Tag Archives: nepal

Blown away by Women LEAD

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Story Telling Workshop on January 7th/8th.

All I can say is read through the amazing exercises they are doing with middle school girls in KTM. I’m sure this is just the surface of what is sure to be a life altering relationship between these young girls and this amazing organization.

Heartache for Kathmandu

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Homesick for a place I’ve never been. It is a very strange feeling to feel called home to a city that has never been my home. I’ve never looked at its streets, I’ve never smelled its air, I’ve never heard its sounds. And yet, somehow, I can sit here in my living room, close my eyes, and hear the cars, voices, and rumbling of some music somewhere. How clear, the smell of earth, spices, smoke and something familiar I can’t quite place, like the smell of my first elementary school…I can feel the ringing of bells in me better than I can hear them and the sound of all the chatter sounds like an upbeat song, lifting my spirits. I can see it so clearly and just as soon as I glimpse my street, it all goes out of focus as if my glasses have fallen.

The vision is there, its becoming more vivid every day. Each morning as I walk my daughter to the bus and we pass the Buddhist monastery on our way, I turn the prayer wheels. One by one in the row, they get started. With the first touch of each one, I can hear bells chiming in my soul, they turn so effortlessly, as if they have been longing for a finger to come and just barely set them to a spin. I walk around the large dome surrounded by wheels and take my last step down to the final row along the path.
When I get to the end, a part of me longs to stay, to go inside, to remain in the presence of the homelike warmth that surrounds these moments of my day. I feel as though there is a bubble here, one that brings Kathmandu to me. For a moments each day, I am home with these spinning prayers.
I accept that my life is heading ahead without me and that if I tarry too long, I’ll miss the bus. Then, upon leaving with a smile, I wonder how I can feel so strongly about this place, Kathmandu, this country Nepal. With Shiva far away, and no solid reason to continue the fascination  my heart won’t let go. What is there that my soul is pulling me to? What is the whisper in the wind, begging me to fly to a city where I have no family or ties?

Is it an itch because so many people I know are in, heading to, or just returned from Kathmandu?

Is that  in many places I’m stumbling across Nepal as a topic of conversation and I can’t help but feel my heartstrings tugged at the mention of the word.
I’m reminded of the feeling I had for the city I live in now. The magical sound that embraced its name long before I thought to live here. And somehow, before I came to visit, I knew this was my home after college. I came, I saw, I vowed to return. My current city tugged me 3000 miles and its heartstrings were much softer and quieter than the ones singing the praises of Kathmandu. These heartstrings bear more weight, and pull with much more force, the song is louder and the lyrics are becoming clear, that 3000 miles was only part of the way home.

How to say “promise”

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How to say “promise” in Nepali. This is the Google search term that brought someone to my page today. One of my resources uses baacha garnu as the verb for “to promise”. This dictionary is very old and has proven itself to be incorrect a number of a times so I do not vouch for its accuracy. However, its a start.

I suppose if you are referring to a noun, you might be able to use “baacha” as most of the time this dictionary has been correct, when a verb is a word with garnu attached, only garnu is modified to fit tense. I have never used baacha so I am not sure if this is what we should use.

Another source gives bacana as the noun for promise and bacana dinu as the verb form as in “give a promise.” I believe this source is more reliable as far as translations. I haven’t had a chance to discuss with my Nepali friend, but I will check up on this. For now, Ma tapaiilai bacana dinchhura khojii garchhu jivab. (And just in case my Nepali there is incorrect, “I promise to search for the answer.” Afterall, I’m still learning too.

Nepalima these words bhanna auncha?

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In response to the requests to Google on how to say things in Nepali, I am adding this series. I hope to update it as often as good search terms lead people here.

Today’s search: “how to say cute in Nepali” I believe the word is “hisi” for cute.  I should note here that “hisi” is slightly feminine in nature. When Shiva remarks to me on something cheesy I’ve done, he’ll say, “Timi kasto hisi chhau.” as in, you are cute. He often precedes this with a fake, “awww”.

Some related phrases may be:

“You are beautiful” or “Timi kasto raamro cha.” Which always confused me because it directly translates to “how good you are.” I think this phrase can be used for women or men to indicate that they are attractive.

