Pariaman My Nepali Podcast
Often times I still feel weird and presumptuous to be writing about Nepal and the language as if I was a better expert on the subjects than any Nepali. Often my inner censor awakens and shouts at me: “Who do you think you are, talking about this? You better shut up!” But then I remind myself that I actually believe that such a insightful outsider’s perspective can be of value to both sides: The outsiders (foreigners) who seek to gain further insight and the insiders (nepali) who seek to gain a clearer or new perspective on themselves.
A positive catalyst for both sides
I therefore hope that my perspective might work as a positive catalyst for both sides: Foreigners might encounter Nepal with greater understanding and curiosity – from which only good can come. And Nepali might discover impulses and visions within themselves that could lead to a positive progress within the society.
Of course this blog only is a tiny contribution to that. But no matter how tiny anything is, as long as it is for a positive purpose it is worth it.
Someone in a position like mine has a powerful tool at hand if they know how to use it: We can facilitate communication. I have an idea how a foreigner would relate to Nepal, but by now I also have quite a good idea how a Nepali relates to their own country.
A typical misunderstanding between Nepalis and foreigners
Take for example this one time I was asked in all sincerity by a group of man from Accham: “Bahini, when you get married, for how long will you get married?” Not understanding where those men were coming from, probably would have led to me being offended and saying something like: “Listen, you people might get married only temporarily, but in my country we treat marriage with sincerity and plan to stay together forever.”
In reality though for many Nepali the high divorce rate and the fact that divorce is not a taboo topic in our Western society, made them assume that concept of marriage as such must be completely different from what it is like in Nepal. They assumed that since marriage is something sacred and not to be broken, the fact that people divorce as much in the west and openly talk about it, must mean that people plan a marriage only for a certain amount of time. And I have to admit, that writing it down like this – their logic is quite convincing.
Still in that situation I (tried to) explained to them that even though divorce is something common in Germany, still people get married with the sincere belief that they will stay together forever. And that from my understanding really the major difference is that when problems arise people chose their individual happiness over the marriage obligation. That in general there is less willingness to compromise themselves for what they believe is expected of them. I am not sure that my intermediate level was capable to communicate these ideas into their local Acchami dialect, but at least they nodded their heads – and maybe now the next time they meet a foreigner they will at least ask: “So why are people in the West so selfish and do not take their marriage vows seriously?”
Even tough that is not a particular nice thing to hear for a Westerner, but at least it opens up the chance for a little more understanding between the two sides. Maybe there will be a chance to communicate more about the positive qualities the Western individualism actually brings to individuals and the community as a whole. And maybe there will also a chance to contemplate our own relation to commitments and what it takes to make a marriage actually work.