Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ukus mukus

Today is day 2.5 in Nepal. I'm staying with Kanchan (sister #4) and her husband. Prem (buwa) is here, along with Sommaya (sister #2) and her new baby. The baby is about a month and a half old.

Load-shedding is still happening. I thought it wouldn't be too bad because it's monsoon season, but the lights still go out every night and morning.

Yesterday, I went with Prem to a couple hospitals, an Aunt's house and Janaki's house.

We went to a couple hospitals to find Smita (sister #3). Smita works at two different hospitals as a nurse. Prem wanted to find her because his stomach and eye hurt. The first hospital we went to, we walked up to the receptionist and he said "Smita please." That's it. He didn't even have an appointment, He just expected people to know who Smita was and that she wouldn't be busy. "Where is Smita? My stomach hurts." Anyways, through many phone calls, we discovered she was at the other hospital. Locating Smita took a couple hours, walking in the sun (it's really hot and humid), and crowded bus rides.

Our bus was stopped in a traffic jam and I saw this guy punch another guy. And then a third guy came in and started punching until someone broke them up. I'm not really sure what happened, but I think the guy who got punched got off the bus without paying. All the other Nepalis were staring, must not be a daily occurrence.
Next we went to Prem's youngest sister's house. They fed me a ton of food. I felt really bad, but I had trouble eating all of it. It was nice to see her and her family. Then we went to Janaki's house. This was the first time being there.  They also tried feeding me. I told them, "ukus mukus" which literally means, "tight," but actually means "really full." They told me to just eat slowly and I could fit all the food in. Nope. The best part of all this food was the mangoes. It's mango season! Fresh mangoes are everywhere and really cheap. Too bad mangoes weren't in season while I was here last fall, I would've bought some every day and eaten them after school.

I met Janaki's husband for the first time. The rest of my family does not seem to like him. They say he just eats and rests at home. Prem said when he was young, he had a brain injury or mental problem (not sure how it translates), so he couldn't go to school. Now, he doesn't work and his younger brother in America sends money. He seemed nice though. I met his sister and her family who live in the same house. There were 3 kids my age. 2 of them are trying to go to the US.

Kanchan and Kemy are also trying to go to the US. They will try to get a visa in about 6 months. Smita is trying to get a visa to the Netherlands. She'll go for about a year, then her husband will join her. She will go 4 more years of schooling as a nurse so she can work there.

Last night, I met another girl who was adopted. Her sister lived in the same Christian home as Kemy (Kanchan's husband). She's been back to Nepal 4 times but can't speak Nepali. She grew up in Kentucky.

My knee is still healing, so not it's very flexible at the moment. Squatting is really hard, which is a bit of a bummer because ya gotta squat to eat, use the bathroom, wash clothes, play with the baby, and sometimes when showering. Everyone here, including the older folks, are super flexible.

It's good to be back! I missed the daal bhaat, momos, and eating with my hands. I'm tired a lot. Not sure if it's because it's so hot, still jet lagged or out of shape. Probably all 3.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Abu Dhabi

Minneapolis to Chicago

Chicago to Abu Dhabi.  In Chicago, I met one of my friends from school. He's going to Nepal for the summer as well and we're both on the same flights! Nice to have a travel buddy.

Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu!

At the moment, I'm in Abu Dhabi after a 13 hr plane ride and sitting through a 12 hour layover. I was asking around to see if someone could tell me where the gate was for the next flight. One person didn't answer the question and informed me that I qualified for a free hotel room. I got lucky and was able to get a room! Comes with a shower and 2 meals. I thought I was going to be sleeping on a couch tonight.

The flights from Chicago to Katmandu are on Etihad air. I'd never heard of them before, but they were the cheapest. They are a super nice airline though. Similar to Korean Air and Singapore Air. I even got mango juice on the plane. score.

I was able to step outside the airport briefly and it was so HOT. and humid. Felt like Singapore, but hotter, and it's the middle of the night.


That's it for now. Hopefully I can update this while in Nepal but I''m still not sure what the internet situation is yet.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Returning!

What I'm up to this summer:

It has been 2 busy school terms since I was last in Nepal. I've missed it so much that I'm returning this summer. I will be there for about 2 months working for an NGO called CDRA Nepal. Here is their website:  http://cdranepal.org/

Their website is a bit lacking, but it has their mission statement and some projects they're working on.

How'd I find out about this organization? Well, my Uncle Will has a friend who was was doing research there. I contacted this friend and he gave me the email of one of the advisors. This advisor told me they'd love to have a volunteer and geve me the following list of projects they need help with:

  • Micro credit and women empowerment project in different villages - includes meeting with groups of women and making business plans for them, collecting information and writing stories.
  • Volunteer in disability school for early child development program.
  • Eye hospital projects - includes running eye camp.
  • Water and sanitation project in Baluwa and Naya gaun village including coffee plantation project.
  • Agriculture project in Nala village
  • Getting involved in various training events

Pretty cool right? I'm really excited. Most of the projects are in Banepa, which is just east of Kathmandu and on the way to my village.

I plan on getting to Nepal a few days early so I can hang out with family before I start working for the NGO. Last time I was in Nepal, Sommaya (2nd oldest sister) was pregnant. She had a baby boy a few weeks ago. I'm excited to meet him!

My Nepali has gotten pretty rusty, but hopefully it'll come back. At school, my Nepali friend was graduating. I visited his parents while I was in Nepal, and they came to Carleton for his graduation. It was fun to see them but I forgot how quickly people speak and I realized I had lost much of the language. Yikes!

In other related news...
Remember that photo of the lady at the loom earlier? Here it is so you don't have to weed through old posts: