drama, drama, drama

Since public schools resume normal classes on sunday, friday is the last day that I will have with the drama kids of Ganganagar. To make this day more special, we will peform a short play. We have worked hard and have practiced every day, played many games and learnt text by heart to show the parents, uncles, sisters, brothers, aunts, grandparents and neighbors what can be done!

Friday at 7:30 the show will start. The language of the cows will be explained and taught to the audience by 15 young actors and actresses.

And then it is the end of the drama club.

It was great fun, and I hope the kids had as much fun as I did. I look forward to friday with nervousness, happiness, but also sadness, since the time will be finished.

Elefanten!

So. Jetzt war ich wieder mal beim Rapti River. Am gleichen Ort wo ich vor einiger Zeit einen Elefanten gesichtet habe. Also gibts ein Elefantenupdate von mir.

  • Zahl der bis jetzt gesehenen Elefanten: 4
  • Zahl der bis jetzt angefassten Elefanten: 1
  • Zahl der bis jetzt fotografierten Elefanten: 4
  • Zahl der bis jetzt gerittenen Elefanten: 0

Ruth (die neu angekommene Volontaerin) und ich haben vorgestern einen Spaziergang zum Rapti River gemacht. Als wir angekommen waren habe ich ihr noch erzaehlt, wie ich vor einigen Tagen hier einen Elefanten gesehen habe. Im gleichen Moment sehen wir wie sich ein berittener Elefant aus dem Fluss bewegt. Also wir naeher kamen und den kleinen Huegel ueberblicken konnten sahen wir wie eine kleine Touristengruppe 3 Elefanten badete. Zuerst wollten wir nicht naeher hin, doch als die Safarileiter uns herbei winkten beschlossen wir uns den majestaetischen Tieren zu naehern. Waschen durften wir die Elefanten nicht, aber anfassen, fotogafieren, beobachten und bestaunen schon.

WAHNSINN!

Diese Tiere sind so gross, und so dickhaeutig. Die tiefschwarzen Augen scheinen fuer den Kopf zu klein zu sein, doch trotzdem geben sie den Tieren eine extreme Waise ausstrahlung.

Echt spektakulaer!

Nepali Time

It’s amazing how time seems to just flow differently here.

Not only have Nepal one of the strangest time zones (15 min. difference to India), but it also has it’s own calendar. Obviously it follows the Hindu and Buddhist festival calendars, which are based on the moon. But it also split up the months differently. The new month starts around two weeks into the western months. So August just started, but it is the 22 Shrawan here.

To top all of this off, time calculation is also different. It is not the year 2013 here. It is 2070. Yea. 2070 years ago, the King decided Nepal should start counting the years. Starting at one.

The day starts early and ends early. And with early I mean 4 or 5 am until 8 or 9 pm. Food is served before noon, at around 9 to 11 o’clock and at around 7 o’clock in the evening.

starnge, strange things. It’s just one more of those things I do not fully understand in this country 🙂 which in turn make it even more interesting

Elefanten?

Da die privatschule wieder angefangen hat hat sich auch mein Stundenplan etwas veraendert. Die Kinder, die von 12 bis 1 normalerweise Unterricht hatten gehen jetzt wieder in die Schule. Das heisst, ich hab jetzt eine laengere Mittagspause. Gestern beschloss ich also mir das Fahrrad zu schnappen und zum Rapti River zu fahren. Zuerst fand ich ihn nicht…drehte eine kleine Runde und fand ihn dann aber doch.

Der Rapti River bildet die Grenze zwischen Pufferzone und dem Royal Chitwan National Park. Also bildet sein Ufer das zu Hause vieler Tiere (Als ich mit Aayus und Aayusha im Community Forest war erhaschten wir sogar einen Blick auf ein Krokodil!).

Also spaqiere ich ein wenig herum. Da entdeckte ich doch echt Elefantenspuren (oder habe ich mir das nur eingebildet?) Nein, echt! Da liegt auch Elefantenkod herum! Das ist definitiv KEINE Kuh kake!

Als ich mich dafuer entschieden hab wieder zurueck zu fahren hoerte ich das knacken von Aesten. Zuerst dachte ich, dass das nur eine Frau war, die das Gras, oder ein paar Aeste von einem Baum schnitt. Aber NEIN!

