Final post before leaving Kathmandu and off to a language training centre in Budol, which is near Banepa, the location of my placement for the coming two years.
A few days in to being in Kathmandu, I’m beginning to scratch the surface and the order and rhythm of life is beginning to emerge. It’s undoubtedly been written before, and far better than me about the difficulties faced by Kathmandu, and indeed Nepal. Poverty, lack of access to education, a caste system that clearly inhibits opportunity, pollution and the uncertain political situation are certainly major factors that will influence Nepal’s future.
There is a bandh (strike) scheduled for this coming Monday. Essentially, if a bandh is called, the area effectively becomes a no go area, and a virtual shutdown occurs. This is increasingly the method of political protest used by all of the parties, and seems likely to be a more prevalent activity as 28 May, (the date that the constitution should be written) looms ever closer. This bandh, which is against the Nepal Government outsourcing the manufacture of passports to India will be in Kathmandu after we have departed, but its fair to assume that more will follow throughout the country.
The first week of language training has been immensely rewarding, if a little intense! The teaching method is in small classes of 3 or 4 people. Words and grammar are introduced by the tutor and repetition is the order of the day. Basic sentences are slowly being etched into my brain, and buying certain goods from the street vendors becomes a pleasure rather than a trial. A pleasure helped inordinately by people’s tolerance of my stumbling attempts at the language. The fact that you are trying to speak their language almost inevitably means that they will help you, correct your mistakes and respond to requests of yo ke ho? (what is this?), with the answer. And my favourite phrase of the moment….
…jeevan yestaii chha…
… which I have written on my exercise book like any good schoolboy should (!!), and which means “such is life”… A philosophy which will hopefully guide me through the next two years
…and the title of this blog entry? Nepal, a small sliver of land between India and China, is often represented in this relationship as “a yam between two boulders”. Certainly an apposite desription as the next two years unfold.