24 January 2013

A Canadian Living in Kathmandu: A List

Here is a list I have composed of some random things I've learned about living in Kathmandu.

Now listen: I love this city, and I know that I have absolutely no right to complain about any Western conveniences that I might miss. As my new friend Claire Naylor puts it, "#firstworldthirdworldproblems applies to pretty much all conversations that we bideshis (white people) have about our lives in Nepal over our caramel lattes at Soma, organic cheese and bread at the 1905 farmer's market and Tamarind happy hours!" 

She is so, so right, and it is important to remember my immense privilege at all times. But... (and it's a big but) I can't deny that many things are different, many things are.... interesting and some things are damn challenging. As a serial observationalist (lookit me making up words!) I can't help but document them. This is likely to be part one of a series, so here it goes.

Things that I have learned as a Canadian living in Kathmandu:

  • There are no actual addresses on houses. For instance, my “address” is: Lazimpath. Schoolhouse Galli, the small lane on the left just past Sherpa restaurant, red gate on the left. 3rd floor. This means that I can't get mail delivered (which is ok, because by all accounts any packages will have been rifled through and stolen from), and I haven’t tried to order from Pizza Hut yet.
  • Vancouver party:
    “Oh. Hey. I know we’ve met 10 times, but let’s act vague and disinterested in each other.”
    “Yeah. That works for me. I guess.”
    Kathmandu party:
    “HI! HI HI HI! I just met you, but we seem to be within a decade of each others ages and both speak English! Want to hang out all the time?”
    “FUCK YES I DO.”
  • Expats who speak fluent Nepali and Nepalis who speak fluent English are regarded as demi gods who can help us mere ignorant mortals in countless ways.  LIKE HAVING THE GAS BOTTLES REFILLED (which power the heater and the hot water). Seriously. Can someone help me with this next week?
  • Everyone works for an INGO (International Non-Governmental Organization) or has started an INGO or has an idea to start an INGO. Seriously. I have like 3 ideas. And most of them won't actually improve anyone’s lives, cuz, like, that’s how things (don’t) work here.
  • If a group of expats are together for long enough, we will start talking about “The Earthquake.” At this point we usually drink more because that shit is terrifying.

  • Due to the fact that women need to be covered up, when I watch TV I get shocked when I see cleavage, thighs, knees, shoulders, collarbones or shins. I think to myself “good god, that woman needs to cover herse…. Oh wait a second. She’s not in Nepal.” Carry on.

    From Battigayo, a loadshedding app. This is when I have no power on Tuesdays.
  • I am strangely used to loadshedding, the scheduled rolling blackouts that are a result of the mismanagement of Nepal’s hydro resources, a country with the second largest water supply in the world. (THE FUCK, GUYS.) I light candles, make sure everything is charged and get out of the house during the 18 hours a day with no electricity. When I was in Bangkok recently I was always in a panic that the electricity was about to cut off, but then I would realize that I was in a real, functioning country with a real, functioning government.
  • There is technically no government or constitution right now. That’s right. Nothing works, and nothing can be fixed because there ain’t no government. *jazz hands*
  • I have a gas heater for my shower, so technically I can take a hot shower even during loadshedding, but if the water (which is stored on the roof) needs to be pumped, well, that takes electricity. I have been caught with shampoo in my hair twice when the water ran out. I’m not talking about hot water running out – I mean, there is no water at all. I had to use bottled water to rinse my hair.

  • The grocery stores are filled with off-brand Western products like mayo, peanut butter and ketchup, all manufactured by weird Indian companies with names like “American Garden.” I am pretty sure that no American had any input into the canned hotdogs I saw. CANNED. In some kind of preserving juice. *shudder*
  • Everyone’s furniture is made out of wicker. It’s like Three’s Company up in here.
  • Nepalis can mimic Western food extremely well – perfect pizzas, pulled pork, ribs, lasagna, cakes and coffees – this is the best Western food I have ever had in Asia. Hands down.
  • Star World, one of the only English channels I have on my satellite TV, plays: How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, Homeland, Melissa and Joey, Two and a Half Men and Rescue Me. On a loop. Literally. All day. AND I WATCH THEM ALL. *sobs in shame*

    That is all I have for now, but I am sure that I will have many more entries to add to this list as the days turn into weeks and months. If you have anything to add, leave a comment!



notyourrevolution said...

I was really hoping that the 'big but' link was going to take me to a Sir-Mix-A-Lot video and I was NOT disappointed.

V said...

I love this post! I find it so incredibly interesting what you are doing (and where!).

= Wally = said...
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= Wally = said...
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