Es war ein Elefant! Ein echter, lebender, (trainierter) indischer Elefant!

Nachdem ich viele Fotos und ein kurzes Video geschossen hatte und dem Elefanten eine weile zugesehen hatte entdeckte ich, dass das ein Elefanten trainig center, oder eine Elefantenzucht oder irgend so was sein musste. Also schwang ich mich auf meinen Sattel und fuhr los in Richtung Elefantengehege. Nach wenigen Minuten erreichte ich das Narayani Safari center. Das Tor war zu…aber ich beschloss in dem Moment wieder zurueck zu kommen. Vielleicht erhasche ich dann ja noch einen Blick auf einen Elefanten? oder auf zwei? Vielleicht sogar ein Baby? Mal sehen…

Tanzen verbindet

Als Kind habe ich gerne getanzt. Als teenager hat das dann aufgehoert…Mit meinem Studium hab ich das Tanzen wieder fuer mich entdeckt. Doch es ist selten, und mir noch nie passiert, dass man in Europa Tanz so erlebt wie hier.

Eine endlose Schleife von Liedern kommt aus den Muendern der Maedchen im Ganganagar Learning Center. 30 min. lang, 40 min. lang. Die Lieder hoeren nie auf. Sitzend und klatschend singen sie ihre lustigen Tanzlieder waehrend eine Freiwillige und ich, mehr oder weniger freiwillig, tanzen.

Ich probiers wenigstens. Gut bin ich auf keinen Fall…aber lustig ists. Fuer mich ist das beim Tanzen auch das wichtigste. Das es Spass macht!

Beim Tanzen braucht man keine Worte, man kommuniziert mit dem Koerper. Die Sprachbarriere ist sofort durchbrochen und der Spass, die Witze, koennen beginnen.

Es ist lustig, es ist eine sportliche Betaetigung, und es verbindet. Das Tanzen in Nepal ist ganz anders als alles was ich bisher erlebt habe. Es ist viel ungezwungener.

Feet.

I no longer wonder or question why Hindus believe that feet are the dirtiest parts of our bodies.

What I do wonder about, and I wonder and question this A LOT, is how on earth Nepali people always have clean feet. When I walk along the muddy roads after the monsoon came down my feet, and trousers, are covered in mud. it is quite embarrassing. Especially if someone talks to you and they have their beautiful, clean feet in their flip flops and you have your muddy, white toes in your muddy pink flip flops.

So what I did to try to improve my state was the following:
‘Shreeram, I have a really, really big question to ask you.’
‘okay, wait. Let me sit down for this.’
‘How do Nepali people keep their feet so clean!? I don’t understand. I feel so embarrassed. How does it work?! My feet are muddy when I walk through the mud. But all Nepali people have such clean feet!’
All Shreeram could do at first was laugh. Then he continued to explain how not to get my pants so muddy, and that even Nepali people sometimes have muddy feet.

I will try the bike tomorrow. Maybe that will keep my feet, and my conscience, clean. We’ll see.

I love what I do.

Yesterday was my first official and full day of classes.

05:45 wake up
06:15 chiya
06:45 leave house
07:00 nursery-grade 4 ESL
08:00 grade 5 – grade 7 ESL
09:45 Daalbhat
12:00 grade 3 – grade 5 ESL
14:00 – 16:00 theatre club
17:00 grade 8 – grade 10 ESL

This means that my days are very tiering…BUT, and there’s a big BUT, they are so worth all the effort in planning, walking there and energy I use during my lessons.

My day starts with the beautiful walk to Ganganagar, where tiny frogs, colourful butterflies and zooming dragonflies are my companions. Where the grasshoppers happily jump from stone to stone, and where the luscious greens of the rice paddies show me the way to the learning centre.

At this time of day the sun is already up, yet not high enough for it to be extremely hot. At this point in time, the temperate temperatures makes for a beautiful, soothing walk along the dirt road.

Once I get close to town, the children, women, and men greet me warmly with their smiley Namaste’s and as I reach the learning centre I am greeted by a horde of 5 to 10 year olds with bright hello’s. The games that follow seem to be thoroughly enjoyed by the kids for an hour. Now come the older kids. Different children, different games, different topics, but the same enthusiasm. These hours really are enjoyable.Up until now I have been staying until 9:30 instead of 9:00 because the kids want to play the games again and again (Which should be a good sign, no?)

