A small treat

Getting out of the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu is always a welcome activity. Kathmandu is charming in its own ways, but living here is a full-time job. So many small things to take care of, so much trouble to go through for just tiny insignificant stuff. It gets tiring sometimes. For me especially. I grew up in a small town. A tiny one, really. I could (and would) walk everywhere. I could get things done in half an hour and spend the rest of the day lazying around. In Kathmandu, when you decide to go out and run an errand, you need to be prepared for a whole day outing. It’s never simple, easy and quick. Therefore, one needs a break from Kathmandu on occasion.

I often try to convince Mr.B we need to get out of the city and go somewhere where we can get a breath of fresh air and relief from the noise pollution. We rarely go. But it so happened that we went out to Dhulikhel just as the view of the mountains was in the midst of its spectacular glory.

Dhulikhel is a small town about 45 minute-drive from Kathmandu that has awesome views of the mountains in winter. I’ve only always heard nice things about this place, and people apparently go there for short and sweet treks. I wouldn’t know, though. Not really sporty, outdoorsy kind of a person. The thought of leaches and other equally creepy beings puts me off. In any case, Dhulikhel offers a number of nice, though modest, resorts. Mr.B and I decided to go just for lunch and not stay overnight. We were not sorry. The weather was perfect, food was good, and the views were beyond expectations. Photos just don’t do it justice. I am serious. I look at the photos and think: this doesn’t look THAT spectacular. But honestly, when you’re there and you can only see mountains all around you, it’s a pretty extraordinary feeling. Highly recommended.

Amazing place to have lunch

Amazing place to have lunch

Wouldn't mind holidaying here

Wouldn’t mind holidaying here

Lovely place

Lovely place

Mountains are gorgeous

Mountains are gorgeous

More mountains

More mountains

Blogging is awesome (most of the time)

Thank you so much, Nepalilovestory, for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. There is nothing nicer than being recognized for your efforts. And when those efforts include something that you love doing, you got a win-win situation.

blog-award

As per the rules of this award, I am supposed to share 7 things about myself. So here it is:

1. I grew up convinced I am a shy person (because that’s what people would tell me), but I realized later on I am an introvert (I am not shy or anxious around people, I just prefer solitude most of the time)

2. I think they based a Virgo horoscope sign on me. It describes me so well.

3. My favorite thing to do is drive. I always say I could drive to the end of the world. A road trip is the best kind of vacation for me.

4. When I was growing up my dream was to be a hotel manager. That changed in an instant when I did an internship in a hotel. Not so fun.

5. I still hang out with my high school friends, and even though I haven’t seen some of them in 3 years, whenever we get together, it’s like we’ve never been apart. I miss them terribly here in Nepal.

6. Only now, in my 30s, I’m starting to figure out my fashion style.

7. I speak 2 languages fluently and stutter 3 more. I also know a bit of American Sign Language.

 

The next thing I’m supposed to do to successfully accept this award, is nominate 15 other amazing bloggers. Here are my contenders:

1. Beauty for Ashes

2. Shivaay Delights

3. Taste of Colours

4. Nepal Mero Maya

5. Lakshmi Loves to Shop

6. Choosing His Joy

7. My India Encounters

8. Food, Pleasure and Health

9. Dreaming in Arabic

10. Okayest Mom

11. Wright Outta Nowhere

12. Cakes, Tea and Dreams

13. When in New Places

14. Thoughts from the Road

15. Our Adventure in Croatia

 

To participate, you must…

1. Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. If you like, proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

If you’d rather not participate, that’s OK too. Just know you’re appreciated.

 

Partaay

I clearly remember attending my first Nepali wedding reception a year ago. I was SO excited. I ironed my sari way ahead of time, to make sure it’s all prepared for the evening. You see, I only had one sari at the time. It was a sari I was gifted by my maid of honor when I traveled to India for her wedding a year earlier. It’s a beautiful piece of cloth (look below). Currently, I am a proud owner of more than just one sari.

I am, clearly, the one on the right.

I am, clearly, the one on the right.