Another way to say, “you are beautiful” is to say, “Timi ati sundar chaau.” Be sure that this is used towards a girl, it can’t translate to handsome. Also, I use timi because Shiva and I always use the timi form, but if you are less familliar with your Nepali friend, I recommend using Tapaii in place of timi. Also, the verb chaau is very informal when speaking directly to someone, I believe that its better to use a different verb such as hununcha, but I do not have a lot of practice conjugating that.

“I love you” which I have seen many ways, but used “Ma timi sanga prem garchhu.” which directly translates to, “me,  you, with love do.”

Just in case you are in a situation where someone is lavishing these sweet words on you and you would rather they back off, you can say, “Malai kunai chasho chaina.” Which I believe means, “for me, anything i do not choose this.” or “i’m not interested.

This is my best attempt at answering these questions and provided a little more. Please forgive me if I’m making mistakes and as always please correct me so that I can make sure I’m provided accurate information.

Hot and Cold Nature, a Nepali Perspective

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Only a few months ago, I read a post that Nepali Jiwan wrote regarding when to eat “hot” or “cold” foods that didn’t pertain to the taste. In that time, I had a vision of a person in a tree with the head in the branches and the navel a wheel of Dharma spinning into the legs dipped in water. This week I found that image I’d created on the cover of a book called Prakriti by Dr. Robert Svoboda. In two days I finished the book and found more to read on the subject.
The parts that have stuck with me most are the parts that define hot and cold people. Shiva and I have had many a difference of opinion on hot vs. cold and perhaps it may be due to our nature. I am a strong Pitta Vata constitution. In the Ayurvedic tradition this means that my nature is that of fire, air, and some water lacking greatly in the grounding nature of the earth. I am driven by movement, transformation and light. The fire nature of the overwhelming Pitta nature also sparks my intensity in the form of anger and frustration. I have great strength as a result of this, but also suffer from impatience.
The concepts regarding my newly discovered Pitta Vata nature is that of the Dosha or balance. It is the balance between the elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Between these for corners is housed a triangle of Pitta (fire and water in nature), Vata (fire and air), and Kapha (air and earth). In my reading, I discovered that in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, these Doshas are critical for diet and daily life. For example, Shiva and I were discussing his need for the sun and in this model, his need for the sun is heavily influenced by his Vata nature. Vatas are cold by nature, always seeking warmth. So Shiva may feel cold and a need for the sun, while my Pitta-vata nature is hot, unreasonably feels a desire for more heat, and increases its own hot-headed nature.
The thing that made me think of Nepali Jiwan’s post, is that she mentions after birth that women are thought to be cold and need hot foods. She mentions that its a mix that tastes bitter and sweet, to warm them back up. She mentioned the presence of fenugreek, which western medicine regards as a good herb to breastmilk production being included in the mix. Vata is considered the cold nature. If a woman is considered “cold” she is considered heavy with Vata and must be fed pungent, bitter, and astringent foods. She might be fed lentils, greens, and cardamom, cumin, ginger. This is just an example and certainly doesn’t represent all the options for a “Vata” diet. What I think is amazing is that so many of the herbs, spices, and foods listed have a scientific purpose postpartum. For example, breastfeeding women and new infants need an extremely high source of folic acid, such as broccoli, collard greens, and asparagus…all foods in the Nepali Vata or “cold” diet.
I think the whole concept of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha is amazing and seems to be spot on for Shiva and I. I am going to be analyzing this diet more closely and seeing how making changes in our diets affects our moods.

LGBT Movement in Nepal

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According to this article more and more people are feeling that it is safe enough to “come out” in Nepal. The movement seems to be much stronger in Kathmandu which is listed as liberal in the article. I like how they article addresses the legal protections that are coming about in Nepal, but I feel that there may be a limitation on what the government can protect. I’ve read articles that say that women are free to inherent in Nepal now, but many families still stick to tradition and only leave inheritance to males. The woman they talk about most in the article seems blessed that her family supports her “third gender” and I am surprised and proud of Nepal for being more progressive than the United States in allowing marriage to be between two people and not a man and a woman at the US does. Here is a link to the story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bibek-bhandari/nepal-lgbti-rights-movement_b_1694277.html

Labels, Labels, Labels

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“Don’t you use gmail labels to organize your life?” 

Seriously, is that even an argument? Sometimes, I think Shiva is completely incapable of having a conversation. I love him to the end of the universe and back, but his brain operates in such different ways than mine does! 

