Journey to Nepal and Back
Of the many highlights along this journey from the South East to the Middle East of Nepal is definitely the visit of the local village of Ramnagar in the Mahottari District. After a breathtaking ride through many pristine valleys from Kathmandu to the town of Bardibas where there are local teashops to be found and one can take a short break and enjoy the splendid, scenic vistas. After all, what would Nepal be like without all the many tea shops and Nepali food?
With so many things to explore, even just travelling down the road was an experience to remember. Coming from the warm highlands, the landscape and terrain slowly transcends into a cool area where one can see different a multitude of fascinating plants growing in these particularly sensitive, exotic ecological areas. It was then winter and the dry season is the best time to travel without being worried about having to carry any raincoats; especially while travelling down such roads by motorbike.
Arriving in the Mahottari District, Nishchal and I chose to stay at the lovely Hotel Makalu. The name of this hotel makes the Nepali laugh from time to time and that is where I experienced the humorous nature of the people. It seems that in Nepali the name “Makalu” means, “My Darling.” Behind the hotel kitchen was a large advertisement containing a beautiful woman posing with two bottle of Russian Vodka. Printed at the bottom of the ad was the name of the hotel. The owner had never realised it until I began start laughing about it. Nishchal and I were always able to enjoy a good chuckle from then on while drinking Nepali Tea on this; as well as, on several other occasions.
The Nepalese; in my experience, are not only very warm and friendly but in addition are helpful and curious about other peoples lives. Having an open heart can get one very far, as can easily be experienced in the beginnings of what could possibly become life-long friendships.
Turning off the main road from visiting the town of Janakpur; with it’s large beautifully coloured temple, to the town of Bardibas, we turned onto a dusty, bumpy gravel road past the flat farm field into the village of Ramnagar. Having pale skin; I quickly became the village attraction. Children were waving at me and my first impression was that not many tourists visit this village. Soon we arrived at family home of Nishchal’s wife. Nearby were her three brothers living side-by-side along with their families and mother. As in many other traditional cultures, sons tend to stay in the same village while their daughters; interestingly so, live with their husbands sometimes far away from their families.
The next morning we walked trough the village to see a small group of Islamic people who have been integrated in daily Nepali life. Respect, mindfulness and family life are highly valued by the Nepali people.
Going to school seems to be like that in my parent’s days. Everyone student in one room, sitting next to each other and having difficulty moving around with the class being conducted by one teacher. The black or white board is the only tool a teacher has. With forty four children in one class, individual teaching was not possible as we know in Switzerland and most other developed countries. There are few teachers available to allow for smaller classes and the entire system of teacher education is not very well developed. Teachers from these villages would love to have more basic teaching equipment; better enabling students to have a good chance for their future lives. As one can imagine, equipments cost and technology in Nepal are not inexpensive in addition to the cost of living, itself. The students were very interested and ecstatic about my visit and asked questions about education and occupations in Switzerland.
After visiting these classrooms, I was invited by a small ceremony given in class followed by a student to a blessing whereby all students received their stipend. Important people from the village and politicians; alike, were in attendance. To encourage the students, I addressed them and my message was broadcast on the local radio and appeared in the local newspaper.
These inter-cultural experiences have deeply touched my heart as I never receive this kind of attention in my life as just an everyday person living in Switzerland. Gratitude and honouring life and being one with the people made me feel extremely privileged. The realisation of how we live made me see that we can make changes in our lives while, at the same time, so easily benefiting the lives of those who are less fortunate.
There was a wonderful realisation that it would be possible for both cultures make a huge impact on the world around us and clearly requires sensitive attention from us all.
Andrea Allen, Switzerland
Patron Nepal "Sharing Experience"
Together for Peace & Development
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