6

The Cold In Nepal

(Disclaimer: I wrote this post 2 weeks ago, and then forgot about it. But it’s still relevant…kind of.)

Before we left for Nepal, many people in Sweden would ask us ‘So how is the weather in Nepal?’. On a side note: I have no memory of getting this question that often when I would be in the Netherlands before going somewhere far. Why, Sweden? What’s so interesting about the weather?

Anyhow, usually the conversation would go something like this:

Us: Pretty cold, now that it’s winter!
Them (picturing Sweden in wintertime): Oh, really? Does it snow?
Us: No, it actually doesn’t go below zero where we live.
Them: So what is the average temperature?
Us: Well…in day time it can be up to 20 degrees, in the sun. (we see an eyebrow go up slightly)
Us, quickly: But it gets colder in the evening! And, and, there is no heating! No really…we SUFFER!
We can just see how they quietly judge us….how dare you say it’s cold in Nepal! Sweden in winter, now THAT’S cold!

And while we understand that cold is relative, and that snow and ice would be much worse than what we have to endure, I would like to do an effort to make you, dear reader, understand what it’s like to experience a Nepali winter. Because temperatures don’t say THAT much without central heating.
If you do like to know better what the temperatures are, I got this forecast for Pokhara. Check out those minimum temperatures! It’s ALMOST freezing, at least!

het weer

First of all, the houses are made of concrete, often with marble floors. Doesn’t quite give that cozy atmosphere you’re looking for when you can see your own breath coming out in clouds.
Then the windows are single glass, with wooden frames that never fit well. To illustrate this: with all doors and windows closed, we can still see the curtains move back and forth in the draft…
While the sun in the day time is lovely, the moment you step into the concrete house you can feel the cold come up from the floors. It doesn’t hold heat at all. Even when you put a gas heater in the room, you only get warm sitting right in front of it. Because the lack of insulation, all the heat then goes straight through the windows (and the 5cm gap under the front door doesn’t help much either, I suppose).

Cloudy days are the worst. There is nowhere to heat up, so you just wrap yourself in a fleece blanket, while dreaming of the beaches in Thailand.

This is what I wear on a regular winter day (besides underwear, obviously):

– long johns (or just some good old plain leggings from H&M)
– pants
– 2 pairs of thin socks
– 1 pair of thick woolen socks (if I’m indoors)
– tank top
– t shirt
– long sleeve (or 2)
– fleece vest

Sometimes indoors I will add one of Jacobs hoodies, or a down vest, and I always walk around on slippers, so my feet stay warmer.
On the motorbike I will wear a soft shell (wind stopper or something) jacket instead of the fleece, although when driving at night I need both.
When walking or cycling I will take of the fleece, but only if I’m moving/in the sun.

But before you start sending us electrical blankets, hot water bottles and down pants: it’s really not that bad, as the temperatures will rise again in February, and then boom, summer comes: 7 months of 30 plus degrees and humidity. We love the marble floors, then. And would be miserable if the houses were actually insulated.

So really. We’ll be fine ;)

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3

Fans, Batteries and Filters – Life In Nepal

We’ve eaten momo’s, we’ve driven the motorbike, we’ve had dal bhat with fried fish at the landlord’s house.
We’re back in Nepal.

And now that we are here, I’ve realized that I’ve never shown some of the smaller, practical details of living here. Because while I’m sure most of you understand that life here is different than in, say, the Netherlands, it might be interesting to know what kinds of things we use in our daily lives here. Some are to make life better, others are to avoid diseases, and then there’s the toiletpaper bin, just because we can’t flush it down here.

As you may know, there is never 24/7 power in Nepal. We have ‘loadshedding’, which means the power is out for several hours a day. More in the winter than in the summer. Right now we don’t have power for 8 hours a day. So first I will introduce this extremely ugly thing to you, because it has made our lives better in summer AND in winter. The fan-with-battery-and-light!!

 

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Oh, the glory. Despite its ugliness, I could kiss it. It charges when there is power and then, when the power goes out in the hot summer, and the fan stops working and the sweat starts dripping, this fan STILL works and makes everything better. And, as you may have noticed, it also has a light (the weird arm on the side – it can fold in and out and you can even twist it). It has made cooking when there is no power and no light (and the back up system down) so much easier.

Then there’s the water filter.

 

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If you think now: why don’t you drink tap water? Then please, I beg you, do not come to Nepal until you have read up on giardia and amoebas.

When there is power, this thing filters all the crap out of our water so that we stay healthy.
PS – note the safe outlet it is plugged into.

All those power outages can give problems for electrical appliances, and we needed to protect our fridge. We got this:

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Don’t ask me how it works or what it does, but our fridge works fine and I’m happy.

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Here you see the thing that rules them all: THE INVERTER. I first bought one after I received a generous gift from people in the Netherlands. Because of it, we can have lights on at night when the power is out. No more working with candle light, no more shining my cellphone light to find the bathroom.
Right now they have replaced the battery which was very dead after 3 years of using it, and we upgraded so we even have light in the bedroom and dining room. The glory!

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Who enjoys a cold shower? Not me! This thing is connected to a gas cylinder (with the blue hose) and heats the water. I also use it for when we wash our clothes (by hand) so it gets cleaner + my hands don’t fall off after an hour in freezing cold water.
Those gas cylinders (also one for cooking) are stored outside, locked into a serious cage, to make sure no one steals them.