Anyhow, I had my sari ready and when the time came, Mr.B summoned our didi to wrap the sari on me. I was awkward and clumsy, but an hour later sari was clipped onto my body and we were ready to go. The wedding was in a party palace (a fancy name for a wedding hall with catered food) and was packed with people. Everyone, of course, stared at me, and ladies giggled at me walking clumsily in the sari. I bet laughs and giggles doubled (possibly tripled) when I stepped on my sari climbing the stairs to the stage where the bride and the groom were greeting guests. It was then and there that I made an important note to myself: lift the front of your sari as you climb up the stairs. That one has been a life savior (or at least a face savior) ever since. Upon well-wishing the lucky couple, a glass or two of wine and some mingling, it was time to eat. Nepali wedding receptions always have a buffet and people eat whenever they want to. In a Western wedding you usually commit to attending one party per day and then you stay the whole night, eating dinner at the appropriate time and dancing on cue. It’s nothing like that here. Here, people often attend three or more wedding receptions in one evening. They show up, congratulate, eat their food, dance a thirty-second ego-wrecking Bollywood number with a drunken uncle, and off they fly to the next reception.

We (Mr.B and me) usually don’t do that. We commit to one reception per day. It’s only because we’re lazy like that. Going back to the point, my first wedding reception in Nepal was exciting. There was abundance of Nepali food, Indian sweets and ice cream. Nepalis love their ice cream. I had a great time at that reception, and it got me excited for all the receptions to come.  Second one was also exciting, but not as much. Then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth came and one by one they were getting less exciting. I realized one thing – they were all the same! Guests were the same, locations were the same, decorations were the same, protocol was the same, music was the same, food was the same… Heck, even uncles and aunties all looked the same.

This is what happens at a Nepali wedding reception:

1. You come in and head straight to the stage. Bride and groom sit there, receive presents and take photos with guests. They also endure an infinite number of aunty kisses and cheek squeezes.

2. You get off the stage (hopefully with your sari still on), and head for the bar. Get yourself a drink. Beer, whiskey, or soda.

3. You stand around, laugh at some awkward dance moves until you are too bored to smile and your feet are too tired. Then you walk around a bit, greet people you don’t actually want to see, and head out for some fresh air.

4. At that point you decide it’s already 9:30 pm and you should probably get some food. Head for the buffet. There’s a choice of: salads, fried veg noodles, pasta, rice, daal, tarkari, paneer in a variety of sauces, naan, chicken curry, mutton curry.

5. You fill your plate with a bit of everything and find yourself a free spot at the table.

6. Eat trying to ignore the waiters hovering behind your back. They stand there waiting for you to finish so they can take your plate away. They do it as soon as your last bite is in your mouth. Literally. It’s quite hilarious. I always have a hard time not laughing out loud. You kind of have to do that thing where you are still chewing, trying to get waiter’s attention by waving a fork that he forgot to take with the plate.

7. Go get dessert. Pastries, gulab jamun, jalebi and ice cream. Enjoy.

8. Go home.

The best part of wedding receptions in Nepal is getting to hang out with friends. It’s always fun. The worst part? They are all so much alike it’s difficult to remember whose reception it is.

Time flies when you’re having fun

Today is a special day. An auspicious day, really. Today marks one year from the date I landed in Nepal with my one-way ticket. Is it possible that it’s ALREADY been one year? No, wait. Is it possible that it’s ONLY been one year? It feels much longer than a year, yet much shorter than a year at the same time. It’s completely confusing, I know. So many things happened in this one year, so many new people came into my life, so many new experiences challenged and enriched me. I faced emotional hurdles that I never even knew were possible. I leaped into the unknown with the confidence I never knew I had. I think I grew emotionally (waist-wise also) over the last year.

But, enough of the dramatic speech. What stuck with me mostly, you wonder? Here’s the breakdown.

