The Nepali Podcast
What happened was this: I was staying in this village for quite some time, and I had developed this habit to have a cup of tea in front of the Nepali Hotel where I would also eat Dal Bhaat for lunch and dinner every day. I am the kind of person who really enjoys solitude and stillness – especially in the mornings. Unfortunately this was never really available to me, since I had become the main attraction of the village. And especially the kids had forgotten all about the usual games they would play, but rather had developed a new hobby: Stand 5 meters away from me in a group of 6 to 8 and just stare at me. I so much hated it. I really really need my peace at least once a day – but apparently the kids needed their daily dosage of “staring at the foreign woman”. Of course I tried talking to them and tell them to leave me alone. But this was to no avail. When I adressed them directly, they would immediately run away, but be back after just 1 minute. Since I did not want to give in so easily and just start having my tea in my room, I tried to tease them away. Over a time period of a few days I started to single out especially Rita, since she was the most insistent on staring at me, and the least willing to actually give me an answer when I talked to her. I am still trying to remember how I teased her. I don’t think that I was really nasty, but I vaguely remember that at some point I achieved that she staid away for a whole day. Anyways at one point she suddenly chose to actually answer back. And that was basically all it took for us to become friends. We started chatting and talking a lot. Surprisingly her Nepali was what I was used to hearing from Kathmandu and not the not understandable local dialect. Apparently she had learned to speak like this from listening to the Radio at the some local Hotels there.
When I learned that she had never been to school, I asked her if she wants me to teach her to read and write a little. Which was very difficult, since my own reading and writing abilities in Devanagari back then were anything less than great. Also – not being used to focus on studying – she could keep focus on the studying only for about 10 minutes and then got distracted.
There was an incident where I invited her and her friend to come with me and have some noodles in one Hotel, and the Hotel owner started shouting at her, because he did want her to come inside. He was a highcaste Brahmin or Kshetri and was not willing to let a Dalit girl into his Hotel. Discrimination against low castes is still the worst in Far-West Nepal compared to the rest of Nepal.
Another time there was a Nepali Guy from Kathmandu who worked for some human rights organisation. He was staying in the village for a few days, and at some point he took me to the side and started telling me off, for hanging around the kid so much. He told: “Listen, here in Nepal adults do hang out with kids. This is really inappropriate. People will not respect you, if you behave like a kid yourself. You definitely should spend less time with her. “ I was so upset when he said that – and just thought to myself: >Well if there were kind and sincere and openminded adult Nepali here in this village I would love to spend time with them. But everyone here is just so terribly narrowminded. I feel freaking lonely already. And you will not take the only one friend away from that I was able to make. Even if she is just (!) a kid.< And in reality I said to him: “Yes, I see your point, and I will be glad to spend more time with adults here in the village.” And then did what I wanted to do anyways. Now in the next part read about how I ended up taking the girl away to Kathmandu.