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:
Some advice: if you ever go tramping around a flooded rice patty, pick up and carry your shoes.
I did buy a replacement pair. It may fit better, but is not orange
If you are thinking about volunteering with Tevel B’Tzedek in Nepal, I would strongly recommend the spring over the winter.
Spring in Sundrawoti is a happening time: Our hosts literally dug up their field and planted makaai during our three-day visit to Sundrawoti in late February. We arrived for the long haul in late March, just as it came time to harvest wheat and radish seeds. And the session wrapped up with possibly the most interesting process of them all, rice planting (dan ropne).
I’ll describe it briefly before going to the slideshow.
Step 1: Rice seeds are planted densely in scattered terraces which serve as nurseries. For a few weeks, these patches of brilliant emerald stand out amongst the other-wise drab terraces.
Step 2: Villagers prepare fields for rice planting by lining them with small mud walls, flooding them, and plowing/surfing them (as featured on the Nepali two-rupee coin):
Step 3: Women slowly make their way through prepared fields, singing songs and planting rice stalks harvested from the nurseries as they go:
The whole affair has a festive atmosphere – I could hear something was going on down by the river from the road, a 20-minute walk uphill:
The amazing thing about rice planting season is that it occurs in an intense burst of activity over a short period. The whole village works together in one another’s fields to help get the job done. The following pictures are taken from three separate rice-planting events:
As we wrapped up our time in Sundrawoti, it came time to say goodbye.
So we invited the whole village to a party. It was the only activity we planned in Sundrawoti that people showed up for on time. We brought some food, wrote some speeches, penned some skits. I’ll spare you the speeches and skits, but I will share the highlight of the party: a 10-question quiz for the entire village.
Question 1: which of the Israeli volunteers does not actually live in Israel?
The prize-winning answer, of course: Motorbike
Skip ahead to Question 10: List all of the Israeli volunteers’ Israeli names (as opposed to their Nepali names, like Man Bahadur, Parisat, Harka Maya, etc.)
Tal… Dafna… Avigayil… Timna… Alisa…… Motorbike!
Uh oh. It took a few tries before we got as close as ‘Moti’*.
And so, as we said goodbye, Sundrawoti said hello, for the first time, to Mordechai:
Admittedly, not the world’s greatest picture (thanks, cell phone), but it’s just so very Nepali:
I watched a lot of chickens lose their heads in Nepal.
I saw countless animal sacrifices at the Bimeshwor Temple. I watched a chicken slaughtered in the New Passal kitchen get fed to a kitten. And as I walked upstairs to my room in Singati, I passed one whose head was being slowly sawed off in the hotel’s sink.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The chicken slaughters had involved an uncomfortable amount of sawing at dangling chicken necks. Goat necks are about as thick as a whole chicken, so I steeled myself for something terrible.
It wasn’t so bad. A board was fetched from a nearby construction site, the goat lay down on the board, the kukuri took one downward swing, the goat was suddenly two goats, and the board was calmly returned across the street.
I obviously took pictures, but I’ll share those after the jump for those of you who would rather not watch:
A quick recap of things I probably contracted from water in my four months in Nepal:
- Giardia lamblia
- Ascaris lunibricoids
- Another, unidentified bacterial or viral infection
- Possible arsenic poisoning*
*Only ‘possible’ because the lab messed up my sample and I have yet to give a new one
So you can imagine how excited I am to back in a country with disease-free, clean water, where I don’t have to worry about taking a drink, to say nothing of brushing my teeth.
Oh, right. America, everybody: