Village Stay in Pharsidol (part 1)

Just over 5 weeks into being in Nepal, and 4 weeks into the language training course, it was time to step things up to next level by means of an intense language focussed, rural village stay. Therefore from September 7th for just under 1 week my fellow VSO volunteer Liz and I had the joy of disappearing off the radar and staying with a local family in a village called Pharsidol. The ethnically Tamang village, in the village development committee (VDC) of Bungamati in the district of Lalitpur (where I will be living and working) lies a mere 9km from the main city ring road. However, past the main town of Bungamati the road turns to a bumpy dirt track, with only one bus per hour in and out during the daytime and blissfully little other traffic. 3km further down the track we step off onto the pedestrian only (plus occasional brave/kamikaze motorcyclist) old paved paths and sunken byways head up to the village of Pharsidol and into a completely different world…

#1 The view over the village, Bagmati river valley and distant hills from the balcony of our host house. Suku and Sarindra were our fabulous hosts and they and their extended family made us feel extremely welcome throughout the week. Their house was perched at the very top of the village. Directions; up the monsoon-slicked cobbled path, turn right just before the grand tree planted by our host’s grandfather – now the site of the village temple and the start of the forest…

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#2 Here are some samples of the beautiful, traditional houses that made up the village. During the stay we had the privilege of being invited into several homes to take a sociable cup of tea or sometimes be offered the evening meal of daal bhaat. Many of the families in the village were also relations of our hosts so many of the younger family members were drafted into show us around and keep us informed (more in part 2).  Many families raise cows and goats plus dogs and chickens commonly wander around the village adding to the cacophony. During our stay even a leopard was spotted in the village and one special, large chicken intended for an upcoming festival narrowly escaped being whisked away by a wild cat – it’s never dull in the village!?;

3 houses

#3 We continued to have our 3 hour intense, individual Nepali classes each day though now taking place in the family’s living room. We then had the added benefit of spending the rest of the morning/afternoon/evening listening to and attempting to speak Nepali with the expended family. Though intense and exhausting, the result was a pleasing acceleration of confidence in conversing in Nepali and to a lesser extent hopefully also actual ability!? Plus I certainly found being able to do my homework with this view was a great pleasure;

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#4 For me even the view from the bathroom was also spectacular – looking up through the banana plants to the forest behind the house. At night time the only sound to be heard was the whirring of insects. A very welcome peaceful alternative to the constant background noise of the city;

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#5 Most of the families in the village and other local communities in the area, are traditional farmers – almost entirely self-sufficient. This means there is always a great deal of physical labour to be carried out. Planting, nurturing, harvesting, separating, preparing and storing activities are going on all year round for a wide array of crops, vegetables and fruits. Not to mention the then complicated and lengthy preparation required to finally cook the daily servings of daal bhaat and other food for extended family groups on a regular basis. Liz and I tried repeatedly to be allowed to help out. One evening I observed the entire 3 1/2 hour process of the evening meal preparation and supported with my only applicable skill – potatoe peeling!? Interestingly, the 3 1/2 hour cooking lesson was carried out by our host’s 21 year old son – a refreshing real-life example of equality in the fascinating Tamang culture;

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#6 Though our hosts had a fully functional gas powered kitchen on the top level of the house, some dishes were apparently still best prepared in the traditional ceramic, wood fired stove housed next door. One morning I had the joy of watching the process of cooking on this stove to turn maize flour (already planted, grown, harvested, carried, dried, milled and stored entirely by the family) and water into a tasty, thick dough called dhedo to be eaten with vegetables and curry;

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Generally every day we had a cup of tea and a boiled egg at 7am. Then between 9-9:30am was the biggest meal of the day – daal bhaat with vegetables, pickle and more. Somewhere around 2-4pm there was a serving of khaajaa or ‘snacks’ (which actually in reality means another fully cooked meal but just not including daal bhaat). Then last but not least around 8pm would be the evening serving of daal bhaat with a different assortment of vegetables and pickle and often tender chicken as well. Close to 100% made from home grown ingredients it was all incredibly tasty and hunger was definitely, firmly kept as bay the entire week long!

To counterattack this sizable intake of food we had to keep ourselves busy so more on some of our activities in part 2…

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3 comments

  1. Jess

    …sounds fabulous! Can’t wait for part two!

  2. Surendra Lama

    It is true and really part one. I want to know about part two soon.
    Best regards
    S.Lama

  3. Thanks Surendra-Ji – hit the ‘next’ button to the left side of the title and this will lead you straight on to part 2… I hope you like that part as well and I look forward to seeing you all again soon! Jessica

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