Have you ever been so completely out of touch with the modern world that you have no internet, no phone, not even a lamp to read a book by? Just the light of the skinny winny candles that you can buy in the local shop to make your evening last a little longer than 7 'o clock. I'm sure you have. But for me, it was the first time that I was staying in a place so remote from everything.
I spent the last month in Udayapur, another Maya school in yet another district (they are spreading quite quickly-3 schools now), in a little village which -coincidentally- is also called Chisapani. The nearest town, Gaighat, is 4 hours down the hill by bus but in monsoon season you never know whether the bus will be running at all.
It was a wonderful welcome. After riding the bus up for some 5 hours (the last bus which went up all the way, lucky me-especially since I brought loads of school books) I got out at a Chisapani, and I discovered that nobody was there. It was almost nightfall. So I put down my bags and was just thinking where the school would be, when I heard my name being called 'Weike miss!'. From afar I see Buddhap and Ramesh running my way.
'Weike miss you are going to my house, ok?' Buddhap says, 'we have a party tonight!'. They showed me the house were I should put my stuff and off I went, into the darkening night with Buddhap and Ramesh on both my hands. After a few minutes we passed another village, and Roshani, Kamala and Regina (who turned out to be neighbors) come running out of their houses to give me a lot of big overwhelming and very happy hugs. As I'm trying to struggle myself loose from all the loving children, I see Rikke, Becky and Ashis Dai, the two volunteers and current 'boss' of this school, standing a bit further away.
Parties are there to be had, so a few minutes later all of us- the volunteers being led by the two children- set out for Buddhap's house. Which turned out to be two hours away, halfway down the mountain.
But enough about parties and meat, how was the school, you ask? Well, the problem I have right now, after one month of no internet and no electricity, how do I start? One month is a lot of time to tell in one blog post, and to be fair, a lot always happens in a month's time.
The school is wonderful. I was so happy to see these kids again, who I've lived with for two months in Tanahu, and they were (I hope, at least) also very happy to see me. But there is more. New admission 'happened' two months ago, so in addition to the 15 students that I already knew, there were some 30 more to get to know. And what students they are.
If I thought that Tanahu children were 'rough', Udayapur children are even more used to hard work, and they are probably ten times crazier too.
These kids really know how to make me smile. Imagine, I'm giving class, serious english class, and there's a slug sliming its way up the clay wall of the classroom. 'Look miss,' Nishan says,'I eat slug, ok?' and with one big gulp he swallows the slimy creature, after which he smiles at me broadly. 'Tasty?' I ask, and he nodds happily. 'Another one!' someone says, and as Nishan reaches for it to eat it I just manage to take it from his hand. 'No eating during class', I say.
Another class. French class to the A-class. I'm teaching them sentences that might be useful for them. 'Je peux boire quelque chose?' (can I drink something?), Je peux aller a la toilette (can I go to the toilet?) when Komala asks: ' Miss, how do you say 'can I spit' in French?'. I look it up in the dictionary. 'Je peux cracher', I say. 'Madame, je peux cracher?' she asks me. Smilingly I answer 'bien sur' and she goes outside to spit a nice flume on the pebble street. Then, excited by this new word, all the kids ask me the same question, and after class the street is covered with all different shades of spit. Lovely.
I love these kids, I love teaching, but I'm sure that if I only write about how wonderful teaching is you will not be reading this blog very much (neither would I) so I will see what else happened.
Thing is: There is no children boarding at this school, so after 4 o clock you're pretty much free to do anything you want. Anything. You can play chess. You can read a book. You can gather firewood. You can cut firewood. You can build something out of bamboo. You can write in your journal. You can drink roxy. You can cook dinner, or go to one of the canteens and have someone cook dinner for you. And, most of all, you can listen to the radio.
Ashis dai and his radio are inseparable. After being in this village for the past three months or so he developed a routine of waking up with the radio, and going to sleep with it (many a night I heard him say 'hajur, hajur', to whatever the newsreporter had to say). By now, I know all the songs and advertisements of Kantipur FM. 'Turn on your radio, turn on your radio, the sweet sounds you hear everywhere that you go, on your radioooo'.
Sometimes only books and radio wasn't enough and I would get a kick out of just leaving with some of the children after school and sleep at their houses. By now, I've slept at Buddhaps, Parbatis, Kamalas and Roshanis house, which is always absolutely wonderful and interesting, too. Parbati, for example, didn't even turn out to have a house at all when she invited me. Just a bamboo hut. I can sleep anywhere happily, bamboo hut or fancy hotel alike, but it just surprised me because Parbati is soo rich of mind, I expected her to be rich in means too. Me and my assumptions.
Anyway, time to go, I will write more about Udayapur when I go there again in a week, with my mom who arrived in Kathmandu two days ago. Hello mom:)