Monday, October 6th
—Nepalis ask Americans, who live in their community, “What is your Nepali name?” Just as it is often difficult for us to wrap our lips around a Nepali name, they stumble as they attempt to form the sounds that make up our names. Stew and I have simplified our American names to one syllable, but still, it takes a few attempts as Nepalis sound out our names and request that we repeat (“phery bolnus!”), in the hopes of pronouncing the syllable as Americans do. So, it is customary for an American living in Nepal to be given a Nepali name. When Stew and I noticed that more and more of the Peace Corps workers were showing up at Hub Day (the one day per week when we are all in the same classes) with Nepali names, we asked how this naming process occurred. We were told that some of them were given names by host families, some by Nepali friends, some chose a name themselves and some asked Nepalis for a name. Our host family rarely uses given names (they call each other by kinship); our only Nepali friends are Peace Corps volunteers and staff; we had no inclination to select a Nepali name on our own; and it just felt weird to ask someone to give us a name. So, we kinda gave up on the Nepali name idea and when asked for our Nepali name, answered, “Mero Nepali naam hoina”.(I don’t have a Nepali name) But, last week, it happened. We were given Nepali names by one of the language instructors. Stew’s is “Jesz”, which is the name of a friend of the instructor, who always makes her happy….Stew has similar personality traits and reminds her of her friend. Mine is “Kiran”(In Nepali, it sounds like: Key-run…with a little roll to the ‘R’), which means ‘ray of light’. I’m glad it took time for the correct names to appear. It was worth the wait. They hold more meaning for us and were given to us by an amazing woman, who we will remember forever.
Sunday, October 12th
—Respiratory disease is one of the biggest killers in Nepal. Second hand smoke comes in more forms than smoke from cigarettes. In Nepal, the majority of second hand smoke comes from kitchen wood stoves. Most kitchen stoves don’t have chimneys, so as folks cook here, smoke often fills the kitchen and cancers people to death.
Today in technical class, we took part in making of our first ‘Improved Cook Stove’. Our host family received the Stove built for our Peace Corps’ training. Our family broke down their current kitchen stove this morning, and then our cluster (local village training group of five) began work on the new stove at around 11am. The bricks for the skeleton of the stove were made a couple of weeks back professionally, so we made a few for practice (but couldn’t use them because they must dry 5-7 days, before being used on the actual stove. Then we made the mortar, which is made from five parts mud, two parts rice husks, and one part Gobar ….. what’s Gobar, you ask?…. well…..yeah….what is covering my hands up to the elbow and smooshing between my toes? That, my friends, is Water Buffalo shit. That’s right, we have been doused in buffalo shit water. BUT, in two weeks, after the stove dries, our host family will have an improved cook stove and a smokeless kitchen. That’s worth some water buffalo shit between the toes, right?
Stew, caked with buffalo dung, also managed to use a VERY large knife (about 15 times heavier than you’re thinking. Think half a lawn mower blade long, and thrice as thick) to slice his finger. Vee provided excellent first aid. Stew was very happy with the care he received. Now he’s attempting to prevent infection and blood loss by pointing at the sky and keeping his hand well above his heart.
We appreciated the day, but boy it’s been a long one.
In addition to a great learning day, this morning we looked over after class to find the Himalayas out in full view for the first time. It’s pretty crazy to look over and see a looming range filling half the sky, and know how far off it is. This place is insane to look at. Beauty everywhere… Except Stew’s finger… that’s just gross.
Tuesday, October 14th
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!! (it is Monday, October 13th in the U.S.)
