Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Festivals, Blessings and Tikka

The last two weeks have been a blur of festivals and blessings and so much tikka I’m afraid to report that my forehead is stained red. We went to Pokhara, we attended a wedding, we have visited friends, but it wasn’t all play I promise! We also squeezed in a training session for early years teachers at Rock Regency which was really well received.

Pokhara was hot, hot, hot. We arrived after a frightful journey that took over eight hours and many breakdowns to a huge thunderstorm. The following morning the town was scrubbed clean and the sun beat down on us as we explored the lake and the town. We later went to Begnas Lake, about half an hour away from the tourist strip of Pokhara. It is very very beautiful, a bit like a cross between places I have seen in England and Italy, but of course, very Nepalese with rice fields cutting own to the lake, and not fields of sheep like at home. We walked down to the lake and Janaki and I put our tired feet in it. Eagles swooped low over the water as we made our way slowly back up the hill. Just as we reached our homestay, suddenly the huge peaks of the Annapurna range appeared over the clouds, unbelievably big and white, like jagged teeth.

After driving back to Pokhara and doing some resources shopping and (very important) present buying for people back home, we returned to Tansen in the comfort of a little car in four hours flat.
The training was building on the early years work we had done with the teachers at Devwari school, but on a bigger scale and with more time for us to explain ourselves. Saran did an excellent job of translating, and when he had to pop out to the bank our wonderful friend Sama from Devwari kindly stepped in to help us!

So, we were feeling quite pleased and accomplished last Saturday, when suddenly Dhani and Janaki’s brother appear from the village – Hari had gone to meet a lady there, they had promptly become engaged, and the wedding was in two days. Thinking about the extravagant affairs I’ve been to in the UK, there’s no way they could have been pulled together in just two days, but Dhani and Janaki managed it, buying saris and clothes and jewels and makeup and scarves for the bride. Ever on the lookout for excuses to buy clothes, I happily went off and ordered myself some traditional clothes, careful not to choose any red. Only married ladies are supposed to wear red, and I didn’t want to be the Western girl making a big social faux pas at the wedding.

We ate a traditional Newari meal with Sagar’s family on Sunday night, and it was fascinated to see the men all lined up in age order eating from banana leaves, and I sat next to the youngest grandson, who spoke flawless English. We went downstairs and sat on the balcony while the men drank and smoked, discussing politics and how Nepal was 250 years behind the rest of the world, and how much they honoured their culture and traditions. Somebody produced an enormous tortoise that had once famously been mauled by a jungle leopard, Sagar set the floor on fire with some home brewed wine, and we decided it was time to go home.

Monday came, and we were late for the wedding while we waited anxiously for the groom’s suit to be finished at the tailors and sent over to us – only very slightly cutting it fine! The wedding was beautiful, the bride looked gorgeous, draped in yards of red fabric and adorned with thousands of sequins, beads, and gold jewellery. I didn’t follow much of the religious parts, but as far as I could see there was a lot of blessing going on, and praying together, and promising to look after each other. She was only a year older than me, and though here it is completely normal, I wondered how I would feel if my parents had chosen a husband for me. It made me laugh to see large groups of men sitting around chatting while the blessings were taking place, and if we had been in England I’m sure every one of them would have had a pint in his hand.

We spent the day after Desain at our friend Sama’s house with her lovely family. We were blessed and given fruit and fed, twice! We watched family videos on the tv and her young brother, the same age as my own, had performed an incredibly complicated dance to Justin Bieber at his school performance. George, if you’re reading this, I love you to pieces but it must be said your dancing skills are not quite so accomplished…

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