I’m home. I’ve been home for a while. And as you may have noticed, that means I don’t have much to write about Nepal. And so this post comes to put a cap on things. It is intended as a blog-in-review, a selection of the most interesting and eventful things that took place during my time there, and a brief guide to first-time visitors who have no inclination to dig through 21 pages in search of a few highlights. And so, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite posts (in no particular order):
- In which I celebrate Holi
- In which Sundrawoti learns my name is Motorbike
- In which I share an album of our lovely host family
- In which I attempt to teach handball to a school of Nepali boys (spoiler alert: bad idea)
- In which three owls attempt to save a community building, part 1 and part 2
- In which I document rice-planting in Sundrawoti
- In which I ascend the sacred mountain of Kalinchowk
- In which I describe Nepali hospitality
- In which I become a first-grade teacher
- In which I share an album of my weekend excursion to Simigaun
- In which I discuss the water buffalo
- In which Sundrawoti learns my name is not Motorbike
On July 25th, I wrote
And so, after exactly 200 posts about Nepal (plus 2 about Israel and one about Zvi), I bring all regularly scheduled programming to a close
Since that time, I have added an additional five posts, and with this final entry, bring my total to an even 206. Represent.
I know this makes two in a weekend, and I promise not to make a habit out of this, but I wanted to wish a hearty Mazel Tov to my friend Bikash, who found himself a nice Nepali keti:
Feel free to treat the comments section like OnlySimchas
You may recall – but probably don’t, so here’s a link – that I left Nepal with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth because I failed to get my hands on a karela, appropriately translated for the sake of this sentence’s irony, as ‘bitter gourd’.
I googled ‘karela’, ‘bitter gourd’, ‘bitter melon’ – pretty much every variant of the name I could think of, trying to find somewhere selling it in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area. When those searches proved fruitless (or, I suppose, vegetableless), I gave up on the idea of actually locating one for sale near my home; Google’s about as sophisticated as I get these days. Karela would have to wait for my next trip to Nepal.
Then one night, the TV was turned on during dinner – unusual, because we typically only leave it on for Mariners games, Republican debates, and other spectator sports – as a report aired about diversity-themed walking tours on offer in Columbia City. You see, 98118 – my zip code – is officially the most diverse in America, and some local organization was offering to escort people around the ‘hood for $120. I suppose if you can afford to pay $120 for a few-hour guided tour of your own city, the escort service – sorry, tour guide – is probably a good idea.
In the course of the Televised Report, the crew interviewed the proprietor of a grocery store at the heart of this hotbed of diversity, and took some shots inside the typically diverse vegetable bins. I was only half paying attention, but snapped to it when I spotted an entire bin of karela. Too late, I’d already missed the name of the store. And the tour is only offered on Saturday.
So I found my mission once again at a dead end. Until, that is, I stopped at Safeway to pick up a butternut squash for my mother. The store was out of butternut – which is both surprising, and not, given that it was erev Thanksgiving – so I settled for a 2.5-pound buttercup squash, on sale for $.99/lb.
I brought it to the cash register, and the cashier had clearly never seen one before. To be fair, I don’t know if I had either. It certainly looks nothing like a butternut:
She consulted with another cashier, then with her produce book, and was about to go ask the produce manager when I realized the hang-up. I volunteered the name, she thanked me, and rang it up: $11.88. That couldn’t have been right: I did some quick math, and weighed the buttercup in my hand. The squash was definitely not 12 pounds. So I looked closely at the screen over her shoulder, and pointed out that she had accidentally input the code for ‘Bitter Melon’. They’re both green, I guess.
So now I know that the Safeway near my house, at some point in time, carried or plans to carry karela. That would be one less reason to go back to Nepal. Fortunately, I’ll still have plenty of others.
If you happen to find yourself in a situation in which karela is available, I’ve included a recipe, courtesy of Upama Miss and Facebook mobile, after the jump:
Last week’s reading of Ecclesiastes (קהלת) reminded me of something that happened in Nepal so I thought it would be OK to share:
Israelis take their competition seriously. So when the folks over at Mahadev Besi held a Biblical Quiz (חידון תנך) on the occasion of – if I recall correctly* – Israeli Independence Day (יום העצמאות), I got to hear all about it on the way to Bandipur.
One of those who had helped put the quiz together was very proud of a question that asked participants to list instances in which the Bible mentions water. I immediately cast one out there I didn’t think anyone else had named:
שלח לחמך על-פני המים, כי ברב הימים תמצאנו
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes, 11:1)
When she confirmed that my entry had, indeed, not surfaced, I returned to my familiar watering hole:
כל הנחלים הולכים אל הים והים איננו מלא
All the rivers go to the sea; yet the sea is not full (Ecclesiastes, 1:7)
This entry was controversial. Not because I was wrong – no one else had cited this verse – or even because it does not directly include the word ‘water’ – but because of my word choice. Or, to be more accurate, Kohelet’s.
“מים לא הולכים, Water doesn’t ‘go’,” she protested. “מים זורמים, Water ‘flows‘.”
She’s right, of course, in Modern Hebrew. She is also wrong. I tried explaining this to her, but
it was like we were speaking two different languages.
My favorite part about this post is that when I used Google.com to google the exact translation… well, take a look for yourself:**
To the person trying really hard to find the picture of Rajkumari Miss playing Memory at Kalika:
I hope you found it, but in case you’re still having trouble, here ya go
In the previous post, I indicated that I had written my final words on Nepal. I was wrong, after a fashion. I qualify this statement because while this post stems from my time in Nepal, it primarily concerns events that took place in Seattle but three Sundays past.
For it was, on that Sunday, that the Treiger clan sat down to a Tibetan meal, after a fashion. I qualify this statement not do disparage the wonderful cook (a former monk named Lapsang), but to note that the spiciness of the familiar dishes had been – at the request of certain members of the family - toned down. It’s a whole different experience when you can taste what you’re eating.
Said familiar dishes included hearty ‘Sherpa stew’ and steamed dumplings called momos (often filled with ‘buff’ – water buffalo), but the one food to which I had most looked forward was notable in its absence: Tibetan bread, which I first (and best) tasted on our weekend of adventure at Jiri.
After that weekend, I emailed our lovely host Krishna dai and asked for the recipe. If anyone is interested in giving Tibetan bread a shot, here it is:
What you want to learn is very easy. First off, you take wheat flour, then add sugar, salt, baking powder, and eggs. If you want, you can use milk or water and mix it up. Make dough and make like chapatti and roast in hot oil.
We threw a goodbye party for Sundrawoti on our last Sunday in the village; they returned the favor two days later, our last before returning to the Kathmandu.
The party was more or less what you might expect: tika, mala, and dancing.
To give you an idea of the quantity of tika we got to endure, remember that it is traditionally applied to the forehead. This is what my arm looked like: