In between funerals and power cuts – Every day life in Kathmandu
Is it really only three weeks ago that I did arrived here in Nepal? Europe seams like a long time ago. I’m walking through the streets and the sights, the sounds and the scents feel already so familiar. Almost as I always had been here. But I have to admit that it wasn’t an easy start here for me. Even I have travelled a fair bit and I think of myself as a quite flexible person in terms of getting adapted to a new place or situation, it is a big difference to see some poor living conditions on TV or actually live them yourself. The first few days I had moments when I thought that some of the camping holidays I did felt like a five star luxury retreat compared to the conditions here in the orphanage. Anyway little by little I found my place here. And there is something else I do find here. I do start to appreciate again those little pleasures in life. At the beginning I was amazed of how exited the children got when the food was ready. Today I feel almost euphoric too when eating time is getting closer. And it doesn’t matter that it’s “only” rice again what will be on my plate. The two cups of tea I have, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, you won’t believe how great they taste. I even do like the hot water I drink during the day and think of it as something special. Not all of the people living here do get something warm every day in their stomachs. Gas is expensive and not always available. Nepal’s import is controlled mostly by India and they keep Nepal on a short leash. So many times there is a shortage of almost everything essential. Specially petrol, oil and gas. At the moment we are cooking on our last bottle of gas and it’s still not sure when and where we can get a new one. The other day I saw a line of cars and motorbikes of maybe 400 to 500 meters long. They all cued for petrol and a friend told me that only a few days ago himself he did cue for about six hours to get petrol for his motorbike. Despite all those problems the people here talk about them with a smile. “What else can we do” they say. Kathmandu is an incredible mix of people, religions and cultures. Walking through the streets it is almost impossible to get bored with all the different buildings, Hobbit sized shops, houses, temples and ritual sites. The traffic at times is insane, so is the pollution. A few days ago I saw more dead people than I ever did in my life. They where getting burned in Pasuhpantinath. This is the most holy Hindu cremation site in Nepal. Unthinkable in Europe but a most impressive experience for the observer. Only a few hours before I witnessed a Christian funeral of a young girl which died in a motorbike accident. There are little more than 3% of Christians living in Nepal and they are not allowed to have cemeteries so she got buried somewhere in the woods. A strange procedure with her own family covering the grave they dug. Some of the visitors only looking others quite happy, making fun while a priest was saying prayers.
Most of my days are very similar one to the other. We get up at 6 o’clock and pray for one hour. After I get a cup of tea and the children start to clean their rooms and the rest of the house while Mariya and Pathali, the housewife, start to prepare rice for the breakfast. When the children are finished with cleaning they do what’s left of their homework and I help them with it as good as I can. At 8.30 they do have their breakfast and after that they get ready and dress up for school where I take them to at 9.30. After I go back home and have my breakfast. Yes, rice with some vegetables and hot water. During the day I stay with the three babies and Rohit who does not go to school yet as he only arrived two month ago in the orphanage. The babies get looked after most of the time by Mariya and Pathali and I play and read with Rohit. Round 3 o’clock I go to see a friend I made which has a shop not far from where the children go to school. We sit outside on the street watching the people walk pass while he tells me about Nepal. At 4 o’clock I go and get the children from school. As soon as we arrive at home they get changed and start to do their homework and play. Thanks to the donations I got for this project we bought last week a electricity backup system and so the children can do all this with the lights turned on. A real improvement as the power cuts the city suffers does not affect us so much anymore. Please have a look at my first post from Nepal to know more about this dilemma. At 6 o’clock it’s prayer time again for one hour. After the evening devotional the kids have dinner. When they are finished they clean up their dishes and the kitchen and get ready for bed. This is the time when we, the adults, have our dinner. Later we sit around the fire we make in the kitchen and tell stories and news from the day or we discuss plans of what there is to do tomorrow. Usually by 9.30 everybody is in bed to get some rest for the coming “exhausting” day. So happens every day apart from Saturday. This day is Nepal’s Sunday thus the children don’t have to go to school and can stay at home.
A few days ago I was cheating a bit. I took a bus into Thamel which is the touristy centre of Kathmandu and there I had a pot of real milk coffee, a cheese sandwich with fresh cucumber, tomato and salad. I topped this feast with a delicious piece of chocolate cake. My god what a treat!
Stay tuned for some more stories of my adventure here in Nepal next week. Have a great day and Namaste