zondag 17 april 2011

Banepa, Daal Bhat and the Farmer’s market.

After one week in Banepa I’m happy to be back in Kathmandu! It does start to feel like home…  Especially because my house has a western style toilet and a hot water shower. And not a generator next door to your bedroom. Yes we had a rough time in Banepa. My fellow new volunteers and me where together in one room with one smelly Nepali toilet. But besides all that it is great to see another side of Nepal, besides the main city of Kathmandu and the tourist town of Nagarkot. Banepa is a town where Nepali people live, where every tourist is a specialty and where you can walk from the pension straight  into the fields. At sunset you see white birds nestling in the trees and the kitebirds surfing in the warm air far up in the sky. The language course was continuing according to plan and every afternoon we would venture into the town, see a temple, have a beer or walk through the rice fields. And twice a day we would eat Daal Bhat….

Daal Bhat. Daal = lentils and Bhat = Rice. Daal Bhat is rice with some kind of lentil soup/sauce. I liked it at first. Then I had neutral thoughts about it and now I hate it. Or at least my body hates it. After a few bites I just don’t feel like eating anymore and my bites go slower and slower, until I feel like I either have to stop eating or throw up. I cannot help it! So… at the trainingcenter in Banepa there was Daal Bhat twice a day. Nepali people don’t feel like they’ve had a proper meal without eating Daal Bhat. So Daal Bhat is everywhere. Luckily I have my own kitchen and some nice restaurants around!
A very nice place to go on Saturdays is the Farmers market. This is a small market were people sell western style oriented food. For example: cheese! French pate! Cheesecake! French bread and good fresh cups of filtered coffee. As you might understand: every Saturday the whole expat community of Kathmandu North is present at the Farmers market to either buy or sell food. In the middle there are a bunch of tables in the shade where you can picnic with all the fresh stuff you just bought. An ideal place to meet up with friends for brunch and start the weekend.
So now its only 1,5 week to go before I start working, I don't feel like I am ready for it yet, but will i ever be? I just have to go out there and do it!

vrijdag 8 april 2011

Shopping, Shreeman and Small Nepali Conversations

It has been more than a week since I posted my last blog. Time for an update on what I have been doing. First of all: my apartment! I have spend two nights there now and it is a great place. The only thing is that the geizer, shower and the toilet need some serious plumbing… But that will be done this week. The evening of my first night I invited my new VSO friends to my house. To celebrate they brought flowers and a box full of chocolate cake! We decided that beer and chocolate cake is a good combination J. Next day I cooked for myself the first time in three weeks, I did not know that I would miss cooking so much!
Buying things for my apartment is an adventure by itself. First of all there are no big department stores where you can simply buy everything. Everything is sold in small shops, all over Kathmandu. So the best thing was pretty much to just go bicycling around Kathmandu to look for shops that sell what you need: plates, cutlery, a gas stove, pots and pans, buckets, etc. A bed and curtains were most important. But just mentioning Koen his length would make the Nepali people laugh and shake their head: ‘No we don’t have beds and mattresses in that size’. After some searching I managed to find a carpenter shop and got a bed especially made. After three days it was ready and put on the back of a rikshaw (!!) to be brought to my new home.
If you would find me blogging about a guy named ‘Alex’ who is my Shreeman (husband), don’t wonder who it is. In the Nepali language we have a problem. ‘Koen’ in Nepali language means ‘Which one?’. And by telling a Nepali person you have a boyfriend, you might as well tell them you are open for loads of new romantic contacts. In short: you are either a whore or married. There is nothing in between. And to tell people I have a ‘boyfriend’ named ‘Which one’ would definitely lead to some assumptions… So  Koen will use his second name (Alex) and will in Nepali eyes be my Shreeman.
In between the beer drinking and arranging my apartment I have of course also done some serious stuff. First of all continuing my language course. Actually I really like it and I notice I can now have small conversation in Nepali. Most Nepali people (at the fruit shop, in the taxi, or just while buying some water) are not shy to ask me if I am married, if I have children, where I come from and what my name is ( yes in that order!).  It is great to notice how fast you progress if you have three hours of language training every day for three weeks!
But this week we have no language training: we have the VSO Annual Volunteer Conference. All 50 volunteers from all over Nepal came together in Nagarkot. Nagarkot is a small place in the mountains on the edge of Kathmandu valley: quite high and with a great view on the Himalaya’s, as you see on the picture. We are following workshops, exchanging experiences and sit in the lobby chatting and drink beer till late at night (which is eleven o clock in the evening, as Nepali people go to bed at nine). VSO is in a transition stage where they had to fire 10 staff! Luckily this has no implications on us volunteers, but it does lead to discussions on where to go from here. Next week we will be heading to a place called Banepa where we will live the village life for one week, to enhance our language skills.
In the middle our conference location: the Paradise Inn Hotel in Nagarkot.