Nepal Travelogue: GMC Study Abroad – Ethnographic Blog Series pt. 5

By: Seraphina Mallon-Breiman

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Sitting astounded by our surroundings: “If you look to one side, there lies a scenic valley with waterfalls and rivers running through. To another side, 22,000-foot mountains, snowy-peaked and glowing pink in the setting sunlight. And between it all, miles of terraced slopes built for high elevation farming/gardening for rice and wheat crops. It’s difficult not to be amazed every time you look around.” However, acknowledging my fellow classmates in this setting was almost equally as remarkable. One could visibly witness the academic and social anxiety dissipate within our group, replaced by the awe-inspiring world around us. I longed to be able to speak the Nepalese language and to live in one of the villages we’d pass for months, as opposed to days.

Mountain village interaction: “Bella and I went wandering into town after tea and cookies and began watching a little girl and her older sister play with each other, surrounded by their cat and farm. The little girl’s name, Monisa, was jumping rope. We both smiled at each other for a very long time, then I counted for her as she jumped. She got to twenty-three before putting the rope down, smiling and calling to her sister, who was a few years older.

Bella and I introduced ourselves and began to chat with her sister, who was eager to use the English words she knew. She seemed to like that we were the same age. We exchanged names, ages and birthplaces. Monisa kept jumping, Bella and I kept smiling; watching a life that was beautifully simple.

Monisa asked us if we had chocolate, what felt like a sweet request from an eight-year old. Neither of us did, but we had time before dinner so we hiked to the other side of the village where there was a German bakery and a street stand selling snickers bars. We bought two and brought them back to the two sisters, whose eyes widened accepting so gratefully.”

Only later, while reading a book Miles had on Nepali culture, did we read that native peoples often ask tourists for candy and that this is highly discouraged, consider there is not access to good dental care and that in fact this is a harmful act for any tourist to complete. And just so, it seemed that the further out the village was that we visited, the quality of people’s teeth became worse and worse, somewhat changing the sound of their speech. Therefore, mountain village dialect sounded slightly different, almost scratchier.


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