Namaste from Nepal Everybody!
We are three weeks away from the end of our mandate, and our return to Canada. It is going to go by fast, and there is so much left to do. The monsoons in Nepal are supposed to have started, and yes there has been rain, but not as much as expected. It is hot, and by hot I mean really hot! I was in Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace, in the south of the country following my second weeklong field trip and it was close to 40C, my fan wasn’t working, but I digress.
The food here is delicious, and you get to eat it with your hands. Completely changing you perception of cleanliness and what is allowed as slurping sounds and general Western table manners, which is fantastic. It takes a little getting used to when it comes to eating with your hands, but a little observation of the local people, especially the children, a few trie, a few handfuls of food crashing onto to table or floor, and you get the hang of it.
My purpose in Nepal is primarily to develop a documentary for the Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL), as mentioned in our profiles. The documentary is there to highlight the success stories stemming from the NACCFL’s work throughout the country. That being said, 2 week long field trips were taken in order to visit over 10 districts over 1000km stretch of the southern part of the country. Needless to say that I have seen a lot of the country, and met a lot of people. Yes, I am aware that my presence as an outsider and a volunteer influences the way people would treat me, but unlike other volunteer projects I have participated in, the people here are exceptionally nice. They give and they give and they give, and you offer to pay and they refuse grabbing your money putting it back in your hand and pushing you forcefully clenched fist back to your body, and say: “No. Thank you, but no. It is our pleasure to help you with this, and invite you into our home(s).” Rarely have I ever witnessed this sort of generous behaviour before!
People are keen to help in any which way they can, and if you need anything they know who to ask in order to get it, or they will find out who can find out about it. Not knowing much of the language but being able to have a basic conversation from introductions to talking about the way the wind sways through the trees and cools the valleys in a broken Nepali is great! It gets people interested in you because you showed an interest in them, their culture and the way they speak. A good rule of thumb I have been following when it come sot language and going to another country is:
You are a guest in this country. Learn the language, even if it just knowing how total about yourself (age, origin, marital status, etc.) it will do a world of god for you and your relationships with the country you are visiting, and is a good demonstration of goodwill when you are there and looking for help to do some things (like complete your mandate for instance!).
It is not always a piece of cake though. There are a lot of obstacles that can get in your way when trying to work abroad. The language barrier being the least of you worries. A flat tire, or a rockfall blocking the main road out of the moutons for a whole morning for instance. Or how about social hierarchies that fail to comprehend the importance of social inclusion because the socialization of these people has made them blind to the discrepancies between the rights of peoples living within the same villages? I have had my blood brought to a boil trying to get my mandate completed by flat out pointing of the finger at the upper class saying that the lower class is not worthy of an interview because they do not know things! Other instances of this have happened as well concerning women, an the overpowering egos of men cutting them off mid interview, and so and so forth, but in the end I am still hopeful for a good result although it may not be completed on time for the lack of translators available at the moment. That is another issue however.
Weekends are for a bit of work, even when visiting other places, and some social time with locals and language training when going to do groceries at the local markets. Daily activities start when the sun comes up so around 4 in the morning and end shortly after sunset around 10pm. During the day honking, chatting, laughing, and all sorts of things happen all over the streets as that is where the social life is most abundant, and it is fantastic to watch no matter how little of the language you know!
With all of this said, I am sad to be leaving in such little time as this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding their culture and forming new long lasting relationships with new friends and all of the other people that one knows through them!
Allas, I will have to leave, but it won’t be empty handed as there will be the memories such as these:
Thank you very much!