Living without a filter

If you chose to live in Kathmandu, you chose to live your life without privacy. In fact, I am not even sure a word for privacy exists in Nepali language. All the houses are so close to each other that at any given moment your neighbours know very well what you’re up to. “Howdy neighbour! I see you are reheating your daal-bhatt for dinner. You might want to reduce the flame as your rice could burn easily. The brand you’re buying is not that good”, is what they would say upon seeing you in the kitchen.

I, for example, know exactly on what days our first-door neighbour does his morning exercise, what days he practices playing his flute, and what days is the singing practice for him. Needless to say, all of those are not pleasurable for us. During his exercise he encourages himself loudly by saying “breathe in, breathe out”, and he is a beginner in both flute playing and signing. But at least the guy’s got hobbies, no?

Nepalis are rather curious people. I grew up in a small town in Croatia, and I am somewhat used to people constantly spying on neighbours, talking behind their backs and such. But no one does it so openly like Nepalis do. There are no private stuff here, no secrets. You got indigestion problems? Be sure all the neighbours, family members and friends will know about it within several hours. Something embarrassing happened to you? No worries, let me spread it to everyone real quick so you can feel even worse about yourself.

If you get a little plump from all the rice, don’t be surprised when people openly tell you you put on weight. If you have a bad hair day, rest assured someone will comment on it. Your lips are too small, yup, better suck it up, as people will be looking at you and commenting. Your hair is too long/short, your face is too pale/dark, your clothes is too small/big… these and much more are openly commented on at any given moment. And it’s not like we’re not all thinking that, but Nepalis are the ones who would actually say it right to your face. That’s fair enough though, I believe. You always know where you stand with others and what they think of you. No hidden meanings and games here. Honest and fair. Without a filter.