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Kathmandu in a whirlwind

On my first day, Tsering (from Passage) picked me up from Tribhuvan airport, and after stowing luggage at the Bed and Breakfast in Thamel, immediately interested me in a tour of Hanuman Temple, Durbar Marg and the royalty museum. Did you know a lot of the kings were big into hunting, and weaponry? One of them even visited Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the 1990s, the home of the Airborne and the military base where one of my sisters is currently stationed with the US Army in 2009. But my favorite part of the first day was relaxing in the courtyard of Café Mitra with many cups of Nepali milk tea. So good!

My home stay family gently eased me into Nepali food. On my first night with them they treated me to dinner of chicken burger and fries at a local chain restaurant. On my second night with them, I enjoyed daal bhat for the first time. Daal bhat is not just any beans and rice. The beans are so creamy it is almost like sipping soup. The rice is basmati – so it is not sticky unlike what one would eat with Chinese or Japanese food. Tarkari (vegetables) were on the side. They were a little too spicy for me – but I just mixed them with daal bhat, and the flavor was great!

Also courtesy of my homestay family, I have been able to continue participating in Christian worship services. My faith is very important to me, and, attending prayer service at Boudha Baptist Church on Wednesday evenings is a welcome mid-week pick me up. When I was homesick and travel sick the first week, I would go sit with some of the boys in the hostel next door. Sometimes, they would be having Christian fellowship with prayer, and singing. Sometimes they were playing a popular 2 to 4 person game called Carmon of which they deigned to explain the rules even though I interrupted their play. J One of the boys, a 16-year-old who had just finished the SLC (an important exam) and has since left to attend Bible college, told me to not feel lonely, but to think of the boys as my brothers and therefore family.

In general, I have been warmed by the friendliness shown to me here in Nepal. It is a far cry from what I imagined would be hostility because I am an American, or unease, because I am Black with African features that are very different from the rest of the population here. But aside from the staring when I first moved to the part of the city where my home stay family resides, I have been accepted as just another city-goer.

Nepalis are (mostly) used to the very different, as with 92 known languages, they entertain a diversity of culture here that is heterogeneously Asian in the way that the United States is heterogeneously Caucasian. Shopkeepers have smiled (without malice) at my halting attempts at Nepali language. Cab drivers have cheerfully engaged me in stilted, but hilarious, conversation. And my officemates at Tilganga Eye Centre were as proud as indulgent parents when I learned to count, read, and write from 1 to 10. J It has come in very handy as I enter data (including patient age, and guardian age) from the satisfaction survey, which I designed for them as part of my work there.

I have a little more than a week left, and I have to say that six weeks has not been long enough. Between working at Tilganga, church, language classes, and the historical city walks, I have engaged in a whirlwind of activity since I came to Kathmandu – yet there is so much of history, art, architecture and culture that I have not yet encountered. I offer my sincerest appreciation to Passage International for making my transition from the USA to Nepal as smooth and painless as possible. (Notice I did not say pain free. Culture shock is a given but manageable, and Passage has taken very good care of me and the other students here this summer). I hope and pray that I will be able to return in a year to continue my work at Tilganga Eye Centre and learning about Nepali culture. But for now, pheri bhetaula (We’ll meet again)!


Written by passageinternational

March 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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