My time in Melamchi has been a memorable one. My two weeks here have felt like a life time. I have my favourite shop owners, street food snacks and have made friends with local children.
My days off start with a trip to the local bakery hidden amongst the rubble. The young doughnut boy in the picture below asked me to take his photo. The red dot on his forehead signifies that he had recently been blessed as part of the celebrations taking place that day for the birthday of one of the many Hindu gods.
There are so many national holidays, celebrations and ceremonies in Nepal. One morning I witnessed a Nepalese cremation where by only the men attend. A local told me that women aren’t allowed because they get “too emotional”. The men dress in white and shave their heads leaving a small ponytail of hair. This signifies that someone close to them has died. If a man’s father dies, it’s common for him to remain dressed white for a year after the death.
Choice of food here is limited. Apart from Daal Baht and Chow Mein you won’t really see much else. Did you know that Nepal is one of the only 16 countries in the entire world which doesn’t have a McDonalds? I believe this is due to the poor infrastructure making transportation a nightmare.
All Hands Volunteers have been in the town for a few months now so many of the locals guess that I am a volunteer and approach me to say hi and to practice their English with me.
I did wonder why people here always ask me why I’m not married once they hear I’m 27. I recently found out that once a woman reaches 27 she is too old to get married in Nepal. Not that I would like a Nepalese wedding mind, the one near our base has been going on for four days now. There’s only so many days of loud music playing from 5am until 10pm I can handle before it affects my sanity – like now.
I visited the local orphanage and gave the kids some of my popping candy which I always travel with for others to try – it’s great fun! I found these children much more hesitant than others across the world, maybe because they live in an orphanage and may have been taught to be cautious. We collected over $65 in donations from generous volunteers which we used to buy lentils and rice for the children.
Life is incredibly simple up here in the Himalayan hills where the majority of people don’t even have proper homes, yet somehow all manage to keep a smile on their face.
This young girl followed me on my walk for a good half a mile. Each time I stopped she would too. Despite her shy character, we ended up speaking a little and drawing pictures with the chalk I gave her.
When I was out walking I stopped for a cold drink. The young girl serving me told me that the Nepalese necklace I was wearing was actually a hair piece and asked if she could show me how it is worn. We ended up spending a good hour together eating spicy snacks while she did my hair and painted my nails. It was great to feel like a girl again!
Life in Melamchi is difficult but for me, far more interesting than the more modern way of life seen in Kathmandu, for example. The food up here is much spicier, the tea more flavoursome and the people a little friendlier. I highly recommend catching the four hour bus to Melamchi from Kathmandu if you want to experience a side of Nepal far different from the busy streets of Kathmandu. I leave with fantastic lifelong memories of Melamchi.