Sunday, October 26, 2014

This Post is a Birthday Gift for my Mother

          Many of you have been wondering what happened to my blog posts. Some of you also might be wondering what has happened to me.  For ten days, I was in Gorkha district visiting Ellen, Emily, and Lisa—and the internet there stinks. As in it took 30 minutes to load the Facebook toolbar. Brutal.
          Anyway, since I was away for so long, I will have to split the Gorkha story into three parts, because each day was filled with so much…life. Going in chronological order, I will start with my stay at Ellen’s house.

Day 1 – Kathmandu to Gorkha
            I got on a bus at 8:30, and three buses and nine and a half hours later, I arrived in Gorkha Bazaar with a very sore bottom. Since I was sick for my last visit to Gorkha, I had no idea where to meet Ellen, but thank goodness that she is infinitely patient. An hour’s walk separated us from her village, and as dusk fell, some local drunkards began to follow us. I was very grateful my mother gave me a pocketknife for my birthday—not that I would ever hope to use it, but it does provide a sense of security. Ellen’s bahini (little sister) and friend found us though, and we made the rest of the trip unmolested.
            Ellen’s home is a lovely three-story affair with a store on the top floor (at street level), and a goat pen on the ground floor. Unfortunately, the staircase has no railings, and her host mom laughed as I scootched down the dusty steps on my bottom. No shame.
            We had a delicious dinner with the best fried egg I have ever tasted and the second-worst cup of milk I have ever choked down (it was buffalo milk, by the way), and I ate with my hand. I say “hand” because my left hand was firmly planted beneath my posterior so as to not offend Ellen’s host mother. After cooing at a pair of half-day-old baby goats, we went to bed.
Day 2 – Ellen’s House
            Breakfast was just as tasty as dinner, with the addition of a second friend egg and a spoon (or chumcha). To reach Ellen’s school, you have to cross the street and…that’s it. She lives so close to her school that she eats tiffin (lunch) there every day.
            Her school is a lower secondary school, I believe, which means it goes up to eighth grade. Some of her classes are extremely small: one had only 6 students! The discipline seemed to be very good, though, and Ellen is obviously very beloved by her students. She does an attendance chart where for every day a child attends school, they get a star. After ten stars, they get to choose a prize: a pencil, an eraser, or a sweet. I will be stealing that idea. She let me teach her classes “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” which they seemed to enjoy. Some of her older students made us flower garlands to wear. For tiffin we ate bananas from her family’s trees, and contemplated life, the Himalayan vista, and a hella big spider.
            After school, Ellen took me on a walk to see the temple where she danced on Teej. Along the way, some local school girls joined us. They bought us gum, and afterwards we all played on a ping (a swing), before walking home to the sight of the setting sun reflecting off the mountains. Her sisters showed me the tap where they collect water. While we were there, we were mobbed by a group of Ellen’s students, and they did the Hokey-Pokey until the sun  set.
            After dinner, Ellen and I hurt our necks by staring at the Milky Way too long, and failing to find the darn Big Dipper. We sat outside the shop with her aamaa and talked for two hours. In Nepali. At the beginning of the conversation, I spoke no Nepali. At the end, well, at least I could do more than tell someone my name.
Day 3 – Ellen’s to Emily’s
            I actually don’t remember too much of this day. You see, I got clocked in the back of the head with a rocket-shot football (soccer ball) right as I stepped into a classroom. My timing was impeccable. A good part of the rest of the day was spent worrying about having a concussion, but looking back, I was fine, just a bit whiplashed. However, I was still completely clueless that Ellen took my water bottle from my backpack halfway through our walk to the Bazaar because she was concerned my bag was too heavy. I started panicking when I realized it was gone, and she looked at me, rather confused, and said: “Don’t you remember me taking it from you?” Nope.
            But I do remember we got to play with baby goats before we left her house.
Anyway, the story will continue in my next post, which will detail my time at Emily’s home, where we all convened to celebrate her 23rd birthday.
I have many more pictures, but they will have to wait until I get to KTM. For now, this is the best one I can give you. It captures a good deal of Nepali life. Yes, those are the mountains in the background. 

And speaking of birthdays, you might have guessed from the title of this post that today, October 26th, is my mother’s birthday. The internet cooperated just enough to let me Skype her for a few minutes, and to introduce her to my aamaa and bai. I missed her big birthday bash last year, so I’m doing pretty poorly when it comes to her birthday. I know a blog post is a poor excuse for a gift, but it’s a great way to get you all to think about my mom for a few minutes, and to hopefully send her prayers and/or good wishes. She’s an amazing woman, and an even better mom, and I can only hope that I have inherited her joy, compassion, and adventurous spirit. It takes a special kind of mother to encourage her daughter to follow her dreams and travel to the other side of the planet. Happy birthday, Mamacita! I know you’ll read this. I love you bunches.

PS: All of you who aren’t my mother should totally peer pressure her into visiting me in Nepal. Just saying.

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