“Namaste saathi! (I salute the god in you, friends!)
I returned last night back to Thamel from the training village of Bistachap. I decided to cut my training short to 5 days (instead of so that I could start my placement sooner in the children’s homes. I’ll be missing some language training, but I seem to have trouble remembering any Nepali unless I have my book in front of me anyway.
We arrived in Bistachap on Friday after a bus ride that felt more like being on a rickety boat on very rough seas. At least we each had a seat to ourselves…as luxury that I think I will miss when I have to ride the local bus. One by one we were led to our host family houses (which were mostly all along the same road). The village is quite small and most houses line one or two roads. The houses don’t look like what we would consider houses…they are mostly simple square structures with a sloped roof and they are made of burnt red bricks. On one side of the village are hills with an interesting type of forest that has no underbrush, and on the other side of the village are beautiful sprawling green patchworks of wheat, separated by tiny clay pathways where the women haul huge baskets of wheat through the fields (with the basket balanced against their back and held up with a piece of cloth around their foreheads). It’s incredible to see these tiny, old women carrying these immense loads. Put’s my level of fitness to shame!
I met my aamaa (mother), bahini (little sister), bhaai (little brother), and bubaa (father) and was shown my room on the second floor. It was actually a surprisingly nice room... The family was quite quiet, but I didn’t mind sitting with them in silence while they chattered to each other in Nepali. We had language lessons during the day in one of the houses, and had daal bhaat at home with our host family. I never actually got to eat with my family (I think maybe there wasn’t enough room in the kitchen for all of us, so I got served first). I was served daal bhaat once by the father, once by the son, and once by the mother, which I thought was really neat since I was told that it is only the mother that traditionally cooks and serves food and generally has domain over the kitchen. Regardless of who served me, however, they sat and watched me eat and as soon as I finished, offered to fill my plate again. It sounds awkward, but I didn’t mind at all…I figure you have to jump in to the culture totally, and your experience is much better. I think it will take a while before I can even hope to pack away as much daal bhaat as a Nepali can.
I also had my first experience using a charpi (squate toilet), which is basically a ceramic hole in the ground…we had a demonstration of how to use the toilet during training…I’ll have to show you when I get home. Also, Nepali’s do not use toilet paper, they just wash with water. I, however, snuck in my toilet paper roll.
My house also had 6 or 7 goats (who lived right beside the kitchen), and a puppy who regularly attacked me. One day I came back from language training and saw my bahini bathing in the backyard under a hose (bathing is done publicly in Nepal). I thought I might as well experience that part of the culture as well, so I got in to my “shower dress” (I can show you that demo too) and came to wash under the freezing cold hose. It was actually a perfect experience and I loved it. Who knew washing could be so liberating?
On our way out of Bistachap we visited all the children’s homes that we could potentially be placed in to volunteer. There is one near Bistachap and they did a performance for us (Nepali songs and dances) because it was a special holiday that day. Today I will find out which home I’ll be placed in to for the next 4 weeks before I take a break to do the Annapurna trek.
I’m sure I’ve missed many details of my experience in Bistachap (which I really loved), but I only have a few minutes before I have to try to meet a potential hiking partner at the bakery. I have discovered one thing though: going to bed at 8:30pm and waking up at 6am is wonderful!”