Corn on the Cob

Jhabraj's nephew pops by for a chat

Jhabraj’s nephew, a farmer, pops by for a chat

Day 84 – Location: Karmidanda Village, Langtang Region; Nepal

24/11/12

It was Saturday and everyone was off work. I rose early after yet another restless sleep – I kept rolling onto my damaged shoulder in the night. In the morning I helped Januka and Jhabraj to strip the ears from a big pile of dried maize, and then we went through the arduous and slow task of breaking the corn off the cob. It was hard work working it off with bare hands (a twisting grasp was the most effective method) especially with the Australian variety corn which was rock solid and hard to budge. We had blistered and sore hands afterwards, but a few sacks full of corn. They mixed it with dry rice and millet seeds – then Jhabraj sacked it up and carried it a few houses along to the village mill, where it was ground into flour.  Jhabraj lugged this back in sacks. This flour they add to the water that their livestock drink. Jhabraj said the mixture contains carbohydrates, protein and vitamins, a real power feed. The flour they’d made today should last fourty days. Unfortunately due to the poor maize crop this year (they had six months without rain!), they wouldn’t have enough to last the whole year and would have to buy flour in later months.

Januka and Jhabraj break corn off the cobs whilst one of the goat kids causes havok as usual!

Januka and Jhabraj break corn off the cobs whilst one of the goat kids causes havok as usual!

Jhabraj served us a traditional Nepali dish of maize paste with curd, joined by spinach soup and egg. Then we relaxed for a while in the sun. I helped Januka and Awijit to chop a big pile of potatoes that they’d harvested recently. These were for planting and so we chopped them so that each segment of potato had a few potential shoots on it. After planting, each shoot can grow into a new potato plant – an easy self-sustaining crop. The Neupane family would be planting these again soon. The rest of the afternoon was leisurely; I read, chatted with Sophie and watched the goat kids at their amusing jumping antics. Sophie told me about a man she’d seen at the mill with a wrecked face, Jhabraj said he’d been attacked by a wild bear a few years ago whilst cutting grass nearby! He was lucky not to be killed.

Jeneet's grandmother and his sister

Jeneet’s grandmother and his sister

I watched Jhabraj chopping very dry firewood (collected from the woods) for the kitchen fire, splintering into dusty pieces. There was a nice sunset thanks to the cloudy sky. Down in the fields below the Neupane house, Awijit was teaching some new karate students, in the absence of his karate master. I watched them for a bit and played with Jeneet who for some reason was wearing his baby sister’s pink hat!

Awijit (in yellow) leads the karate training in harvested rice fields.

Awijit (in yellow) leads the karate training in harvested rice fields.

 

Jeneet loves his girl's hat!

Jeneet loves his girl’s hat!

Then I did some physiotherapy excecises for my shoulder, I am trying to build my shoulder strength up again. After dinner we chatted and Jhabraj had some news. He’d heard that in Kalikasthan (the town half an hour walk away) there’d been a fight in a pool house. One guy had been stabbed badly in the back and had been rushed down to hospital in Kathmandu. The attackers had gone into hiding. Under police law if they can’t be caught and charged after around 35 days then they are safe. Crazy! He also told us another baby had been born in the village today – the good and the bad in a day!

A cloudy sunset over Karmi Danda's fields.

A cloudy sunset over Karmidanda’s fields.

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Would you like to stay in Karmidanda village with the Neupane family? Read on…

My awesome host Jhabraj, a great man indeed!

My awesome host Jhabraj, a great man indeed!

If you are thinking of viisting Nepal and would like to do a homestay with Jhabraj’s family and see his village, or you need an experienced trekking or private tour guide, Jhabraj is very happy to accommodate you. He can do tours anywhere around Nepal and for trekking, he is very experienced and a safe, responsible guide, having guided on all the major Nepali treks multiple times as a guide (including the popular Everest, Annapurna and Langtang treks). It is also possible to do some spectacular trekking in the Langtang area from his village area so you could always combine a homestay with a trek. Jabraj charges very reasonable prices, he speaks good English, and you couldn’t meet a friendlier, more interesting and hospitable guy! Your enjoyment, satisfaction and safety are his primary concerns. Money that Jhabraj earns from visitors and clients goes towards the higher education of his children, which is extremely expensive for a village family. If you want to hear more, please contact me via this website and I will put you in touch with him. Highly recommended!

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Would you like to help Jabraj’s village community of Karmidanda? Read on…

Sophie on her first day of English volunteering

Sophie on her first day of English volunteering

Like many outlying villages in Nepal, the village Karmidanda is extremely poor and the community has many serious problems as a result. Almost all the families here are in a lot of debt, living on the breadline on the meagre earnings they can eke out – most are farmers. Other avenues of work are simply not available up here and most families cannot afford to put their children into higher education to improve the cycle. Public welfare does not really exist in Nepal and the area only has one health clinic staffed by volunteers and supplied by charity. If a villager requires hospitisation the villagers have to pool together to get enough money to pay for an ambulance to take the patient 5 hours to Kathmandu and also pay the expensive hospital treatment fees, if they can afford it. The village school was built thanks to charitable efforts but staff wages are low, equipment and resources are always scarce and there are not enough teachers for the number of students. These are just some of the problems that the community has – yet despite the difficulties the community spirit is amazing here, people help each other, they have a smile on their face and they are welcoming and friendly. If you think that you can help with donations, volunteering (incuding English teaching at the school) or charitable projects, please get in touch. Jhabraj has many contacts and can direct you to the right people so you know your money or resources are going directly to the local community and no share is going into anyone elses’ pocket. Some charitable efforts have also been started by foreign visitors who have visited Jhabraj and decided to help the community of Karmidanda – please check out the following websites: (links coming soon!)

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