We say our goodbyes and i walk back towards Dhenauji.

So what happened today was that a woman, who was riding her bike to, probably her home, stopped in the middle of the road, said ‘hello, what is your name?’ ‘Angelika’. *smile* ‘Ek chin’ wait, a minute. So I wait as she parks her bicycle under a roof and comes back to me. She walks BACK to where I am going, and where she came from, just to find out what I was doing and how long I would be here and if I liked Nepal.

This is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Nepal.

Back at home I rest for something like 20 minutes before my Nepali teacher randomly showed up. It was so nice of him! At the end of my last lesson with him he had announced his ‘coming to check on me and my Nepali skills’ after a while. So today was that day. He didn’t really ‘check’ on my language skills. He just wanted to know how I was doing, and if I was enjoying myself and if I remembered anything, and to invite me for chiya at his house. Just like that. Because he liked me. Yea Nepal. 🙂 And it wasn’t one of those ‘if you’re ever in the neighborhood, you can drop by’ kind of invitations either, it was a sincere, honest ‘i will be upset if you don’t come!’ kind of invitation. He gave me a map and everything. So I guess I will have chiya with this lovely man and his wife.

I prepared the lessons for tomorrow and then it was time for my 12 o’clock lesson with the kids of Dhenauji. I thought it would be GREAT to add a couple pages made by the kids to a picture book…but I don’t know if they enjoyed it…to compensate for my misjudged ‘fun’ activity, we played some of the games they wanted to play from yesterday’s lesson.

Drama club was GREAT today. Somehow, there were more kids present than there were on my list (this is also a good sign, no?) and we danced and shouted, and whispered, and laughed, and cried, and ran around, and were confused, and didn’t understand each other, but actually did understand each other and we went through an entire roller-coaster of emotions…since the topic of today was, well, emotions. I really enjoyed it. And on my walk back I couldn’t stop smiling. Even after I reached my room, I couldn’t stop smiling. Have you ever tried drinking water while smiling? Yea..it’s kind of hard. 🙂
One hour later, the girls show up. Oh, what a fun 1.5h. These girls seem to always be up for a laugh. We already have some nicknames for each other…namely rhino, dinosaur and monkey (not everyone has one yet!). Although these have less to do with our looks, and more to do with what we would take with us on a trip (yes..this is from a learning game…).

I could keep writing for hours…I could keep talking about how much teaching really is the right job for me, and that although I sometimes, rather often, have said: ‘bleh! I’m sick of this! I want to do something else! I don’t want to teach! I don’t want to be a teacher for the rest of my life!’, I think, at least for now, it really is the right thing for me. It is the only thing that I do that gives me more energy than it takes away. I am so much more alert, mentally present, and awake after my lessons than I am before. At night however, it’s a different story. I fall into bed at around 9 o’clock and I fall asleep almost immediately.

So, I will stop boring you on this topic. All in all, I’m glad I’m a teacher.

Devghat, or the most peaceful place on earth.

The monsoon brings rain. Lots of it. Ususally it is in the afternoon, but not always. So of course, the day I decide to go sight seeing to Devghat, it has to rain all day. But! That did not stop me.

So after my mandatory chiya in the morning, I start my walk to Pakaudi from where a bus will take me to Narayanghad (Chitwan district’s second largest city). It will be from there that I can walk to Devghat (or that was my plan anyway).

So I get on the bus and sit down. many pot holes, a flat tire and the bus driving soaring 20 km/h it finally stops for the first time to let a lot of people off. I ask the friendly man sitting next to me if this was Narayanghad. With a smile, he shakes his head. We have a short conversation where one didn’t understand the other, but somehow kept it going for a while, actually making some sense.

I guess my Nepali language classes did help me after all!

So after my asking this man around 10 times if we had reached Narayanghad, and him finally laughing at me a little bit at my stubbornness of wanting to be in Narayanghad we do actually eventually stop in the big city. This time though, I do not bother to ask if we are here. I just look at him and he nods, smiles and motions me to get off. A friendly ‘bye! Have a nice day!’ and a wave later I’m off the bus, not knowing where to go next.

