This is probably the last article about the Nepali wonders and my big surprises in this country. Tomorrow I depart for Everest Base Camp trek so probably there will be no possibility to stay in touch with you guys. Just enjoy the text!
Slugs – in Nepali they are called „chiplokira”, which can be directly translated to English – “slippery bug” (I just love this language!). Slugs in Nepal are just gigantic! Usually they can be even 10-20 cm long. It is hard to find a positive sides of having so many of them around in the village, however the Nepalese managed to profit from their presence. Slugs, if you believe it or not, are deemed to be a perfect remedy for muscle and joint pains. Unfortunately, if you want to try this natural medicine you would need to eat them – eat in whole and without boiling! Only fresh and raw slug meat will make you feel better. Well… even while having problems with my knee I was not really keen to try this particular solution… Just disgusting!
Rainbow – some people in Europe believe that at the end of the rainbow you can find a bag full of golden coins. In Nepal when you see a rainbow on a horizon that means that the ghost is living in one of its ends.
Tuesday – finding snake’s skin on Tuesday brings you a good luck! Maybe that is why our host Raj had so much trouble negotiating the price of the King Cobra snake with local person who found it – he needed to pay a lot of money for such a treat.
Brothers and sisters – Nepali people call each other brothers or sisters. To be honest there are two words that you can address women with – “didi”, which mean “older sister” or “bahini” – “younger sister”. The same rule applies to men – we can say analogically “dai” or “bhai. It sounds really good and natural in Nepali but if you translate it to English can be a bit misleading: “How old is your Sister?” – I have no sister at all, so at the beginning it was really hard to figure out that the person asking me this question had my friend Phoebe’s age in mind…
Singing bowls – there are many methods of alternative medicine in Nepal. Apart from slugs consumption the singing bowls are also available! They are usually made from 7 different kind of metals and are used for healing different medical problems such as: headaches, joint pains or insomnia. The experts explain that the hit bowl generates vibrations, which have good influence on our body. Does it work? I am not sure, but of course I tried it! Yesterday we visited the place, where singing bowls therapy is applied. Firstly, they put one bowl on my head and stoke it with a wooden stick and… it was really pleasant! Secondly, they put it on my knee – so far I see no positive impact, it still hurts, but I let you know if something changes with this matter.
Jeep – jeeps are the main mean of transport when it comes to rural areas of the country, such as Ghandruk. No other mean of transport would be able to get so high and on such a bumpy tracks without losing all its wheels. Maybe apart from motorbikes! “In Nepal even jeeps dance!” – that is what Raj said to us our first day in Annapurna region. It was a perfect summary of our crazy, muddy trip! The funny thing is that using a jeep in Nepal is not that simple as you might think. First of all, you need to know where to go and with whom to speak to get to the one. Later, you need to present some good negotiation skills when it comes to discussion about the price. Once that is solved out there is also the last challenge – you need to fit in the jeep and that might be a problem, especially if you are not a Nepali person. One jeep is probably designed to take approximately 6 people without the driver – 1 in front, 3 in the back and 2 on extra seats in the trunk. In Nepal jeeps usually take up to 10 passengers. Do not ask me how, they just do! It might be particularly uncomfortable if you take into account the fact that the way from Pokhara to Ghandruk might even last for 3-4 hours…
Mandala – my favourite element in buddhists’’ art. The painting based on a circle that represents the cycle of human’s life. Mandala is known and a symbol of harmony and perfection. There are many types of mandala – some represents the humans way between hell and heaven, some serve as a type of buddhist calendars and are full with the symbols designed to remind us about the passing time. Finally, there is also mandala thought by the Buddha himself – it should remind us about the need to seek peace in the world and nirvana (the state of eternal and full happiness). One might not be a buddhist but everyone, I am sure, will admire the precise work and the beauty of mandalas. The most famous mandalas are actually not painted ones but the ones that are done with sand. During preparation of such a mandala buddhist priests meditate and then after it is done (which can them even months!), they just destroy it and put all the sand into the river. It should remind us that although our life is beautiful, it will surely end one day.
“Qe bajo?” – the majority of my stay in Nepal I was pretty sure that this phrase means just “What are you doing?”. Most of the time the Nepalese just answered “China” – “Nothing”. We were really surprised as usually that said so while cooking, walking, climbing stairs or going to the jungle. Nevertheless, the answer was always the same “China”. Finally, the last day, we realized that the meaning of “Qe bajo” is totally different – it means “What has happened?”. No wonder everyone answered “Nothing” – this was probably the most stupid question in the majority of situations we asked them. Nepali is one of the most difficult languages I have encountered. The best example: Nepali people have separate word for each number starting from 1 and ending on 100. It is just impossible to learn! What makes it even more complicated is that when you count you use a bit different forms that the ones when you use in other contexts. Even counting to 10 might be challenging in Nepal!
Casts – there is still the cast system in Nepal, however it differs a bit to the one we can find in India. In Nepal casts are just social groups that live either in the same village or the same district. For example – all villagers from Ghandruk are from gurung cast, apart from Nepali they speak gurung language, they have their own traditional clothes and holidays. According to the tradition gurung people often became soldiers – famous gorkha army! The other cast leaves in the highest parts of the mountains in Everest region – well known Sherpas. They usually work on high altitudes as porters and guides. Also they conserve trekking routes for climbers. In Kathmandu valley we have also others – each one specializes in different kind of work. As such we have Swarnakars – the goldsmiths, Tamrakar, who specializes in metal works and famous sculptures – Shakya people. One must learn the cast’s profession before he or she can choose her own career path. As such when you are born as Tamrakar you need to first learn how to make sculptures. Only after that you might go to university and become for example a doctor or a lawyer. The interesting aspect of having cast system in the society is that the cast name works also as a surname in Nepal. As such if your name is really common, as for example Raj, you might find ten or even more people carrying the same name and surname in the village. Also sometimes female names does not differ from the male ones. As such it is possible that in one town we will find two persons with the same name and cast name but they will not be of the same sex!
Well, that is all for now. Tomorrow I am departing to Lukla and then to Everest, so please keep your fingers crossed for me! We are in touch!
Author: Joanna Zubkow