Having been born and lived in Nepal for 12 years until I moved to England (my father was a Gurkha), I was very intrigued when I got the chance to volunteer in Nepal with Raleigh. This gave me the perfect opportunity to help Nepal in any way I could, especially after the damage that the earthquake had caused the previous year. My worries were that being familiar with Nepal, I would not be able to experience a new culture, traditions, and the most important thing- (at least for me) the food.
Before coming to Nepal; with little information of where we will be based, I assumed we would be in an underdeveloped community with no electricity, and no toilets. I also expected the villagers to be very hidebound and unwelcoming. But I was proven wrong as soon as I arrived in Kiteni.
The locals here are mainly Tamangs and they welcomed us into their homes with open arms. The orthodox views that I expected the locals to have, turned out to be false, at least in Kiteni. The locals are very open minded, genuine, and warm hearted people. They are always willing and ready to explain anything that I am not familiar with. Also, apart from the two houses, all the remaining houses here in Kiteni have their own toilets. We also have electricity, and unlike the cities, we do not even get load shedding; which means we can boil the kettle for hot drinks and porridge almost whenever we want. However, the entire village did lose power for two days because of a fallen pylon. They are quite flimsy here, a single person could push them over.
During Tihar, I got the opportunity to make sel roti for the first time, which we regularly have during festivals back home. I also learned about the green Taparis (a plate made by weaving leaves with bamboo sticks) which, maybe because I grew up in the city whilst I was in Nepal; where we choose our convenience over traditions, or that these Taparis are non-existent in my Gurung culture, was my first time seeing them. I learned that these Taparis are made by the sisters and are used to serve food to their brothers in Bhai Tika, and are often used as substitutes for plates in festive celebrations. One host mother even taught me how to make them. I can tell you, it was not as easy as it looked when I was observing her, and those sticks prick your fingers constantly.
As I got used to living in Kiteni, I found that my worries about not experiencing a new culture were unnecessary. From their language, to how they celebrate their festivals, were all completely different to what I am familiar with. I was actually going through the same experience as all the other UK volunteers, but I had an upper hand with my ability to speak Nepali.
Volunteering here has given me a new perspective of Nepalese way of living. I am glad I came back to Nepal and learned about one of the many cultures and traditions that Nepal can offer. It is indeed true to say that, no matter which village Raleigh works in, here in Nepal, they are all likely to have different cultures, languages and traditions. Thereby meaning that, each November Charlie team will have their own unique and exhilarating experience.