Back to those diseases: there is many ways to get the dreaded explosives, and while often we don’t even know where it came from, there is another way to prevent this:

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Anything that is not peeled or cooked should be soaked in water with a few drops of the brown stuff and then it’s ok to eat. It’s like magic. Because now we can eat strawberries.

And last but not least: here’s the tp bin. Blurry but you get the point.
That’s just life, in Nepal.

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2

Compassion

We all know that poverty exists, but we often prefer to keep a safe distance. Because a close up of poverty is, simply put, not pretty.
But when it is in your face almost everyday, you are forced to think of your response to it.

And though we all know that compassion is what our response should be, a hurting heart does not necessarily initiate giving generously when you are confronted day after day after day with street kids, disabled men that push themselves through the street on a little cart, homeless people with a sky high hospital bill, abandoned babies.
Kids with glue bags in their hands who ask for money but say no thanks to the orange you offer.
A guy on your doorstep with a rice bag and torn clothes, his family is sick, he is hungry. Or so he says.

Cause maybe he is making it up.
And money doesn’t solve the problems, does it?
And wouldn’t he just spend it on drugs anyway?
And what if he comes back tomorrow, and the day after?
And I wish he wouldn’t sit on my porch like that, why doesn’t he leave…
And you find yourself hiding in the kitchen, with your cup of coffee and your fancy chocolate cookie, quietly wishing the guy would just leave now, if only he would leave….

And then you remember those words
spoken long ago

 

…Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

 

3

On My Mind Right Now

1. Thanks to the cyclone in eastern India, it has been raining here non stop since last night. I’m really cold, I put on socks and I’m sitting here with a yak wool blanket wrapped around me, drinking hot coffee. Then I saw the thermometer in our hallway. It says 21 C.

???!!!

Not sure how that will work out with moving to Sweden, when right now it’s NINE degrees in Vetlanda.

2. When I start learning Swedish, I will already excel in the categories ‘cooking and baking’ and ‘renting an apartment’. The proof for that is the Danish wienerbröd we baked last night from a Swedish cookbook, and the fact I managed to make a profile AND apply for several apartments on an all Swedish website. Yes, I do have a personal translator living with me. But still.
Now picture an Instagram picture of a delicious looking Danish wienerbröd with custard and icing. Hashtag mylifeisawesome.

3. I have clicked ‘refresh’ on the Swedish apartment website about 2.530.959.113 times today. There is 2 people ahead of us for the apartment we have applied for.
Now, how long does it take to make up your mind if you want it or not? MAKE A DECISION ALREADY!!1!!!

 

9

How To…Kill A Buffalo In Nepal

(Warning: picture with blood below in this post.)

1. Get a buffalo.

buffalo2

2. Hammer an iron rod into the ground.

3. Attach buffalo and buffalo’s front leg to rod with a rope.

4. Get previously used (ginormous) hammer and hit the buffalo right on top of his head so it dies.

5. Hit a few more times to make sure it’s really dead.

6. Cut the throat and catch the blood.

7. Skin it, cut it, share the meat amongst the neighbors.

 

buffalo

 

[Some background information: right now it’s Dashain, Nepal’s biggest Hindu festival. Animals are being slaughtered for the purpose of sacrifice as well as feasts.]

8

Chinese Monopoly

We really like boardgames. It has even come to the point where we have a weekly game night at our place. Most board games don’t work for 2 people, but a friend of ours lives on a mountain nearby and is happy to come down every now and then for a nice meal and a game. It’s a win win situation, really!

There is one department store in town, and that’s where we scored a funky version of Risk. We also got Scotland Yard from there, and then we have some card games (brought from home) like Koehandel and Bohnanza.

But recently we became the proud owners of a brand new Monopoly game. The first thing we noticed was that the street names were in French. But that shouldn’t be a problem.
Then, while playing, we started noticing a few more details that didn’t seem to be quite right…

Paker brothersMaybe we could have taken this as a little hint…

street namesGood luck getting your property card when you buy Boulevard Malesherbes…

street namesThis is the front

street names…and this is the back. Eiffel Tower? Christ Redeemer?

chanceThat just sounds cute.

community chestBut we really had no idea what this was supposed to mean. Do we get anything? Or are we supposed to pay something? 7%, but over what?

aeroports Now that’s cool. More rent if you own more ‘aeroports’. But wait…where ARE the aeroports…? How can we own them?

community chestGo back, Belleville!!

frueFrue?

street namesOk ok, I know. We could figure this one out easily. But still.

streefTo call a street a streef is one thing.

street nameBut now it gets confusing. A street and a streef. And one of the properties simply doesn’t have a card.

 

not sure

I guess in the end they weren’t so sure of this game either.

9

I Made Pesto – Now What?

I threw basil leaves, cashew nuts*, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese (that’s right – Parmesan cheese. The real deal) in a blender, and pesto came out.

Then I put it in an ice cube tray so I could freeze it.

pesto

Because after 3,5 years without pesto, I simply don’t know what to do.

So what do I do? Recipes? Ideas? Let me know!

ps – actually, I did know what to do this morning. I put cheese and pesto on my home made bagel. That was the best breakfast in a long time. Yes, I wrote ‘home made bagel’. I made bagels. At home. Thank you internet.

*mam, dat hadden pijnboompitten moeten zijn. Die stierven een voortijdige dood :(