We wake up around 6:00 AM, and may see or hear the family’s morning worship ceremony, or puja. Their primary deity is Ganesh, his golden figures kept in a small room off the landing at the top of the stairs, outside the kitchen where we eat our breakfast of toast and milk tea.
Our host family has a 5 year old boy, who leaves for school a little before we do, dressed smartly in his uniform with tie. We walk along a dirt road with puddles already a couple months old which will not dry up until September sometime unless there is a break in the monsoons. The soil is clay, the puddles silver and splashed by the continuous passage of motorcycle, taxi, and mini-bus tires.
The stret is lined with cement buildings, small shop fronts offering basic groceries, laundry, mechanics, miscellaneous kitchen goods, or small bar/restaurants to drink a soda or cup of tea in. The people are beginning to stare at us less, a little less each day? They were initially suprised to see us and more suprised when we greeted them with a correct “namaste!” but by now I guess the word has gone out.
We turn off the road just before the muddy pit enclosed by a stick fence where a group of young men appear to live with the chickens they are raising. Up the hill and around and then through the swampy rice paddies. We walk the last stretch along the foot-high berm of soil separating two long ovals. When we arrived the women were still planting them, colorful skirts hiked up just a bit as the feet sank into the mud, bent over with arms sweeping in a familiar motion as they planted the small green stalks.
We have Nepali language class first thing, where we introduce ourselves and discuss who owns the pen. Mero naam Tim ho. Tyo wahaako kalam ho. Tapaailaai hariyo rang manparccha?
In the afternoon we may learn about the Nepali education system, political system, or history, or take a trip to somewhere in the valley. K and I had already visited the palace square of monuments and temples, Durbar Square (UNESCO World Heritage site) but this time we volunteered to serve as guides, so I learned much more about the history of an amazing place, while K can tell you about the rituals and life of the Living Goddess, Kumari. But those are enough for another post, and this sticky keyboard with uncertain connection in a humid room encourages relative brevity.
This moring we had a yoga and meditation session with a guru from Rajistaan which was unlike any yoga experience I have had before, including the “Lion Salute” when he abruptly roared while sticking his tongue all the way out and down across his chin and rolling his eyes up in his head. The first try felt ridiculous, but the second was already a release.
The last two nights we have walked home after dark. There are rare streetlights, and the power was completely out last night. Fireflies blink on and off beside the road. People living in rough huts or concrete Nepali McMansions go about their lives, the curry and rice smells of their dinners are minor variations of a common theme, as nearly all Nepalis eat the same meal, dal bhat, twice a day. Beginning next week this will be our diet as well.
Approaching motorbikes show striking silhouettes of walking figures, the women hazed with color from the sweeping folds of their shawls, saris, and kurthas.
The kurtha is the traditional Nepali outfit, versions worn by both men and women, and we are encouraged to wear them in our schools in order to better fit in. We were measured yesterday for our custom made outfits, the material and tailoring coming to about ten dollars.
We have heard a little info on our schools. K and I are lucky, and were given the tall challenge. We will be teaching in the government (public) schools which have larger class sizes. K and I will be teaching around 5-8 classes, alone, to around 60 students. We will have one day to observe the classes.
Discipline here is done by beating the students, and raising hands in not a known concept. In a few days we will find out how conversation classes of 60 children go.