Day 93 – Location: Karmidanda Village, Langtang Region; Nepal
I managed to get some much-needed sleep despite the grumbling tummy. Downstairs Jhabraj was shelling rice. Because a baby had been born the other week, they’d had to delay a festival ceremony for the occasion until today. He made a mixture of rice, millet and some other stuff to feed the goats, even the animals get to celebrate! The family had also mixed up a milky concoction for us containing milk, grated coconut, bananas, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. I managed to eat a little bit of plain rice with salt, my first food for a day, and tried a bit of Sophie’s milk mix – it was quite good though a bit too peppery for my tastes.
Jhabraj was off in the morning to visit Januka’s father about 40 minutes away who was very ill. He’d caught Typhoid and another condition. Although he had the right medicines he was very weak and hadn’t eaten for a week.
Feeling a little more human today, but still suffering from dioreaah and a midly churny stomach, I did some chores and managed a bowl of noodles. In the afternoon me and Sophie went up the hill to a nice spot in the sun with a good view, and relaxed up there in the peace and quiet. In the evening Jhabraj returned. He thought Januka’s father would be ok but he was still very weak. I wasn’t feeling too bad now. Just before we went to bed, the drunken teacher appeared again in his usual state!
Another very cold night. Januka had left to Kathmandu to visit her daughters. I was feeling stronger but not 100% and managed some curry. When the others left for school I was in the company of Ama, Jhabraj’s. Unfortunately she doesn’t speak a word of English and speaks to you like you should understand what she’s saying, without using any sign language. This makes communication with her pretty much impossible!
I worked on my diary and helped with some house chores. Ama surprised me by appearing with a big pile of fresh cow poo in her hands and dropped it on the yard! Then she brought a bowl and a bucket of water with a cloth. I then understood what she was up to. She was adding a new layer of dung onto the yard floor, as it was getting patchy. When it’s dry you can’t even tell it’s poo, being light grey and dusty. All traditional Nepali houses use this method for painting their floors and walls. She set to work with a bowl of water and poo, smearing it over the yard floor. I swept ahead of her to get rubbish out of the way. It smelt pretty bad, but to her I guess it’s just another chore that she’s done her whole life. She didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Half-way through an old man, blind in one eye, came round and chatted to her, and tried to speak to me. Of course I couldn’t understand a word he said so could only nod, shrug and smile at him. It’s a bit awkward when you’re being spoken to by people that you simply can’t understand. All you can do is react with exaggerated confusion, laugh or smile but who knows what they’re saying to you? For all I knew they could be telling you a heart-wrenching story, or maybe just giving you a good telling off!
Sophie arrived to give me a welcome respite from Ama’s one-sided chats. The flies were driving us crazy today, swarming loud enough to hear. I carried on updating the diary. We chilled the rest of the afternoon. In the evening Jhabraj got some bad news. Januka had been to the dentist in Kathmandu about her toothache, and they said she had to get half of her teeth removed as they were rotten! Although she brushes every day, it’s a genetic disease which her father also had. And it would cost a lot, another blow to the family’s finances.
05/12/12 > 9/12/12
I spent the next four days relaxing and recovering from the stomach bug. Ama continued to chat to me whilst I was home alone, and I spent a good deal of my time watching Dexter and playing games on my laptop. When the others were around we’d chat or I’d go for walks with Sophie. The nights continued to be bitterly cold. With all of his family’s financial problems, Jhabraj decided to sell one of the milking cows and its calf. He found a buyer when he visited the local town. On the day he sold it, a bunch of his friends came round with the buyer to help move the animals. The cow and calf were not happy to be moved but were led and dragged along the path towards the buyer’s village. For the calf it was the first time it had left the house so it was understandably nervous! Jhabraj was feeling a bit down afterwards, after all, the cows are almost like family to him; he looks after them and they provide for him. His new plan was to to save up enough to buy a more expensive cow from Indian bull sperm, which would produce over double the amount of milk his old cow made per day. With only one cow remaining the days of limitless curd and milk every day were over, to Sophie’s dismay!
Sophie had finished her term at school, with the kids going into exams. She admitted she’d grown fond of them, even the troublemakers. Jhabraj agreed that the school in general has problems with discipline and non-attendance; Sophie had been facing the same challenge as the other teachers. She’d been partly successful in getting their attention; English children’s songs were a favourite of the younger class. A girl had vanished from Sophie’s class – it turned out she’d been pulled out for another arranged marriage. Apparently she was quite intelligent but there is nothing the teachers can do to stop it.
Awijit and his teammates were entered in a karate contest in the nearby town to earn their next belt grade. He did pretty well and earned it by drawing in a fight – all that training paid off.
Would you like to stay in Karmidanda village with the Neupane family? Read on…
If you are thinking of visiting 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. Jhabraj 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!
Would you like to help Jhabraj’s village community of Karmidanda? Read on…
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 (including 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!)