We were discussing the issue I have with his labels. Basically, for the first 9 months that we were together, I wasn’t his “girlfriend.” I don’t know what I was, or what we were doing, but everyone and their brother and their cousin, and their cousins best friend would have called it “dating”. We lived together, went everywhere together, ate together, bathed together, SLEPT together…you get the point. Anyway, it took him nine months of that behavior (after three months of hours long intimate conversations in my kitchen), to label me, “girlfriend”. 
That lasted for all of a few months before he was “breaking up” with me because of the situation with his parents and all the tantrums his father is apparently so good at throwing and I became, “ex-girlfriend.” In that time, I moved my entire life to be with Shiva and then we were back to my “pre-girlfriend” status of doing everything together, including living together AGAIN.” Of course, he would remind me that we were not “dating”. My answer remained as much as ever, “a duck is a duck, regardless of what you call it.” That status lasted until literally about an hour before his parent’s plane touched ground in the US and in that time he rushed most of his belongings to his sibling’s place under the pretense that he’s been living with his sibling the whole time he was actually living with me. 
During this time, my label has undulated between “ex-girlfriend” and “good friend.” Today, I earned the label, “best friend”. This conversation arose during Shiva’s attempt at explaining that although he had said I could meet his parents, now he just couldn’t make that happen and I was explaining that my promise (ultimatum for some who prefer that label) to vacate myself from his life should he continue to act in ways that illustrate a preference for my invisibility to the people that matter most still stood. That’s right, Shiva. I meant what I said, when I told you that if they go back home to Nepal and I do not meet them, I will no longer be your “friend”, “girlfriend”, “ex-girlfriend”, “roommate”…I will be NOTHING, because I will not be in your life, at all. 
It isn’t that I want to be out of his life, but I’ve been vacillating from one label to another for almost two years and I’m really over it  If I matter, then I matter and if I don’t, then let me go. He kept saying that he can never truly be with me, never marry me, never give me what I want because he can never take on the label of “step-father”. Okay, but when pressed, he lacks a definition for his label. He says he isn’t ready to be a “step-father” now and that is fine, but when did I ask that of him? I asked him to have the same relationship with my daughter that he has always had, which has been a positive loving one up until now. But he just can’t move past the labels. 
He kept telling me about how I’m not “Asian” and all of the “Asians” he knows understand what he means. That’s right Shiva, keep going with the labels, I wasn’t Asian when you met me, I never will be, this isn’t new news, but somehow is an important label to mention I lack. But then he actually argues that he doesn’t want to have his life without me. His argument against my label of “nothing” is that I’m actually his “best friend.” What does that mean?
Shiva’s definition of best friend is apparently, “girl that loves me with all she can and does anything for me. She also brightens my world with her sentences that are a mix of Nepali, Newari, and Hindi, her ability to sing along to soundtracks from Dil To Pagal Hai, Dil Se, and Veer Zara. He then went on to tell me that I I’m the most fun to argue with and he doesn’t know what to do with me.” (Didn’t he just finish telling me that he doesn’t know what to do without me either?) He hugs me and holds my hand and leans in close and looks deep into my eyes and all I want is to label him a self-deceiver. Shiva, my love, these are not the actions of a “best friend” these are the actions of a “lover”. So, while we are at this junction discussing labels, lets start applying them realistically. 
ps- We are still on for meeting the parents once he realized that it was still either he’s in or out on this one and I wasn’t wavering. As for what label he’s going to provide to the parents, we’ll just to have to see.  

He Said Yes!

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Ok, so I didn’t ask him to marry me and he flat out says this doesn’t mean we will get married. But Shiva did call me tonight to tell me that he has decided to introduce his parents and I. He told me over and over not to get my hopes up, and I don’t know that I am. If anything, I’m panicking a little.
He hasn’t told his father yet, but he asked his mom about it and says if anything, she is “indifferent.” I’m being given somewhere in the way of two weeks before we meet. Shiva’s plead, “Exercise profusely and get a nice tan on your vacation.” I don’t know how to take that, as if turning my yellow skin, golden could help much, I’ll never look brown, no matter how tan I get. And the sun will only turn my golden hair even closer to white.
But, I don’t care about any of that. I am just so happy to be meeting them. Had to share. Now to jump up the Nepali practice. Any advice is welcome 🙂

Speechless

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I’ve been absent a lot lately, mostly due to the fact that Shiva and I were back living together and our spare time was shared among each other. Then, literally hours before his parent’s plane landed, he took the bare essentials with him and moved to his sibling’s home. 

