Language and Culture
11.09.2008 30 °C
Here is a story about a Dragonfly - this little boy and I are standing outside - a group of Dragonflies go by us. They are this wonderful orange colour. We start chasing them around the rice fields - not in the rice fields but around them. The sun is shining and a nice cool breeze is blowing. We are having a good time laughing and chasing the Dragonflies - I tell the boy how much I like these Dragonflies - he says "You like" - I say "Yes I like'. I turned around to look at something else and next thing you know I here this loud noise - the little boy had dropped his backpack full of books - he picks up his backpack and picks up this little dead and flat dragonfly and gives it to me and says 'You like' He was so pleased with himself - I said "I really like but I like it alive" He says "What is this alive" I start flapping my arms around and pretend I am flying - he just looks at me like I am crazy - so I take the dragonfly or pieces of it and say "I like"
It is difficult at times to communicate as I do not speak Nepali however most people here have limited English. (thank goodness) Most of the children speak broken English and at times it is hard for them to understand what I am saying. So I speak in three word sentences and we do find ways to communicate either by showing or doing actions - some words like 'alive' are hard to explain. However we do seem to work through it somehow. Since Tina has left it has been hard for me as there is no one to have a conversation with so I fear by the time I get back to Canada I will be saying things like - 'I go work'
The children's names are hard to learn and also to remember who is who. During the first week I was just starting to get to know some of the names - the children wear the same clothes all week except to go to school - so at least I could get to know them by their clothes. Well the end of the week came and they changed their clothes - so I got confused as to who was who. I have started to call them 'honey' - it is better then calling child by the wrong name. A few days go by after I started calling them 'honey' and this little girl comes to me and says "What is this honey?" I tell her it means that you are sweet and I really like you. A few days go by and then all the girls start calling me "honey". It was very sweet. They usually call me "ahmah" which means mother or they just call me mother. That is better then bajyai which means grandmother.
One day I decide to do a craft - kleenex flowers - I thought a nice easy craft even for the little ones. I don't know what I was thinking - in a culture where blowing your nose is considered rude - it is difficult to find kleenex. I did after a search find some.
So blowing your nose is rude however spitting is not. I don't mean just spitting - I mean full blown sound effects. The first few days I was just grossed out - now I just kind of deal with it - some days are better then others.
The other difference here is that men who are friends walk down the street hand in hand or put their right arm around their friend. I would really like to see that in Edmonton - those oil riggers walking hand in hand to work. Here it is a sign of friendship and respect.
Never pat a child on the top of their head as it is the highest spiritual part of the body. I never realized how often I pat children on the head - I now pat them on their backs.
The other one is to always use your right hand to eat and to shake hands with someone. Never use your left hand as it is considered unclean.
People will pour water in a used bottle and will drink from it - so at supper you will have this bottle of water and everyone drinks from it. While some people may view this as unclean it actually very clean as their mouth never touches the bottle. It is really something to see. Again the other day I thought I would give it a try (with my water bottle) - while they make it look easy it actually is very difficult as I learnt sitting with water all over myself - again they all had a laugh.
One of the big differences here is in regards to age - even if someone is a day older then you - you must respect them and do what they say. I certainly see that with the children. If a younger child has something and an older child whats it the younger child just hands it over. It took me a few days to catch on to that - I would give something to a little one and an older child would just take it. Again this one has been a hard one for me and this is the one thing I really do not like however, it is the way things are here.
Everyday I learn more - so it is always interesting !