Village Stay in Pharsidol (part 2)

My week long stay in the rural, Tamang village of Pharsidol was an absolutely fascinating and memorable experience. As mentioned in part 1 however, both to counteract the large food intake and of course most importantly to maximise learning of both language and culture, we kept ourselves busy outside class with a variety of activities;

#1 The first full day of our stay was a public holiday for the festival of Indra Jatra. The local schools and hospitals etc. were all closed but as this particular festival is not celebrated by the Tamang ethnic group we were staying with I was therefore able to spend the afternoon escorted by these three lovely young nieces from the village on their day off from school and college. The local bus was suffering some issues with the battle between transporting rooftop harvest loads vs. overhead power cables so despite the heat we walked up over the hill to Bungamati and enjoyed the views along the way. In Bungamati we visited various beautiful temples, ate different local snacks and the girls even had fun giving an impromptu photo shoot.What a start to the week!;

7 girls

#2 The view over Bungamati from a nearby hilltop (with the photo shoot inspiring tree.) Pharsidol lies behind the town over the rise, before the distant hills;

8

#3 Sarindra our host is a teacher in the local government run secondary school. On the Tuesday morning I joined him on his beautiful 10 minute walk commute across this pedestrian suspension bridge over the Bagmati river. Both male and female teachers at the government schools have a very distinct uniform both of which you can see here;

9b walk

#4 The first school picture below is the government run secondary school for students up to class 10 or the equivalent of GCSEs. As we arrive at around 10am the older students can be seen on the roof having their morning ‘lunch’ of daal bhaat. By this time they’ve already had several hours of classes so it is well deserved. The second school pictured below is the local primary school which I also visited briefly on my way back to class;

9 schools

#5 On the Tuesday morning I joined the top GCSE equivalent English class. I introduced myself and answered questions about Britain (as best I could).  The students also had fun trying to teach me some Nepali song lyrics and how to write in the Nepali script – sadly I think they failed on both accounts. My teacher genes must have shone through though as the staff asked me back Friday morning to actually teach an English class on practicing introductions and a social studies class on time zones and the international date line – both unaided!? Great fun though and great students. When encouraged to ask me some ‘interesting’ questions I received “had I ever been in love?” amongst others – well I did ask for it…;

10 classes v2

#6 Later in the week I was able to see more of the area and indulge my engineering side with a walk across the river and up the opposite hill to visit the Pharping Hydropower Station. This was the first ever hydropower station in Nepal and second overall in Asia. All parts, pumps and pipes were manufactured and supplied from Britain and the site was commissioned in 1911. Though the main machinery has been updated in the meantime the station still works today providing drinking water within the Lalitpur district. The original pipework still in working order can just be seen running up the hill to the reservoir. Not a bad spot for an engineering works;

11 IMGP2483 (2)

#7 Last but not least one evening we had the great privilege of joining the family in a traditional Tamang ceremony for good luck. Though our hosts were clear that this was not at all a common occurrence in modern day Nepal it was absolutely not for our benefit and therefore all the more fascinating to witness. A travelling priest conducted the atmospheric ceremony in the old bake house invoking many complicated mantras from memory and completing a series of activities lasting around an hour. Ultimately each family member added personal tributes to the main offering (the spikey basket at the back) which was released onto the holy Bagmati river to finalise the ritual and ensure good luck for the coming year;

12 ceremony

Sadly the visit could only last a week before it was time to head back to the noise and traffic filled chaos of the city. However, I hope to remain firm friends with my fabulous hosts and have even offered my services (such as they are!?) to help with the upcoming rice harvest so watch this space!

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3 comments

  1. Jess

    Fabulous! What other questions were asked by the students?! I am enjoying learning about Nepal and living vicariously through you.. X

  2. I wonder how the girls (and boys!) reacted when you told them you are an engineer!

  3. Gautam Buddha

    Thank You for visiting our beautiful country and sharing the expirience 🙂

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