1. I discovered I have a love-hate relationship with dogs. It’s only getting worse with time.

2. Driving on the right side does not necessarily get you into an accident.

3. Modern amenities, infrastructure and technology only hinder romance.

4. Think before you speak is not a common courtesy here, and I should learn to live with it.

5. Resourcefulness of people knows no boundaries.

My life in Nepal is interesting and different and exciting, yet crazy and stressful and annoying at the same time. I do think, though, that everyone should at some point experience life in a third-world country. It really puts things in perspective and values in order. It’s an eye-opening, nerve clenching experience.

I wonder what’s next for Mr.B and me – how the next year will go and where we will end up in terms of our careers, our relationship, our life together. Hopefully we walk together happily into the sunset.

That's us - walking into the sunset, I guess.

That’s us – walking into the sunset.

 

So, you want some food?

Making your way to Nepal and being fed daal-bhaat every day, couple times a day sounds exciting! And it is, for the first couple of days. Then you start realizing that’s all you’ll ever be fed, and your excitement kind of flattens. Don’t get me wrong, daal-bhaat is really tasty. And I love it. But not every day; not all the time. I am used to a very diverse menu. My mom made sure that she always kept lunches and dinners interesting and new, and I loved it.

Now that daal-bhaat is out of the question, or at least limited to once or twice a week, it’s time to go grocery shopping. I have a confession. You’ll think I’m weird – I like grocery shopping. Actually, scratch that. I LOVE grocery shopping. When Mr.B. and I lived in US, grocery shopping would be my favorite thing to do. I had this whole shopping plan that I followed religiously every week according to the pantry/fridge needs and our budget. Several times I brought Mr.B. with me. I thought it would be a fun outing for us. He did not get excited about it, which I can understand to a certain extent – it was a grocery store after all. After he had a number of tantrums in several aisles (namely, dairy and frozen foods), I stopped inviting him to share with me this activity so close to my heart. I realized I enjoyed it best in my own company.

Now, grocery shopping in US is easy. Aisles are clearly marked, products are arranged neatly and logically, prices are displayed, and store usually smells like fresh bread and strawberries (or something). Grocery shopping in Nepal is, ahem, a bit different. I started grocery shopping on my own after gaining my independence back in March 2014. Mr.B. gladly gave up his responsibility of taking me to the store when food supplies run low. I shop in two different stores: Bhat Bhateni, and Saleways. Bhat Bhateni caters more to the typical domestic shopper, while Saleways prefers internationals. I go to Saleways for meat and dairy products, but everything else I buy in BB as it’s a lot cheaper. What both of those stores got in common is the total confusion that lingers from the moment you walk in the shop. Aisles are tiny and filled with stuff. Shelves are totally full, but then the other stuff is just kind of arranged on the floor. Steering the cart is a challenge, believe me.

There seems to be no logical order of arranging things on shelves. Chips and snacks often share their shelf with shampoos, and rice is sometimes found right next to the toilet paper. My favorite part of grocery shopping in Nepal is the surprise factor! You haven’t heard about the surprise factor? Oh, let me tell you aaaaalllll about it then. Every time you walk in the store, you have no clue what to expect. Some times the shelves are moved around. Sometimes the products on the shelves are switched around. Sometimes you find yourself wandering around for hours trying to find things, convincing yourself you have not gone mad, as just last week Oreos were on a cookie shelf, and now you are finding them in the pickled vegetable section. It’s exciting walking in and not knowing how long the whole grocery shopping ordeal will take.

On occasion you come across a product that you particularly like. What you need to do then is buy all of it. Completely clean up the shelf and stock up like a true doomsday hoarder. Chances are, you will never again see this product in Nepali grocery stores. It’s curious really. It’s as if though they have this huge catalog of groceries and they made a point to order different products every time, just to try them all or something. You never know what you’ll be able to find in the store, and whether you’ll come home empty handed, or with a pathetic small bag of canned tuna and peanut butter.

Grocery shopping in Nepal is fun. Not only you never know what awaits you in the shop, but people act just like they do in traffic – pushing and shoving their way through trying to be the first one to the cash register. It’s a competitive little game, but then again, life in Nepal is a competitive game.

 

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