Shreeram drew me a map, but that hadn’t prepared me for this! A huge road, with many intersections. I knew I had to turn right at one of those…but which one?

So I just started walking. The rain started to pour down again and I shortly thought of buying an umbrella, but shook the thought from my mind immediately, thinking ‘i’m already wet…he umbrella wont help me anymore’. So I trek on. Asing at every intersection where Devghat would be simply by motioning in the direction I was going and asking: ‘Devghat?’

My Nepali teacher would not be proud of me…I should have just said: Devghat kahaane cha?’ but I didn’t.

Eventually I got to an intersection that was filled with busses, taxis, rikschas and people. I decided that I would have to turn right. Just to make sure, I asked another person. So I crossed the road and continued to walk on the sidewalk of the smaller road that was perpendicular to the large main road.

Shortly, I was amazed that this city had actual roads…bigger roads and more organized roads than Kathmandu.

I continued to walk until I came to a spliting of the road, so I asked again and was motioned in the right direction. I got to the Pokhara bus park and decided to ask a man who was standing outside a hotel where I would have to go to walk the 6 km to Devghat. I should mention that it was still raining. So the man looked at me, said: ‘it’s 6 k’. I could tell that he wasn’t convinced that I should walk just from his face. So I smile, and then a little sadly respond: ‘okay. which bus is it then?’

Instead of answering he asks me where I am from. ‘Austria’. To my surprise he knows exactly what I’m talking about. Usually people respond with ‘Australia?’ to which I then have to say: ‘no. Austria’ often they smile and nod, but don’t seem to understand the difference. This man however, was different. To my even bigger surprise, he started to talk to me in GERMAN. I found out he had lived in Germany for 14 years and that he liked it there and that he knew where Austria was and to go to the big tree and ask again about the bus there.

So I go to the big tree and ask ‘bus devghat?’ smiles and nods and motions to the right. I go there, to ask yet another person. This time in better Nepali: ‘Devghat bus?’ points. ‘Kati samaya cha?’ ‘tin minet’. So I had learnt that the bus would come to where he pointed in around thirty minutes.

I go back to the roofed waiting area to protect myself from the water that is still being thrown out of the sky in buckets, have a sip of water, and realize I really needed a bathroom. So I made a plan to wait to get to Devghat, find a restaurant (becuase I am SURE there will be a couple…it’s a holy sight afterall) go to the bathroom, maybe eat something and then continue the sight seeing.

Short intermission: there were no restaurants. But a surprisingly clean public toilet! YES. THANK GOD.

The bus ride was rather unspectacular, except for the fact that I DROVE THROUGH A JUNGLE! WHICH IS CONSIDERED TOTALLY NORMAL HERE!

I get off, cross the amazingly scary bridge just as it stopped to rain. The fog was rising from the two meeting rivers and I could see tips of temples inbetween the trees on the other side of the bridge. It really seemed like I entered a different world as I crossed the bridge. It became so much more quiet, peaceful and…dare I say, holy?

To my surprise, there weren’t really any ‘restaurants’ that looked like they had toilets…so I repressed my need and walked around a bit. I got told I was going the wrong way and had to go left to get to the temples. So I did. I walked through the small path that lead around little shops, houses and smaller temples until I reached a tourist friendly sign that said: ‘temple area 2 mins. ahead’. puh. I guess I WAS going the right way ^^

As I climbed the steps I saw a holy man walk next to me, dressed in his orange wrap skirt, with his one dread hanging out of his turban-like head covering, carrying a trident and a metal bucket. ‘Namaskar’ He smiled and responded ‘Namaste’.

The ticket counter was empty. So I waited for a minute until the holy man from before reached me. In almost perfect english he simply said: ‘come in!’ ‘Is i okay?’ ‘yes. please. come in!’ So I entered. walked to the temple, met some children, walked past the temple, turned around, walked back. turned towards the river walked on the smaller path and around in circles. Then I wanted to see the river again and found a roofed area where the holy man was sitting. ‘come in! come in’ so I entered. ‘please, sit’, so I sat down. I continued to have a talk with the holy man about me, and Nepal and whether or not I had seen the temples yet. It was quite amazing. Soon two other men came and I learnt that one of them operated the ticket counter. I laughed a little, took some pictures and left again. After walking around the area for another couple of minutes I leave, go to the ticket counter and ask the man (who was now sitting there) whether I had to pay. with a smile he said no, and waved me on. I guess he liked me, because just before, two other tourists had to pay.

