On December 15th, we will be deployed to the Chankhu village in the Besi Thaau (place) where we will individually stay for 1 week with our assigned Nepali family. Armed with only our courage, enthusiasm and basic Nepali language knowledge, we will attempt to harmoniously live, eat, sleep, bathe, converse, laugh, argue, be confused, do house work, take out the garbage, etc. with our Nepali counterparts. The purpose of this stay is to provide us an even more enriching Nepali cultural experience.
Nervous? Naturally somewhat. Worried? A little but more worried about the unknowns. Excited? Most definitely.
Along with our language training, we were also trained by our gurus about some important Nepali customs and living habits such as:
- Always greet and part ways with people by saying Namaste while holding your hands in prayer and slightly bowing.
- Always addressing the head of the family first (usually the men).
- Taking off your shoes before entering a home and arranging them appropriately.
- ALWAYS washing your hands before eating (even if they are already clean).
- Eating with our right hand (sorry left-handed people), with no utensils, while sitting in a circle on the floor.
- Using your right hand to pass things (left hand is considered un-pure). It is more polite to hand things with both hands.
- Adding “Ji” after someone’s name when addressing/calling them to show respect (ie. RexJi or TlellJi)
- How to bathe outside in public (it is good to be a male).
- Tips on using the pit latrine (always an adventure).
- Cleaning our clothes in a bucket and where to hang them.
- How to request or decline particular foods or additional servings.
- Being bombarded with questions and how to respond to uncomfortable ones. Topics such as family, marital status, salary, the reason why you don’t have kids yet, etc. Hmmm, it feels like being at home.
Communication (or lack there of) with the family is naturally the main concern amongst our group. We can all speak short and concise sentences (broken Nepali in my case) but hearing what people are saying is always a challenge. As well, concerns about food, sanitation, and health safety concerns has also been swirling around the camp and will be discussed in the next few days (five 20-litre barrels of purified water will also be provided for us).
We are the first VSO volunteers to stay at this village and if all goes well, future volunteers will continue to do so in the future.
We will not have access to our laptops or the Internet during our stay and so we’ll provide a full detailed report once we are back in Kathmandu.
Wish us luck!