At the third and fourth floors of the building, our family of eight resides and overlooks the tall Bangalamukhi Temple. Ma takes care of the home and family, Da is a Newar priest, Rochani Didi runs a beauty parlor just underneath our home, Dipu Dai is an investment banker, Nisha Didi is a coordinator for a Japanese educational project, and Roja Didi is a fashion designer. Also in the household is Charlie Babu, who rests, keeps watch out the window, and barks at intruders (including me still somewhat). We all gather together every night for a dinner of daal bhaat, which may be prepared by any combination of people as everyone in the family is an experienced cook. Dipu Dai was even an assistant chef at a TGIF in Japan while he studied business there. Throughout the day, guests and extended family members pop in and out of the home and are always welcomed with ma’s five-star hospitality, which I have been lucky enough to enjoy for a few weeks now. Casual conversations and updates are enjoyed over chiyaa, and the whole home is always kept tidy and presentable for guests.
My fondest memories from the past week are quite simple ones – getting to know my siblings and learning about life in Nepal through our conversations, especially around family life and culture, sharing stories and photos, practicing my Nepali, watching cartoons with my cousin, uncle, and da, playing games late at night. Some of our conversations have ranged from music tastes to marriage and courtship in our respective cultures. The comfortable routine set here in Patan between daily classes and a home and family to return to every day makes doing anything differently seem strange. Though every experience, sight, and conversation is new and different, with time and adjustment to one place, they have also struck a balance between completely unknown and routine. I’m excited to see what the next three weeks here will hold as I continue to get to know my family, get familiar with Patan, and dare to explore farther out of my comfort zone. The prospect of leaving such a culturally rich place with so much to learn from seems so foreign and ominous even after four weeks, that I know I will have to make the most of every day I have here.