Patan, KATHMANDU, NEPAL
I am looking out our bedroom window and there is much to see. To one side, there is a big open space at the bottom of the hill that many people use to walk around, play soccer or ride their bikes. On the other side there are many houses that tower behind us. Most of the houses are at least three to four stories high and are painted in bright colours. They all have rooftop balconies. Behind that we can see the tips of the Himalayas (wow!). And immediately around us there is a mix of large houses, small shacks, open spaces and crowded streets.
We have spent the first two days at the café we are working alongside, meeting the staff and apprentices. We are mainly working with the business manager with website and marketing design. This project is focusing on training women who are vulnerable to trafficking to give them skills making them eligible for work. Much of our communication with the apprentices is in nods and smiles, but they have been practicing their English sentences to serve customers and we have had a few laughs – ‘Hello sir/ma’am, who would you like to eat today?’ Rob and I are equally slow in picking up Nepalese but we are attempting some basic phrases. One girl that we live with especially enjoys correcting our pronunciation and making us repeat phrases very slowly!
Each evening Rob and I have gone for a walk to explore the area and challenge ourselves with making sense of the maze-like streets. Yesterday we walked home from the café and crossed a busy street, thus feeling a sense of accomplishment! Apparently in Nepal, if a pedestrian is hit, the driver is more likely to try and hit a pedestrian again otherwise they incur severe penalties if the pedestrian lives – who needs theme parks when you can encounter the risk of crossing roads in Kathmandu.
- Roasted and salted cashews that are lightly coated in coconut cream – yum!
Books on the go (related or not related to Nepal!):
- Snake Lake by Jeff Greenwald – memoirs of a journalist in Nepal during the 1990s.
As this is not our first time visiting the developing world, I notice different personal challenges and questions. The poverty that individuals face around Kathmandu is obvious, but we are also seeing the effect that many years of corrupt and unstable government (only recently were the people in parliament throwing shoes at each other in an attempt to write a constitution: click here) and damaging religious beliefs (such as the Hindu caste system: click here) have on people that keeps them in poverty.
Highlights so far:
- Walking outside to feel the sunshine on your body after surviving a cold exit from the bed.
- Cooking delicious food in the kitchen with the two daughters Amelia and Rebecca.
- ‘Organic produce’ signs in trendy cafés when all produce is by necessity organic – local farmers can’t afford pesticides.
- The random signage around Kathmandu modelled off English words/statements e.g. Swastika Interiors, In Trust We God, Green & Peace Childcare.