As I step off of the jeep and onto the fertile soil of Chokati I was met with the smell of manure and sight of houses dotted in between Nepali fields. The rush of familiar senses into a state of reminiscence on that of my childhood home. Located in the agricultural plans of the Mississippi delta lies my home, Greenville. As my time in Chokati continues I am constantly shocked by the continuous parallels I have found between that of the two communities.
On one of the first days in the in the village I was taken in by a group of neighborhood kids. The children, whose ages ranged from three to sixteen, took me down to the river to throw rocks into the water and laugh in amusement at the larger splashes. As we walked around the bank we stumbled upon a group of their peers. They had made a tiny fire to warm themselves after a dip in the river. In that moment I couldn’t help but smile. For you see I too spent much of my childhood running around with the neighborhood kids making dams in the streams, starting tiny leaf fires in our backyards, or climbing through the big magnolia trees.
The children of Chokati are constantly running in and out of each others house so it is near to impossible to tell which child belongs to whom. I myself grew up with similar circumstances. For it was not just my parents who raised me, but family friends, grandparents, aunts, and uncles played an important role in bringing me up in this world. I see that on the daily here as all the children run in out of all the surrounding houses.
The main family gatherings of Chokati are often centered around their meals. Everyone comes together to eat Daal baat, roti, and saag. All of which are traditional Nepali foods that are filled with just as history as it has in flavor. These meals are inexpensive to make and often times many of the ingredients are just in their backyard or somewhere close by. I grew on up catfish and corn. All of which where local crops of the delta. They are often served with spices and flavors that are unique to that of the region.
It is quite rare to find someone who does not have some sort of connection to farming in both of the communities. Although, the way each communities perceive this connection is quite different it remains to be an important part of the history and culture of each place. In our world the bond humans have with the land is slowly coming to an end. I am happy to see that bond continue in Chokati and in Greenville.