We are all sitting in the dining room of the motel, where Peace Corps volunteers meet once a week for ‘whole group’ training. Nothing was planned this afternoon. Many of us came here in the hopes of internet access; some came to dig cold weather clothes from their deep storage bags (It is getting cooler and our winter clothes are stored here in a motel room); a few came by because they got soaked while doing an outdoor assignment in the nearby Bazaar(marketplace) and the motel was closer than home. We’ve got a big thunder boomer going on outside, so….no internet……no electricity…..but, great company sharing snack-size American candies (care packages from home), eating yummy hot cup-a-soup, and drinking Dude Chia(spiced tea with milk). Lots of wet people laughing together…..sitting at long tables….studying….sharing stories. Good times. Hope the storm lets up before long, though. Most of us have to make quite a hike up muddy paths to get home (Bistaari!! Chiplo!!”Walk slowly! It’s slippery!))….and an early curfew. Picture a bunch of Americans slip-sliding through ankle deep mud, as they rush up hills looking left and right for Leopards, to a chorus of Nepalis standing outside their homes yelling “Bistaari! Chiplo!!”
Wednesday, October 15th
We made our first foray out of our village today. We split up, health sector volunteers took a bus to the District Health Center, while the agriculture sector volunteers visited the district agricultural center. Vee’s group discussed the structure of the health system with a Nepali who spoke English. Stew’s group talked with some of the chief agricultural officers through one of PC’s interpreters.
It is very strange to speak English, which is often understood, but not spoken here. Still, it is even stranger to have Nepali spoken, and then translated by an English speaking Nepali. Layers upon layers of communication issues……Kinda like playing a game of ‘telephone’. I’ve always respected translators, but the PC experience has increased the depth of my compassion for their difficult job. People are hard enough to understand as-is, but add a different language to that… ugh.
The trip to and from the district center had extreme curves, steep side drop-offs and tons of breath-taking near misses from busses and trucks passing each other on narrow roads with motorcycles in between zipping in and out of each lane. If you got bored of that, you might watch the Himalayan line up stretching forever across the North. Or the abandoned festival swings (Ping) hanging from long bamboo poles, or the people waiting for busses, or the planted terraces contouring the mountains, or the prayer flags slowly dethreading to heaven…
Such a strange, lovely place.
Thursday, October 16th
Hubday! Today is site announcement. This means that all 30 of us find out where, in Nepal, we will be sent…..after we make it through basic training and are sworn in next month….(around November 17th). Very exciting! Some are going to the Midwestern districts….some are going to the Far West, which is like…..a 3-4 day rough bus ride to reach from here (even though we are currently in the Western part of Nepal and Nepal is the about the size of Tennessee). We are all so very excited!
We now have our assignments. We can’t put the exact locations on-line (for security reasons), but we are very very happy and our new home is not too far from Pokhara (one of Nepals largest cities). A beautiful place….we hear. Vee will be working at a health post and Stew will be working at an agriculture center. We may have an opportunity to work with schools, farmers and mothers’ groups…..we’ll see. But, for now, we have a location for our next two years. Whoa.
We got our first care package today……filled with goodies. The weird thing is that the items I think I was most excited about were the packing material (crumbled paper towels….whoot!!) and a ziplock bag stuffed with those small condiment packs you find in fast food restaurants. Oh mi Gawd……ketchup….mustard….bbq sauces…..vinegar……American things I miss most. I think I would be happy with a care package full of only condiment packs snuggled in paper towels. This Nepali me is odd.
- Peace Corps StagingSeptember 4th, 2014
Peace Corps Blogs:
- Celine's Nepali Adventure
- Nepal Ramblings
- Stephanie's Adventures - Blog
- Nadine's Namibia
- let us cross over the river,
- Christina "Ceejay" Blake
- Ma Pani Janchu Timi Sanga
- daal bhaat
- Kesehatan Mental Psikologi
- Life as a HAM: Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal!!! : >
- Adventures in Wonderland
- Letters to Devahuti
- Kerry's Adventures in Peace Corps-Nepal
- The Girl Who Found It
- This is my life
- Cardamom and Rice
- A New Journey
- Namaste, Nepal
- Waldo Is My Hero: Some Jazz from Peace Corps Nepal
- Amanda Bensel
- GOT RICE ON RICE ON RICE