Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tidbits from Nepal

The last 36 hours have been total sensory overload. Things are so different here, and I feel like I've landed on another planet. The people are so friendly. Although the electricity in the dity is cut for 16 hours a day, and you never seem to know when you will have hot water or reliable lighting. They do have a lot of solar panels for back-up, but usually use candles in the night when there's no power. Tomorrow, I will move in with a host family on the NE side of Kathmandu, and start working in an orphanage there. I hope to learn some Nepali recipes from my host mom. There is also another girl from NY who is already there and doing the same thing.

Yesterday, I went for a walk around the touristy area, Thamel. It seems like you can find everything here, but the streets are super windy and crowded. In the morning, I had a lesson in Nepali culture. The caste system from Hinduism is officially outlawed, but it seems to underly a lot of things here. And arranged marriages were the norm until this generation. Still are in the countryside. Killing a cow here merits a two year prison sentence, so they wander the streets and eat from the garbage piles. There are stray dogs everywhere and they are really cute, but really docile.

In the afternoon, some people from Hope and Home took me and a French volunteer out sight-seeing. First, a Buddhist temple and the biggest stupa in the city. It was the full moon, so many people were there walking aroujnd the stupa and praying. (Always walk clockwise). There were prayer flags hung all over it, which gave a very colorful hue to the scene. Second, a Hindu temple. We could go into the temple itself, but walked all around the complex. They were doing cremations by the bank of a little river, and then the ashes were washed into the stream. Monkeys were everywhere and seemed to own the place. It was a really huge complex and there were a lot of people out here too.

For dinner, we were taken to a traditional Nepalese place with dancing. The food was amazing and the atmosphere really nice. I love the food here: curries, lentils, veggies, and yogurt. And they make their tea with milk instead of water. Mmmm.

Today, I have a fast Nepalese lesson and more sight-seeing to the monkey temple, which supposedly has a lot more monkeys. Best wishes to everyone back home! I miss you


Elsabeth said...

Ali, I miss you too! I'm really enjoying reading all about your travels. I'm loving it because it's like having a bit of adventure with you without having to do all the scary bits. Kinda cheating, I suppose. :P

Tiffany said...

Hey Ali, This all sounds remarkably like India, especially the part about cows eating garbage. I'm glad you are experiencing life without some of the conveniences Americans so take for granted. Really makes you appreciate how lucky you are to be born into the US, and what an incredible standard of living it really is. Anyway, keep blogging - I love to read it!
ps. don't get too close to those cute dogs and monkeys - you never know about rabies!
pps. if you plan on taking train trips when you get to India, you may want to buy tickets soon since they can get booked up if you wait too long. there is a really cool india forum that I found helpful for trains and such:

Beth said...

It sounds really different. You know how I feel about carnivorous cows (okay they aren't carnivorous they just look carnivorous). I hope you learn some Nepalase recipes too. I had my surgery which went well. I miss you. Love. Mom