I continue to walk around Devghat, through the village, out of the village on dirt road paths. It was so quiet. All you could hear were the voices of the prayers coming from the temples if you got close enough to them.

AMAZING

On my way back to the bridge I hear a ‘hello! come here’ So I turn around look and see a group of men and women standing in a shop, so I say hello and they ask me to come again. ‘Would you like some tee?’ as politely as possible, I refuse, but sit down. For a couple of minutes I have a chat with these people, who spoke english surprisingly well and learnt a lot about Devghat and its people. After promising to have tea with them if I came to Devghat again I finally did get up and left. After a short walk I crossed the bridge back into the normal world where loud cars and busses journey along. where people talk loudly and children run around. None of which happened in Devghat.

Devghat, the most peaceful place on earth. Or at least hte most peaceful place I have been to.

This place is so peaceful, that even the butterflies forget to be afraid of humans. While talking to the group of people in the shop a butterfly landed on my arm and leg just to have a seat. I didn’t move much, but talked. And it simply landed there to rest for a while. I think a place is truly peaceful, when even a butterfly forgets that man is his worst enemy. It is beautiful.

The new month and Mehendi

The calendar in Nepal is different. Having said that, the new month started yesterday.

To celebrate this month (i cannot remember the name…sorry) all women wear green bangles. Either on one, or on both wrists. Currently, I am wearing 6. Putting them on is a skill that I do not have. So the salesman had to put the bracelets on for me 😛 The thing that was most interesting to me was the way the man chose which bracelet to give to whom. He would measure the size of your hand when it is squished together to ensure the size that would fit over it.

On top of the bracelet We also put Mehendi on our hands. Before coming to Nepal I knew this form of art as Henna..but in Nepal it’s called Mehendi. So I shall now call it Mehendi. 🙂

Ayusha did the mehendi for me on my left hand (so I could eat with my right…). We left it to dry for many hours (we got it done in the early afternoon, and kept it on there until the sun began to set). So that’s a long time. To ensure that it would be dark, we put lime juice on the almost dry Mehendi…which made us have to wait for it all to dry again before washing off the paint.

It was a great experience!

Rice/Bhaat/Reis

I think Nepal is the country of rice. They eat it twice a day. They grow it everywhere and basically every farmer has at least one rice field.

July is the time of the year where the rice gets planted, and since I am currently staying in a village in Nepal, I get to witness this process every day.

Only witnessing however, is quite boring. Seeing the men break the mud up with their ox-driven carts and watching the women bend over standing ankle-deep in the mud to place the little green grass-like rice plants in the watery mud is only interesting for so long. So what does an interested volunteer do? That’s right. They plant rice.

So I rolled up my pants and stepped into the mud. the watery soil squishing through my feet, the water sloshing along my calves occasionally sending sprays of mud-water onto my black cotton pants. At first I stood there watching Aayusha give water to the women, but then I joined in. After all, it doesn’t look that hard.

Hahaha.

So in the time that every woman on the field placed something like 10 little bushels within the mud, I was able to tear one plant apart from the bushel in my hand and place it in the field. I think I was disturbing the women more than I was helping. After only a couple of minutes, and a handful of rice planted later Ayusha motions me to go back home. Obviously I was not very good at rice planting.

I guess I wont become a rice farmer. I think I’ll live.

Having said that, it was actually really quite cool (to be doing that for a couple minutes). However, I do not understand how these woman can stand in the fields all day. The sun burning down, the only cool part of the body being the feet, and maybe the right hand from placing the rice in the mud. I was sweating after only such a short time. The women had been working since day break. It’ actually quite amazing.

I will definitely keep watching these completely covered up women do their work. with their colourful scarves draped around their faces so only their eyes peek out to protect their head, face and neck from the burning Terai sun. Wearing their long sleeved button-down shirts over their traditional shirts and pants to protect their arms.

It really is quite a sight.