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Little Nepal


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#1 admin

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 12:18 AM

WNSO Newsletter, Vol 1. Issue 3
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By Rabi Thapa
London, UK


The enigma of arrival

It’s a beautiful day (in pharen)…

Your turn at the cash machine. You slip out your brand new bank card and pause, baffled. After all, you are trying to persuade a hole in the wall to hand out money. You shove your card in one way, then the other. After an age, it slides in smoothly.
‘Enter your pin code’
You fumble with the keys, and your card comes back out with three loud beeps.
‘Invalid pin code’
Beads of sweat break out on your forehead as you push your card in again. Gingerly, you enter your code and wait. BEEPBEEPBEEP. With a click, your card slides out, and you don’t understand why. Perhaps you got the code wrong? You sense the lengthening queue behind you, its components glaring at you dully.


You are confronted with a traffic roundabout, a whirl of blaring cars and unpredictable lights. You look to your right, then your left. You detect a lull and step out, firmly striding over to the other side of the road. Of a sudden, you see cars speeding towards you, turning into your path from a hitherto unseen junction. You’ve been tricked!! You bolt over, thoroughly shaken, imagining cruel smiles and exasperated grunts all around you.


First day of University, and you have been invited to a barbecue ‘n beer party to meet everybody in your hostel. When you finally locate the place, it's a riot. Loud music, screams of laughter, people who seem younger yet older mingling freely, as if they’ve known each other for years. You nervously walk up to the bar, grab a glass of beer and turn to face the maelstrom. A couple of kids with name tags (where’s yours?) stop briefly and unleash torrents of questions. Unaccustomed to kuires and their language, you offer the barest of answers. Your mouth twists into a painful smile of apology. They leave, and you are left with the feeling that you cannot keep up. The prospect of so many kuires drains your spirit, and you sidle over to a corner where two equally rattled international students stand, grimly clutching their beers. You smile, and they smile back.
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#2 admin

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 12:18 AM

And finally, your day done, your identity a jumble of contradictions, you head home. You feel mentally, physically, and emotionally spent. You board the train, sigh into your seat, and close your eyes. After a while you look around, and a man sitting opposite smiles and dips his head in greeting. You smile back, feeling as though you have been welcomed, somehow. To your surprise, he leans forward and starts chatting in a most open and friendly manner. You respond to his questions, telling him about Nepal and your recent move overseas. ‘So you’re a Buddhist?’ he wonders. ‘No, I’m Hindu…but well really I am not that religious..,’ you laugh. ‘Really? That’s interesting. What do you think of Christianity?’ he asks, seriously. ‘Well…’ you hesitate, reluctant to offend your new friend. ‘It’s a big religion...’ ‘Yes,’ he nods, enthusiastically. ‘And it’s getting bigger all the time…we like to think that God is sending us a new harvest of disciples – international students! Have you ever considered going to Church?’ You are stunned. You manage to stammer, ‘No, but..’ He smiles again. ‘Well, you see every Sunday we meet up and go to church. Afterwards we take a walk, or play soccer. It’s very informal, we’re all friends and we help each other. Here’s our address...we're called the Jesus Army.’

You get off the train five stops early.


So there you are. A week into pharen, and you are struggling to find your footing, in so many ways. Orientation Week has collapsed into Disorientation Week.

Never fear. With luck, the process of re-orienting has already begun with the first dalbhat dinner you were invited to. And there’s more you can do to keep that nasty old culture shock at bay. From one who’s been out in the field for a while, here are some tips to ensure that unique, learning, foreign experience.


The comfort zone

When in Rome, do as the Romans do? False. Ever since the fall of the Roman Empire. The first rule of engagement, home and abroad, is afnomaanche. Live, speak and eat Nepali. Those fortunate enough will have contacts (or contacts of contacts) they can stay with. International students, particularly Asians (since you have so much in common), are a reasonable substitute . Living with Nepalis is a good way to ease the transition of living abroad, even negating the need for one. Plus you will save money, if you don’t mind sleeping in corridors, or swapping with the day-shift.

