“Travel broadens the mind and loosens the bowels”

2014-08-23T18:16:41+00:00 August 23rd, 2014|HVP, Nepal, Travel Diary|Comments Off on “Travel broadens the mind and loosens the bowels”

Some stuff has happened.

Life is so hectic nowadays that it’s almost impossible to find a spare five minutes in which we don’t just want to crawl into bed and nap until the next millenium. So blogging has been sporadic at best, and I can’t hope to recount the events of the past almost-two weeks in enough detail, so a brief overview will have to do.

We’ve all managed to adjust to the role of teacher fairly well, even graduating to marking things at the real teachers’ desks on the first floor of the school. Lesson planning is a real drag, but definitely worth it (because there is nothing worse than standing at the front of 20-odd restless children and floundering for something to do), and I’m starting to get into the whole thing. The majority of the kids are really enthusiastic about learning, and when they finally understand something that I’ve been trying to explain for a full twenty minutes, it gives a real sense of satisfaction. Then again, when they continue to give me blank looks after half an hour, it does sometimes make me want to bang my head against the whiteboard.

We’re doing our best to integrate ourselves better into the school, chatting to the teachers as much as possible when we get the chance, and trying not to just run off to our bedrooms as soon as class has finished to hide from the world. It’s very difficult. The gravitational pull of the nap is very strong. But we struggle on.

We’ve now met the two girls who are working in HVP Thali, about an hour away from where we are, who’ve been in Nepal for a bit longer than us. They rocked up to the school on Friday evening and announced that they were staying, and we were all pretty much too tired to remember how to be polite human beings. Hopefully they didn’t notice too much. They seem pretty clued up on this teaching lark – more so than we are, despite the fact that we’ve actually been teaching for about the same length of time.

The weekend just gone we went to Thamel for a visit, staying in a hostel called Alobar1000. It was a much needed break from being in the same room and the same building all day, and the hostel did not disappoint. At only $4.50 a night, our expectations were not high, but with our basic desires being pretty much a) a bed and b) a shower, we weren’t disappointed. The showers were warm, the beer was cold, and the crepes were plentiful, and if there are greater pleasures in life then I don’t have any particular desire for them.

We spent quite a lot of time just revelling in the fact that we had a nice place to stay, sitting out on the rooftop in the sun, then retreating to the indoors when we started to feel that we were burning (i.e. after about 1 minute 45 seconds). We spent quite a long time chatting to people before going anywhere, including a slightly odd Australian girl who seemed to be very spaced out (hmmmm) and for some reason felt the need to say “True” after every statement you made. The beers were very cheap and very large, which wasn’t a particularly good combo after little to eat and at a relatively high altitude, but the top floor area was very conducive to recovery, consisting primarily of cushions, so we made sure to make the most of that before venturing out. We spent most of that evening wandering around the tourist markets, buying things we didn’t need for prices that we shouldn’t have paid, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves (my haggling muscles were in need of a stretch). I am now about half way to fulfilling my required quota of gap-yah trousers, and am the proud owner of a new lampshade and a calendar with a Buddha on it. Matt is also now in possession of a yak-wool jumper which, in his words, ‘still has that authentic yak smell on it’ – i.e. it smells revolting.

We returned to the hostel laden down with polythene bags and itching to try out the aforementioned warm(ish) showers. Some of us chatted whilst the others showered, and we found Ella and Ellen, the Thali volunteers, sitting upstairs. We ended up having a night out all together, sampling some delicious 80p apple vodka from a mini market, and finding ourselves in a club that seemed to be attached to a brothel. The music at said club was actually great though, and Matt and Nathan got involved in several dance-offs with the Nepali men that were crowding around us, which provided high level entertainment.

We made it back to the hostel at the reasonable hour of 2am and headed to bed, relishing the prospect of a much needed lie in the next day. As we later found out, it wasn’t the easiest of nights for Ella, who got into her room only to find that Australian Girl had decided to claim her bed as her own, having moved all of Ella’s stuff into a nice pile on the floor. Once they had got the hostel staff to turf the girl out of her stolen bed, she proceeded to complain that they had the light on whilst they were changing. Great gal.

We had a luxurious time the next morning, taking warm(ish) showers and ordering everything off the menu for breakfast and lunch. Cat has now got a certifiable crepe addiction, so we’ll have to continue to go back there. Daniel, Cat and Georgina splashed out on going to the parlour next door for massages, and Matt and I headed out to do some more shopping. We were very pleased with ourselves and were heading back to the hostel proudly carrying our new purchases when the monsoon reared its ugly head and made absolutely certain that we (and our new purchases) were drenched head to toe. It was so excessive that it was just comical, and we trudged up to the rooftop to be met with bemused looks at us dripping onto all the cushions (and at the huge grin on my face). It was the first time that we’ve properly been exposed to the rain, and it washilarious. Although it did mean I had to wear my pyjama top for the rest of the day.

We made it home in time for tea on Sunday, just in time to meet Mysterious Michael, the elusive third HVP Thali volunteer, who was just about to head off there with Ella and Ellen, having arrived just in time to make the last bus. Sunday also happened to be Krishna’s birthday, and therefore a day off school. We joined Chintamani and all the kids (and some other special guests) for some special Krishna-orientated chanting before dinner, and then later that evening we went to Patan Durbar Square, apparently the place to be on Krishna’s special day. We pushed our way through the thronging masses, heading in the general direction of where the greatest concentration of people seemed to be, not really sure what we were looking for. After doing that for about ten minutes, we ended up at the other side of the square, still none the wiser as to what was going on. After a brief discussion we decided to do what any sensible tourist would do in that situation: go to a nice rooftop restaurant and order momos. In fairness, there was quite a good view of the festivities from up there, though most of the group were too busy eating delicious pastries to notice. By the time the momos were consumed and the usual faffing surrounding the bill was over and done with, we were already cutting it fine to be back by half 8, our curfew. On the way back through the crowd we adopted more of an ‘every man for himself’ strategy than we had before, and just all regrouped on the other side of the square.

The walk home was slightly on the stressful side: there are almost literally no street lights on the way back from Patan to where we live, and Dan and I somehow managed to get separated from the rest of the group (we were way ahead but ended up arriving back after them), but we all made it in the end, only slightly after the deadline (which turned out to be arbitrary anyway).

It was definitely nice to have had a full weekend off after our first proper week, giving us time to chill out a bit and recharge for our first real week of teaching. Living in Nepal has been awesome so far, and something tells me that life is only going to get better.