We’ve had more than a fair share of disagreements, maybe even an argument or two on the subject of meeting his parents. He says that there is no point because they will never approve a marriage and he doesn’t feel comfortable with jumping straight into parenthood so marriage isn’t what he wants either. All he can say is that I am a good friend, and you don’t just introduce your parents to every good “friend” that also happens to be a girl you’ve lived with on and off over a year and with whom you had a serious relationship…serious enough to prompt a cross-country move. I’m still not okay with this end. I cannot make him introduce us, but I know that I cannot keep doing this if he isn’t even going to bother giving a face, a name, a person to the collection of stereotypes that his parents hold about me.

I helped plan the sibling’s graduation/parents welcoming/american and nepali family reunion party  that Shiva hosted recently. I found the venue, helped pick the menu, negotiated the price, and drove Shiva, child, and I all around for a week to visit all the contenders for the event and spent even more hours than that discussing the pros and cons of each, doing financial analysis of each, etc. What an exhausting time! And I loved doing that for him and his family. It mattered to me that they had exactly what they wanted and I had a lot more experience than Shiva at planning parties for large groups, so it seemed natural to help him. I wasn’t invited and that went without saying. What really got me was that he wouldn’t even tell his sibling who is well aware of our “true” situation that I had such a role in planning this event. I just wanted the sibling to know, and he wouldn’t even agree to that. 
Since “moving out” he’s had a sneak dinner with child and I while he was really somewhere else as far as his family knew. He calls really late at night as he whispers while hiding under his covers so that his family (also staying at sibling’s home) do not hear his late night check-ins with me. I want to be understanding and I think I have been so far. But I just want to meet them. My words to him only the night before last…”I just want to look them in the eyes.”

Enter the Universe: ever the joker. Last night I got exactly what I asked for, just not in the way I ever imagined it would happen. I was outside with my daughter on our apartment balcony that oversees our courtyard. And without explanation she bolts down the stairs and heads straight for the sidewalk. There were two walkers coming down the sidewalk and I barely noticed anything than there were two people. I got her to stop right as we reached the steps from our courtyard to the sidewalk. I looked up from my daughter and was staring directly into Shiva’s mother’s eyes.

Even if I’d never seen pictures of them, I would have known exactly who she was. I could see his eyes in her so clearly that it shocked me for a moment before I could even take in her whole face. I saw his sibling in her as well. Then I looked at her partner, exactly as I’ve seen his father pictured, including the same jacket, it was like looking at an older balding Shiva with different eyes. I only glanced at his father a second as his mother was staring at me with her mouth open. 

After a moment that lasted far too long to accurately count, his father began to leave. But his mother just stood there. She would break eye contact only long enough to glance at my daughter and then straight back to my eyes. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t. I wanted to stand up and offer my hand, but I couldn’t. We just stood there, looking at each other, speechless. My daughter pulling on me, Shiva’s father pulling on her, and we couldn’t break the trance we found ourselves in. Finally, I looked down, I don’t think I took a single breath the whole time we were staring. She kept on with Shiva’s father and I stood to look after them. She turned and looked at me 3 times before they were out of view.

The anxiety had taken all my sense away, It took the ability to think, or speak. My daughter grabbed my hands and only snapped me back to awareness by performing a backflip with my assistance. I finally could breath again and just played with my little one, still reeling from the encounter. Then I saw her eyes again. They had turned around and were walking by again. His father was smiling, with the same pursed lips Shiva has when he smirks at me. I smiled back, wondering if he’d be smiling at me if he knew who I was or if he was smiling at me because he knew who I was. I was wearing a university shirt and wondering if they noticed the connection between my university hometown and Shiva.  His mother was frowning but not in a sad or angry way, I couldn’t place the emotion. But she just held eye contact with me as she walked along with Shiva’s father. 

I didn’t say anything. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believed I look right at them and couldn’t say a word. The gift I made them ages ago resting only a flight of stairs away, us only a handshake away and a few words away from meeting. And there she and I stood, both hypnotized by the other, and speechless.