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#3 admin

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 12:18 AM

The law of the comfort zone dictates that you hang out with Nepalis as well (again, international students will do at a pinch). This ensures you will maintain proficiency in the Nepali tongue. Since you don’t hang out with kuires anyway, the host language as a spoken idiom is virtually useless. Besides, at least with Nepalis you know how you’ll be spending your time. What better than to replicate what you so enjoyed at home?

Eat Nepali, day in day out, unless you’re in a hurry, when McDonald’s or Pizza Hut will do. On those occasions when Nepali visitors crave western cuisine, the aforementioned establishments will do very nicely. After all, kuires subsist on this diet.

Accentuate your policy of minimal contact by continuing to refer to the locals as kuires, railing against their inherent racism in the same breath you slander dhotis. Reinforce your standing within the comfort zone by joining a Nepali organisation. Never mind that many are deeply flawed endeavours that fracture along the familiar lines of caste, class, and occupation and are fraught with fruitless politicking. A Nepali organisation provides the perfect opportunity to observe the reassuring resilience of your culture. I’m not referring to the culture celebrated by Nepali artistes invited over (worthy initiatives, since you will drink your fill of the host culture by frequenting the local Cineplex), rather the culture exhibited in these gatherings of the tribe. For one, gender roles are preserved; middle-aged women in saris ladle out the food while men in topis make empty speeches, and ancient courtship rituals engage the attention of starved youngsters. Also available here is the opportunity to witter on about The Terrible State of Nepal, and What Needs To Be Done. The therapeutic effects of this last are remarkable. After a long day of washing dishes cutting chicken packing doughnuts serving coffee standing guard cleaning toilets for the Man, lamenting the stagnant mire you remember as Nepal can work as an anaesthetic.

There’s also your own future to consider. Do strive to establish residency in the host country by callously manipulating partners from the host culture, but abandon them if your departure seems inevitable. With some planning, you may walk straight into a sanctimonious arranged marriage in Nepal. And before you know it, you’re back – enriched and educated, but hardly by the culture you lived on.

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#4 admin

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 12:19 AM


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It could happen to you. The more mundane (and amusing) face-offs with technology are easily overcome, and parallel the experiences of villagers encountering the Bishal Bazaar escalator for the first time. Even the most inveterate pakhe will pick up survival skills. However, the cultural, spiritual and moral dislocations experienced by Nepalis abroad can be more distressing. Unfortunately, we rarely attempt to come to terms with the culture we are the kuires in. Sublimating these dislocations by the creation of a comforting ‘Little Nepal’ may help Nepalis abroad cope, but it can be a suffocating and unenlightening cocoon if one is limited to it. Therein lies the paradox of the Nepali abroad who strays from the pack. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

You may claim you’re here to get a degree or make money or simply to join your family, not to become a kuire. But symbiosis is far preferable to parasitism, and we all reap the dividends of our willingness to engage with the host culture. Ke garne? Perhaps one should follow the advice I was offered by an international student in the UK: ‘Don’t stick with the brownies’.
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#5 MohanTara

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 10:22 AM

This is a beautiful piece of article except the last sentence ...
Isn't is a being racist...
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Without Faith,Nothing's Possible
With It,Nothing's Impossible!!

#6 sawmer

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 03:41 AM

mini Nepal!!! is that what Nepal is?
Sameer.....
baharo phool barsaoo
mera mehboob aaya hei....
mera mehboob aaya hei...

You will receive ur white coat---a symbol of trust and unique relationship that a physician enjoys with his or her patients............

#7 sawmer

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 03:42 AM

mini Nepal!!! that is what Nepal is but we nepalis got bishal chati
Sameer.....
baharo phool barsaoo
mera mehboob aaya hei....
mera mehboob aaya hei...

You will receive ur white coat---a symbol of trust and unique relationship that a physician enjoys with his or her patients............

#8 Pokhrel

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 05:53 PM

Thanks to Rabi Thapa for sparing his precious time in writing about the real fact about Nepal.

The article is really nice.

Keep it up!

Have a great time!
Thank you,

Yours truly

#9 Bharat Thapa

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Posted 22 December 2004 - 12:08 AM

QUOTE(Pokhrel @ Dec 20 2004, 06:53 PM)
Thanks to Rabi Thapa for sparing his precious time in writing about the real fact about Nepal.

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I think Rabi jee trying to high light Nepalese fact overseas than real fact of Nepal.
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