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The lovely family Pandey

Waking up reminds me of the mornings at the Mentawai tribe… The sun rises and the women start their day by cooking, cleaning and feeding the animals. I hear the noises but I’m still in my hard bed…Shall I go and help or stay a little longer? Even though my back hurts I decide to stay just for a few minutes longer to enjoy this moment for myself before being surrounded by the locals and kids playing around me all day.

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For about a week I’m staying with Hari, the man of the house, Gita, his wife, Arpita & Anabhuti, the two little girls (6 and 7 years old), Shraswati (granny) and 2 buffalo’s. It’s very normal to live with mum here, not like in Holland where we send granny to an elderly home and visit once a year. I’m the first tourist ever staying with them and the village never sees any tourists. There are about 500 people living in Dangmai, which is about 2 hours by bus from Kathmandu and an hour walk from the main road. I’m living in a house made of mud on top of a hill, overlooking the mountains. Back to bucket showers and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food Gita cooks is delicious and I get to taste all the local dishes they eat but as they don’t really have a big variety it’s the same almost every day…

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While I’m here I’m living life like they do which means milking the buffalo’s in the morning, cooking food with Gita, playing and doing homework with the two girls, teaching English in the local high school and sometimes I’m just reading my new book ‘Seven years in Tibet’. Reading a book is actually totally not “like local life” as the people, especially the woman, are really hard workers here. Reading books and relaxing does not really exist in their dictionary. Gita wakes up at 4 every day while Hari stays in bed till 7. She starts cooking, milks the buffalo, feeds them, does the dished, washes clothes, cleans the house, washes the kids and what so ever… All of this this happens before her ‘real work day’ starts at 10:00. She’s a teacher at high school. For me it feels like half a day is already gone when she leaves for work in the morning.

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I wish I could help her more but it just doesn’t make sense. The things she does in 10 minutes take me at least an hour. I feel such a helpless ‘westerner’ with our machines. I’m happy I can make her smile though, while she watches me struggling.

I went with Gita to her school and I got to teach some English. After the basics like naming animals, counting, the alphabet and scanning body parts, I’m out of teaching material. Teaching is hard! Luckily the kids ‘save’ me by singing songs, repeating my sentences and playing English games.

After class I go to the local tea shop with Hari. Or shall I say ‘Dutch coffee shop’? They don’t have coffee but I end up smoking a joint with the teachers of the school. Weird situation. Tea, biscuits and a joint during school break. Seems to be daily routine for the teachers… I start a conversation with Hari about the local culture, village life and about the ‘kasts’. Hari and Gita have an arranged marriage, just like almost all villagers. A love marriage is still not very common. The parents of the girls (sometimes even 15 years old) find a husband for her from the same ‘kast’ and pay in the form of mainly furniture. It’s possible to marry somebody from a different kast but it’s not very common and mostly not allowed by the parents. Hari is all ears when I tell him about our culture and I have to say that I can’t help feeling happy when I tell him about our ‘free system’.

A joint and 5 milktea’s with way too much sugar (they love their sweet tea) later we arrive back ‘home’ when Gita is already busy preparing diner. I even feel a little guilty I spend my time drinking tea and smoking a joint while she’s preparing our meals. But this is life here. The woman are very hard workers and the men have an easy life compared to them. Beside Gita’s work as a teacher she does all the work around the house. Only when the woman are on their period, do the man have to cook. During their period women are not allowed in the kitchen, can’t join festivals, sleep in a different room as their husband, etc, etc. Sounds like a little holiday to me?

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I love the fact that, again like the Mentawai, no food will be waisted here. Our leftovers mixed with water is the buffalo’s meal and the cat lick our plates until they’re almost clean again. The milk I milk in the morning we use for drinking, but also for curd (yoghurt), ricepudding and when there’s rice leftover on their plates they mix it with milk as a ‘dessert’. While I’m eating I can hear everbody slurping, burbing, ‘smakken’ and other strange noises they make while eating their food with their hands. They say it just tasted better this way but I can’t really taste a difference… My favorite meal is the ‘snack meal’ they have around 3 or 4 o’clock, beaten rice with chickpea’s. As they gave me a 2 kilo bag of beaten rice when I left I can now also make this at home… : )

This experience completed my trip. I loved my stay here and I got to know much more about the Nepali life. I can recommend everybody to do a real homestay during your travels… You experience the country and the people so much more and it deepens your trip.

They told me they would love to have more people visit them so if this story made you excited, please ask me and I’ll bring you in contact with the lovely family Pandey!

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LIS.



One Comment

  1. mam wrote:

    Zoooo trots op je .