In honor of having lived in Nepal for a year as of August 25, here is a series of pictures I took several months ago. They chronicle my life as it was when I lived with a Nepali family and was in full time language study. So many of these things feel normal to me now – things I never imagined before, and maybe things you’ve never imagined either…
Please allow me to present
A Day in the Life: A Picture Diary
Each morning, I would wake up to my sunny (and therefore warm) room. It was almost never this clean though…
After 20 minutes on my bike, surviving the giant hill and crazy traffic, I would arrive at language class! My coworker was kind enough to allow me to meet our teacher at her house. Most houses in Kathmandu look like this; several stories with each being its own apartment, and surrounded by a wall and a gate.
Most houses also have small shrines like this one, where the woman of the family worships daily, often very early in the morning.
Take off your shoes!
One always removes one’s shoes when entering a house in Nepal. It’s both practical and cultural: feet are seen as unclean, and there are many rules surrounding them. Also, the roads are disgusting, and no one wants that dirt in their home.
My language teacher. Srijana is an amazing woman, and I am so grateful to have spent several months seeing her every day. She has seen me laughing, crying, and everywhere in between. We are now fast friends.
After two hours of language class, it was time to study. I would usually head to a cafe or to the office, and then spend several hours trying to remember everything Srijana had taught me, listening to recording we had made, as well as planning for future lessons.
Each day was a little different, sometimes including exciting outings with our Backpack orientation group. A large group of people joined our organization within a few months of each other, so we were all able to “get oriented” together. We met every week to talk about language learning, Nepali culture, and other exciting aspects of our new lives.
Kathmandu has an excellent expat community, so I was also able to make new friends from many different walks of life. Although many are here with the same motivations, our desire to love Nepal is manifested in a myriad of interesting ways. I have met some really amazing people!
Each Tuesday night I attend a Bible study, and while I lived with my host family, this was a routine night that I spent away from them. It took us a while to figure out how to make sure I didn’t get locked out… coming home past 8:30pm is a foreign concept here!
After all this studying, meeting people, and always managing to fill up my day, I would head home. While I had to cross Ring Road again, the downhill ride was worth every painful minute of uphill earlier in the day! And if I came home at just the right time, I would get to see the orange sky behind the hills outside of central Kathmandu.
Our very pink house!
After arriving home I would sometimes study more Nepali, or amuse myself with other activities.
Happily enough, my room got lots of sunshine, so it was nice and warm. However, due to the usual building construction methods, it’s more commonly colder inside the house than outside! I often wished I could spend my life like this:
I also had to be sure to charge any electronics that I wanted to use. Kathmandu has blackouts, but they are scheduled, so we are able to try to make use of electricity when it is available. Knowing when blackouts are coming: such luxury!
Another type of scheduling that I had to get used to was time zones! All told, the time difference between Nepal and the West coast of the US is pretty convenient: just 12 hours and 45 minutes. Until daylight savings time ends, that is.
After my afternoon activities, as dinnertime approached, I would often sit in the kitchen and watch Rupmati (my host mom) cook. I only once offered to help, and after she saw how slow I was at chopping garlic, my role was merely to keep her company. She’s a wiz in the kitchen! We sometimes ate the traditional dal bhat (rice with lentil soup & side dishes), but she loves to experiment, so we had lots more variety that most Nepali families. We even sometimes had burritos!
After eating dinner with anywhere from 4 to 10 people, we would all sit around the living room, playing games (uno was a favourite) and drinking tea or hot Tang. Yes, hot Tang. It’s surprisingly good.
The TV was often on, and I got to experience lots of interesting Hindi films and television! However, as winter drew on, it was less and less common for us to have electricity in the evenings. This meant either candlelit art projects,