dips at OR2k Restaurant, blended oreo shakes, and sizzling brownies and its only Tuesday!

Expect a blog in the next couple of days detailing our adventures around the village and into the cities, we have so much to talk about but I thought id save it for the next blog and keep this one just about the village and our daily life.

Namaste until next week.

Jack and Gang.

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