15 July 2013

Nepal But Not Forgotten

I sit here in Varanasi, India writing this post about Nepal. Thinking back on the experience there, I want to share some little tidbits of daily life and information that didnt fit into any other posts.

School is a big deal in Nepal. Education is very important and is valued. The students wear uniforms to school. The uniforms we saw were usually (both for boys and girls) a pair of pants, a belt, a button down shirt and a tie. Sometimes one saw a girl in a skirt instead of pants. Occasionally one saw polo shirts or track suits as parts of uniform. But what struck me as quite unique was the hair. Now on the boys it was short, but the girls was what really fascinated me. First off I NEVER saw a girl over the age of say 5 with hair that wasn't long enough to be in pigtails or braids. For that matter I never saw a short-haired woman either. Almost all of the girls had their hair in 'Pochahonta's style' braids. I asked our homestay about this and he told us that it was part of the dress code! Imagine a school dress code that tells the girls HOW to do their hair!

In addition to noting uniforms, I also saw many billboards for schools around town. These would advertise the success of the school on the national exams. Many schools were proud to boast 100% passing rates. They also showed the pictures of the students who took the exam AND the score they earned!

Water is scarce in Nepal. There are shortages and thus it is conserved. Everywhere we went, we saw large buckets for gathering and storing rainwater. Most buildings (all houses for sure) had one on top of the roof - it looked like a 55gallon tub of water. This water would be used for everything I imagine.

Speaking of using water, it was very common that washing up (dishes, showering, laundry) took place outdoors. The women would take everything outside and take care of it. Once in town we saw a woman finishing her laundry, when she finished it, she plopped her kid into the wash water to give the child a bath.

Nepal was a real cultural mix - a true east meets west. Some Nepalese look like Indians and others look Chinese. The traditions were also a blend. In Nepal, Buddhism and Hinduism were often intertwined. The foods and flavors were a true mix. The buildings I saw in Nepal sometimes resembled the buildings I've seen in Japan. It was a perfect blend and really made Nepal one of my new favorite places!

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