tea party

No, I’m not talking about the political movement going on in the US.  I’m talking about the way of life here in Nepal.

Anytime you visit someone in their home, have a meeting, or sit in a shop for more than a few minutes tea is offered (even if the person just met you that two minutes before).  Most of the time it is chiya (spiced milk tea) that is brought to you.  If you want something else, such as black tea, you have to make sure to request it (but if you wanted something without a lot of sugar, most likely you are out of luck).

a woman enjoying tea at a bead market stall while waiting for her jewelry to be made

Offering chiya is a common courtesy and it gives time to sit and chat (which is always imperative before getting down to business).  The general rule is that you accept it, though if you say no, more than likely they will be quick to offer you something else—maybe you will even be lucky enough to be offered a coke.

This is definitely different than the way business or shopping is conducted in the US and I quite like it—definitely going to miss it once I leave.  If I ever open up a shop, I will definitely bring this tradition along with me!

for my dad

This past Saturday I spent the afternoon at the only 18 hole golf resort in Nepal.  Who would have thought that up?  I had a lunch meeting with a friend regarding a possible future project and met some pretty awesome other people as well.  I also got to eat some really excellent thai food (best I’ve had since I got here—and I even tried some fish–and i’m still alive to tell the tale!)

My father loves golf and with this being the case, I’m working on it so that I can get him to the golf resort to play a game while my parents are visiting in November:)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

photos (c) Bethany Meuleners

khir? khir. khir?

While a lot of people here in Nepal speak English, there is definitely a need for me to be learning Nepali.  This is why I’ve been going to a language class almost everyday for the last few weeks.

I’m finding that the biggest language barriers exist with pronunciation.  There are many words here that sound and are spelled almost exactly the same but mean very different things.  To an untrained ear (mine) it is hard to tell the difference.  Then there are just the words that I think I’m pronouncing correctly and with the way I say them are completely incomprehensible to most Nepalis.

Last week was a classic example with my DiDi (means older sister but is also used to refer to women that help around the house).  She is wonderful, but speaks no English and my Nepali is only (very slowly) coming along.  Luckily, the teenage children who live downstairs do speak some English, so most of the time they translate for us.

I tried to ask her to cook rice pudding for us (khir).  She had no idea what I was talking about.

The son from downstairs came up to try to translate.  I told him that we were really hoping to have her make us khir.  He stared at me.

I explained that we wanted rice pudding.  He stared again.

So I continue, ” you know, it is a dessert that is sweet, that you eat after dinner.”

His response: “We don’t eat anything after dinner.”

Finally, after quite a bit of time he got his sister and after a little more explaining, she finally understood what I was asking for and said, “Ohhhhhhh, khir!”

I’m hoping that at some point in my speaking I will start to get the pronunciations right, otherwise I feel that there will be a lot more stories like this.

dinner by headlamp

We totally take our enormous grocery stores for granted in the US. Mostly what I’ve found here are small stores or stalls that have a few set related items. This is great for tea ( we’ve found a wonderful tea house down the street and are befriending the owner), local produce, curd and other such items. However, when you need multiple items and a more comprehensive variety of things, there aren’t too many places to go.

So, with all of this in mind, I’ve realized that heaven in Nepal is a place called Bhat Bhateni Supermarket. It is a wonderful 6 floor store in the Bhat Bhateni neighborhood. I’ve only checked out the first floor and I still think it’s amazing. The first floor is like walking into what would be a Nepali Safeway. Whole aisles of cereal, rice, coffee, etc. It’s a little bit of a trek from my neighborhood, but well worth it when I’m looking for something specific. I’ll have to venture to the other floors that are filled with housewares and the like next time. There are also AMAZING looking street food stalls right outside.

I was shopping with Hannah and Ben and we decided to get food so we could cook our very first meal here in Nepal. We of course decided to do dal bhat, which is the local fare of lentils and rice. None of us ACTUALLY know how to make dal, so we got the boil the bag kind (yeah, yeah I know…it IS my intention to learn how to actually make it). We also got some frozen momos for good measure.

We walk to Ben’s apartment which is a few blocks away and realize that it is completely dark. Up until this point, Hannah and I have been oblivious to load shedding as we have an inverter in our apartment. So this is our first time experiencing the phenomena of no lights. We’re actually pretty excited about it. Ben thought we were a little odd.

So our first Nepali cooking experiencing became Nepali cooking in the dark. Which in some ways, really makes it more authentic. It all turned out pretty well considering…nothing burned, only some of the momos fell apart, and the rice was cooked for exactly the right amount of time. Ben does have enough rice left over to feed a small army. Apparently, 3 to 4 servings of rice in Nepal means 10 servings. We lit some candles and then proceeded to have a great little meal.

The lights came on just in time for us to do the dishes.