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Trek View on Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester with Where There Be Dragons

Down the Rabbit Hole

In the past 72 hours I’ve danced to a Nepali pop song on stage in front of a group of people that were once strangers. I gathered around a pot of embers with my ama (mother) and dai (older brother) grilling chicken. I received blessings and tikka on my forehead once when leaving the village of Bhalamchour and then again when arriving to my new host family in Kathmandu. I exchanged a quiet life in the mountains for the rush and modernity of the city.

It’s a bit overwhelming, but this sense of confusion and uncertainty is one of many reasons why I came to Nepal.

Already, the village of Bhalamchour is beginning to feel more and more dreamlike. I remember walking past large fields of rice with my ama & didi (older sister) on the way to a goat farm. Beyond the hills, the snow peaked Himalayas rose above the clouds, the very definition of majestic. Did that actually happen?

It did. It was beyond my wildest dreams. But now it’s time to move on and experience the next chapter: Kathmandu.

My host family greeted me yesterday at the program house and took me to their community of Kapan, about a 30 minute walk through a maze of side streets. I walked silently for about a minute, wondering if I should attempt conversation in Nepali or resort to English. My bua (father) resolved my internal debate when he asked in slightly broken English about my family. Soon we were swept away in conversation – it turns out my bua, Hari, is a very talkative guy!

We ended up at a 4-story cement building which I assumed was an apartment complex. I was surprised to find that it was the family house and that I was the newest member of a VERY large family. I live on the top two floors with Hari Basnet, his wife Binda, their three children, two daughter-in-laws, and four grandchildren. The first two floors contain even more family, but I have yet to learn their names and relationships. The ages in the household range from 4 to 70 and there is a lot of energy. I will be living here for about a month, and I’m looking forward to finding my place in this new, lively Nepali family.