Morning friends and neighbors 🙂
The countdown till my departure from Nepal has begun and I realized I hadn’t shared anything with you for far too long. Last weekend I was in Pokhara with two friends I had made the previous weekend while visiting elephants. These delightful people were a blast to hang out with and did NOT talk me into renting a scooter which I then did NOT drive all over kingdom come – Nepal in the rain and did NOT run into a mountainside as a result of forgetting how to stop accelerating. The end result of all of this non-activity was definitely not a large grapefruit-sized bruise on my leg (brief aside: because of the lovely reddish brown skin tone of most Nepali, they don’t actually get picturesque blue-purple bruises like yours albino-ly does and the girls here at the house are most alarmed at the bizarre colors my leg has turned. I have taken to wearing pants.)
I thought we’d spend today (or at least the next 5-6 minutes) learning about what makes Nepal the quirky strange and lovely place it is today. Game? I thought so. I could see it in your eyes. No, it wasn’t an eyelash or a piece of dust, it was desire to know more about the weird side of Nepal. Dude. I’m not gonna TELL or anything, it’s ok, all the coolest folks are up for it. No, really, they are. I promise. OK? Excellent – here we go:
– Nepal smells funky. Like really really funky. No, not like a dump or anything universally vile, just funky. Now, this opinion may be influenced by the recent strike of garbage men and the influx of effluvium into the street, but all in all, Nepal smells like vegetarian F.U.N.K.
– This smell takes over any other small that may be presented in potential opposition. BO holds no candle to Nepali funk smell and all of your clothes and you will eventually take on the funk and own it.
– Pepsi generally costs half of the price of Coke. In rupee, in status, you name it. Pepsi = .5 Coke.
– Fancier even than Coke is anything than comes from the Middle East. If it’s in Arabic then add NR 40.
– All of Nepal has Bieber Fever.
– And Rhianna Fever and Mariah Carey Fever and Celine Dion Fever.
– Even the mens who wear t-shirts of their favorite icons. Including my most recent boss. Hotness.
– The mens also wear loooooong nails – longer than all but the married women are allowed to wear. They file them and shape them and love them and paint them and compare their length on the bus.
– The mens also are extraordinarily (and simultaneously) affectionate and homophobic. Straight men wander the street with finders intertwined, heads on each others shoulders, oggling the asses of passing females. Affection includes cheek kisses, thigh and ass grabs, lingering caresses and all manner of gestures seemingly designed to weird out the clean cut Midwesterners the US keeps sending this way.
– Women do not show this kind of public affection.
– Beds are plywood sheets with a shallow cotton pad on top. Expect routine midnight wakeups with numbleg.
– Additions of cotton padding do not affect the incidence of numbleg. Compacted cotton = sucky sleeping material.
– Nepali will tell you they typically only eat twice a day, at ten and eight, unlike the gluttonous Westerners that eat three times every freaking day of the week. Fatties.
– Despite this assertion, most Nepali eat three times a day, calling the meal of PB&J or a dozen momo’s a “snack” or “the rest of breakfast”.
– They also consume an ungodly amount of Daal Bhat whenever offered. To my knowledge no one, NO ONE (even 20 year old college athletes), can consume the amount of food eaten by a typical Nepali 12 year old at a single sitting. It is remarkable. We serve Thanksgiving dinner off of the average Nepali dinner plate and they go back for seconds.
– Tea is served all the time all the time all the time. It is served at approximately 15 degrees above boiling. I have not met the person that can explain this phenomenon. They can make tea hot enough to scald powdered milk. Tea stays this hot for 10-15 minutes after pouring.
– No matter how poor or emaciated, all Nepali can work a cell phone and cruise the internet.
– Nepal enjoys 100% perfect cell phone coverage across the entire freaking nation. I still cannot drive the length of Colorado (let’s not even talk about NM) without a dropped call. Please explain.
– The difference in the literacy rate among women from urban to rural districts exceeds -30%.
– The rate of domestic violence is similarly inflated by rural environments.
– Suicide is the number one killer of women 18-49 across Nepal, accounting for over 16% of deaths in this age bracket.
– Suicide is typically achieved by poisoning, hanging, burning or stabbing.
– Suicide is the number one cause of death for women of childbearing ages.
– SUICIDE, people.
– Next is childbirth, followed by homicide (typically by the husband or family members).
– Despite this fact, Nepal is actually making amazing progress in health and wellness.
– In the past 8 years they have cut maternal mortality by 50%. They enjoy a 98% immunization rate nationwide (even in the poorest districts, thanks in large part to an incredibly effective education program from a few years back) and almost 0% infection rate for childhood diseases like measles or mumps. In contrast, there are counties in MN that only have a 78% immunization rate for children.
– In the same time frame, the US has managed to increase maternal mortality by almost 10%. Go USA!
– In both urban and rural Nepal, child rearing is seen as a shared responsibility, with fathers actively taking part in daily interactions, discipline and the general up-bringing of kids, male and female alike.
– Children, even the smallest babies wear kohl eyeliner. Supposedly it is to ward off infection and blindness. Personally, I feel it’s to amp up the creep factor. I mean really, you’re looking at a cute child and suddenly the kid turns around looking like something out of The Grudge with real-life freaky anime eyes? CREEPY. Erk.
– Nepali folk, both male and female, find it socially acceptable to exercise the rudest of gestures on a regular basis. Nose-picking abounds, loogey hocking (sp?) is EVERYWHERE and encouraged in small children and public peeing is fine for both men and women in discrete alleyways.
– Nepali mosquitoes put Minnesota mosquitoes to shame. Children die of blood loss from the dastardly beasts (ok, this may not be verifiable fact, but it can’t be far off)
– I will be sad to leave Nepal but grateful for the experience and the amazing people I have met and looking forward to my next visit.
– You should all find some way to visit this incredible and welcoming city. 2011 is the Year of Tourism, come’mon – you know you want to!
I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour through many of the things that I find flat out weird about Nepal. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Meanwhile, there have been some recent additions to the volunteer house and now I have friends to show the ropes to. It seems strange that I could possibly have enough knowledge to show anyone the ropes to this place, but I guess that speaks to their desperation. I have a final sightseeing day planned for tomorrow along with a hopeful day of seeing new friends and hanging out with people for one last time before heading home. I’m hoping for one more posting before I leave for India and lands beyond, and I promise I’ll try to make things more amusing, or at least entertaining so as not to lose you all by line three.
Thanks for sticking with me, I’ll see you all soon and I have waaaay too many pictures to show to anyone with the slightest desire (or frankly anyone with an insufficiently strong aversion).
Much love to you all!
ps: In explanation of the title of this post, I spent the entire posting killing bugs against the wall with my left hand. Sophiya, sitting just to my right, said that I looked like a cowboy picking off bandits with my six-shooter (ok, maybe she just said I looked like a cowboy, but still, the rest was there in intention if not in word, right? Right??)