A Travellerspoint blog

The Dragonfly and Kleenex

Language and Culture

sunny 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 !

Posted by LiseD 15:19 Archived in Nepal Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)


In case your wondering I will write about the children later on this week - that will be a long enter so I thought I would start with the smaller topics first.

We went the Teej Festival - a Hindu festival for women. The women dress in red saris - it is really a nice sight - all these women dressed in red with bracelets.

I will start by talking about the bracelets. The day we arrived at the orphanage was the day they decided to get all the females bracelets for the festival as we would be attending the following day.

Did I mention I am twice the size of women in Nepal? Anyway off we go to the bracelet shop. Everyone gets bracelets - Tina who is the right size for Nepal has no issue - she gets her bracelets. Then it is my turn - they went with the biggest bracelets they had in the shop. This bracelet lady has a grip on her - she had my thumb bent all the way to my little finger while pushing my hand together. It hurt - but they got all 21 bracelets on. That was great - but how was I ever going to get them off. After a couple of days the swelling from flying and the heat made my hands a little smaller so I was able to get them off. My fear was that I would need to wear these things for 2 months.

Back to the Teej Festival - we went to the temple of Vishu which is all out doors. Lots of fruit, water, candles, etc. are offered to the various gods. The interesting thing about this Women's Festival is that it is really about men. The women do not eat or drink anything for 24 hours - by doing this it will ensure if they are married that their husband will have good health and if the women are not married it will ensure that they find a good husband. Nothing to do with women.
It was very interesting to see a Hindu Festival and take a look at all the rituals.

Since our arrival one of the girls had her first period - or mahinahbahri as it is called here. When that happens the girl can not go near where food is prepared. She must also not touch any male member in the family and basically stays at home as she can not go to school. This goes on for 7 days - on the 7th day she is washed from head to toe. This is a long way from what would happen prior to 2005 when women were exiled to cow sheds for four days every time they had their period - so things have improved.

Again it is all very interesting!

Posted by LiseD 21:29 Archived in Nepal Tagged women Comments (0)

Washroom ????

The washroom issue is one of the things that I find difficult. I really did not pay attention when I first arrived and was given a tour of the orphanage. Later that evening Tina had used the washroom and said - it is what I thought - a squat toilet. I thought to myself - I am not going there ! I am not sure what I thought I would do. So come 1 a.m. I am thinking I should have paid more attention to this squat toilet thing. Anyway about 2:30 a.m. I go out into the hall - but with all the doors shut I am unsure which is the washroom. So back to my room I go - about 4:30 a.m. I hear some of the children so I go out into the hall and they show me the right door and how to turn on the light. And once I walked in - there it was - the squat toilet. My biggest fear is falling over - that would not be good.

The second thing about this washroom is the shower on the wall - to shower stalls here. However I do not use the shower as it is very cold water so I use the big tap underneath the shower head - it is better. I have found that bodywash does not foam up very good or come off - so I fear that during one of those rain downpours I will bubble up. At least I smell not so bad.

I so much miss flush toilets and hot water !!!

Posted by LiseD 21:12 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Reality Bites

On the 8th of Sept something odd was going on - at about 8:30 a.m. I noticed that the children were hanging around - usually they are on the 2nd story of the house next door waiting for food. I asked one of the children if they were going to eat - they told me - no food today. I thought that was odd but they have many different types of festivals involving fasting so I thought it was one of those things.

It turns out that the orphanage had run out of food and money. They would not get money again until Sunday which was 6 days away. Thank you to all those people who gave me money as the orphanage was able to buy 4 bags of rice for a little less then a $100 - it started off as one but we decided to buy 4 bags so it will last a little longer. Rice is a main staple of the diet here and these children due eat big mounds of rice.

I wish I could do more as the rice diet, lack of medical and dental really takes a toll on these children - it is heart breaking.

Just a side note - most families in Nepal live on less then $2-3 US dollars a day and that includes shelter.

Posted by LiseD 20:59 Archived in Nepal Tagged food Comments (0)



To make things a little easier I have decided to break things down in sections to cover everything that has happened during the past week. I will start with food.

At 7:00 a.m. we have sweet strong tea with a cookie; at 9:00 a.m. we have daal bhaat tarkar (lentil soup, rice & curried vegetables); at 4:00 p.m. we have tea again and at 8:00/30 p.m. we have the daal bhaat tarkar again. Every day is pretty much the same except for the vegetables change and once in a while you get an egg.

The way you eat the daal bhaat tarkar is a follows;
- pour the soup on top of the rice
- mix this with the vegetables or not - it depends on what you like
- mix the food around with your right hand
- pick it up and it eat it

Eating food with your hand is very tricky. You have to mix it just right or you end up with food everywhere. I am a learning but it is slow. The trick is to use your thumb to slide the food into your mouth.

I don't eat with the children but with the mother, daughter and sometimes with one of the older girls. There are all sorts of rules that are hard to understand.

The children eat on the roof top - it is really the second story of the house that has not been finished. Some of the boys chop the wood for the stove. It is very hard to explain - however I will not be able to download pictures until the end of Sept as the computers in this town are very old. Anyway the first two days that I was here, the children did all the cooking for themselves. Before school about 3 or 4 of the children would cook the rice and vegetables for 27 children.

As it turns out there is actually a lady who does the cooking for the children - she was away for a few days. However the children still do a lot of the work as there is no running water near the stove - they spend a lot of time hauling stuff up and down the stairs.

For a snack after school the children get bread - lots of bread. It is handed out to them from this bag that is filled with all sorts of white bread. I am not sure where it comes from but I do see the children coming down the road with this bag. I did get pictures of the handing out of the bread. It's all interesting.

Mean while back at the other house (there are two houses side by side - one where the girls and the family sleeps and the other for the boys) the mother would cook my meal using a gas tank - I think it is propane ?? - anyway that kind of freaked me out just a bit.

I should also say that there are no tables here- so you sit on the floor which is cement (they do put down a blanket on the floor for me). Everyone else squats and hold their plates in front of them. I thought I would try this - I toppled over in no time - at least they had a laugh.

The other thing I should say is that the dishes are just rinsed under water - and that would be cold water as there is no hot water here. The dishes are quickly rinsed under the water and put o the cement outside to dry. It is always great to see the children playing with the dishes or all the dirt flying around them and next thing you know you are eating from this plate.

I drink a lot of bottled water - about 2 or 3 liters a day. It is very cheap here about 25-30 cents a bottle. The water here is very bad - you even have to brush your teeth with bottled water and you are not to eat anything that has a skin like an apple unless you wash it with bottled water.

So that is the food section.

Posted by LiseD 20:28 Archived in Nepal Tagged food Comments (0)

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