My days in the city: At night my body collapses into a stone-hard sleep while my mind is thinking that it can never rest again. There are so many impressions that I feel like an infant, watching at the world with big eyes and no understanding. The mornings come always sudden. Someone knocks and enters my room to wake me up to the sounds of Asia. People here are used to clear their throats very thoroughly…meaning: noisily and spit their night-remains on the streets. Some shout in a strange kind of sing-sang. The simple-Nepali explanation to whether they are praying, or singing or what the heck they’re doing…”well, they are calling to the people”. Ah!
The days start early (the sun rises as 6:30 and so do the people…well, I’m not ) and with tea and sweet biscuits. The Nepali looove sweet things and tons of sugar in tea, bread (at least what they call bread) and everywhere possible. When I say ‘chini chaina’ (without sugar) they look at me happily because I spoke two Nepali words and then I get sugar anyway, probably thinking that the ‘white face’ doesn’t know what she was saying. Then the people do…nothing. Everything that has to be done should wait until after lunch. So I sit on the roof terrace with the other girls that live here and read ‘The Himalayan Times’ in the sun until it gets too hot. And sometimes we speak a few English words.
Around 9:30 the first Daal Bhaat is served. It is a mountain of rice, a bowl of linze-soup, some pickled pickles and curry vegetables. It´s spicy and plentiful and is eaten by hands, but most importantly by mixing it into a food-mud before eating. I am still allowed to eat with a spoon..but I have to mix it carefully! This strange dish is served two to five times a day…it´s pretty much all I eat here. Spicy rice in the morning and no coffee…why did I came to Asia again?! Oh, ja…the nature…the adventure!!
Speaking of coffee… I came here in the burden of the believe that they don´t drink coffee in Nepal. And then the relieve: I asked Rakesh about coffee…and he said:” well of course I drink coffee…every morning!” My heart jumped and I immediately ordered a coffee with milk…chini chaina. And then my heart went back to its place veery quickly. The stuff they drink that they call ‘coffee’ is a powdered mix of caffeine and sugar boiled with water. Mmhpf! Well at least it has caffeine.
Sometimes we visit the city or in my case try to organize money, visas, post and stuff. I am soo glad that I always have someone with me…how people find their way in this mess of a city and don´t kill themselves every time they enter the traffic, is again a mystery to me.
Another mystery is the completely confusing feeling of time the Nepalis follow. It´s started with the time difference to Central Europe. Its not four hours..no it´s four and a half. Or at least that´s what my calender says. The pilot of the airplane entering Kathmandu gave us a different time. And finally arriving in the hostel the people follow a different again (of course, all the clocks are broken and run at heir own speed). So now it´s time 07:42 in Central Europe and 12:22 in Kathmandu. What do I care anyway… I find the same difference in the timing of appointments. Not only that the people (and me) get confused sometimes by which month it is (one Nepali months are two European month and here we have the year 2046), half an hour can mean ‘later today’ or ‘in ten minutes’. You simply have to prepared for the next “let´s go” at all times. I wonder, if there´s a better word for ‘spontaneous’…?
The Smarika Hostel where I stay when I´m in the city, belongs to the brother of Achyut (my contact and project-leader) and his wife. They live here together with their three year old son and the 6-12 girls that go to different schools in the area. We all share one TV-room, two bathrooms, the kitchen and the terraces. One girl works here as a cook and prepares the millions of Daal-Bhaats and cleans. One boy, Kishour, helps her. He comes from a very poor family and had some problems there…so now he works and goes to school here.
The Nepalis are friendly, laugh a lot (especially the girls giggle constantly about me…which sometimes gets seriously on my nerves…I know they are just shy and curious…but it makes me feel stupid anyway) and like to be together. I can´t really make clear to them that I am perfectly fine when I am alone my room…that I need some space for myself sometimes…they nod…and then drag me into the TV-room anyway, “let´s go”. (In that respect they kind of remind me of some lovely characters from the Erasmus-family). But seriously…sometimes I just want someone I can talk to…someone who understands my language and my feelings…pff…some ‘wildlife legends’ interested in working in Nepal?! Come here quickly!