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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Nepali New Year

Our time in Patan was full of many great memories but one of my favorite days was Nepali New Year.

Waking up that morning, my homestay family’s plan was to go have a picnic at a secret location, but we weren’t sure if weather was going to allow it. After a of couple hours of indecision, we decided to go for it. Later that morning, I went to the program house and on an excursion to Pashupatinath Temple but my homestay dad, Swayambu, kept calling to make sure I would make it back in time. I decided to leave the group early and come back to make sure I wouldn’t be late for my family excursion. I ran up to the main road outside the temple and saw a taxi waiting on the shoulder. I asked him in Nepali how much a ride back to Patan would cost and proceeded to bargain. I was able to drop the price by almost half! He agreed and I hopped in. For the thirty minute ride back I was able to practice my Nepali with him; we talked about how long I had been in Nepal, where we were from, what food we liked, what we liked to do, etc. As we were arriving in Patan, one of the main roads was blocked off and we had to take a detour. He didn’t know how to get back to the main square but luckily after a couple of minutes of driving around, I started to recognize my surroundings and was able to direct him back to my homestay. Normally being “directionally challenged,” I was very excited to know my way around my new home! He dropped me off, I said thank you and we said our goodbyes. I ran up to my homestay and as soon as I opened the door to my house, I could hear all of the people. The house was full of my homestay mom, dad, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother. Everyone was excited for the afternoon excursion. I went into my room to change and as soon as I was ready, my homestay sister, Sneha, immediately grabbed my hand and pulled me saying, “It’s time! Let’s go!” We ran down the stairs and out the door and there in front of the house was a huge bus waiting for the entire to family to pile in. One after the other, every member of the family piled onto the huge bus. I sat in the last row with Sneha, Sujal, my homestay brother, and two of their cousins.

As soon as we started moving, one of their aunts started to sing and clap, and their dad was laughing and dancing at the front. Everyone on the bus started to join in and soon all thirty of us were singing, laughing, clapping, and dancing. Two hours later, we were driving up into the hills surrounding Kathmandu Valley, still unsure of our surprise, final destination. I could feel the air start to become cooler and crisper the higher we went up in elevation. Soon enough I felt the bus stop and my family say, “We’re here!” I got off the bus with Sneha and Sujal and we were at a beautiful lake overlooking the valley. Some other families were having a picnic and dancing next to the lake. As we began to walk around the lake looking ‘for a nice spot to have our picnic’, I felt a few raindrops hit my arms. Then a few more. Before we knew it, it was pouring rain and we all ran back to the bus screaming and laughing. No one seemed to care that rain was pouring down. We got back on the bus and looked for another place to eat. We came upon an unfinished school that had an amazing view and decided to stop there. It began to rain harder and harder and all of a sudden the rain turned into hail the size of golf balls. One by one we either ran into the school or passed umbrellas back to one another. I was the last one to leave the bus and my dad ran back to get me with the umbrella. I was screaming the entire walk into the school as he laughed at my reaction. When I walked into the room where we everyone was, they had already set up seating for everyone and plates with tons of food. My mom gave me so much food it could have fed me for a full week. As I tried to eat, my dad kept telling me to open my mouth so he could keep pouring Fanta. Even though we were all soaking wet and the weather seemed like it was never going to let up, no one let it bother them.

After we all ate, the kids and I went outside and started running around and began to have a snowball fight with the hail. We chased each other around and I felt as if I was actually a part of their family. Soon, all the parents came out and joined us by throwing hail, running around, and taking videos. Everyone was making the most out of a rainy predicament. We then went onto the roof and took pictures with the stunning views of Kathmandu. It felt as if I could breathe again being away from the busy city. Once we were done taking pictures, we all piled onto the bus to go back home. Ten minutes into our drive down the steep hills, we came across a huge waterfall that had formed from the storm and my entire family began to scream from excitement. We pulled the bus over and everyone ran out to the waterfall. Despite being soaking wet, I ran straight into the water. Sneha and I splashed the water around, took pictures, and just admired how amazing it was. Our family took more pictures, danced around, and was laughing at how goofy everyone was being. After we all felt we had splashed around enough, we piled back on to the bus for our long ride back into the city. Sneha and I listened to music together on the way back and we both fell asleep after the long day.

What could’ve been a disappointing day due to the weather, turned into one of my favorite memories from Nepal. I loved to see how my homestay family made the most of stormy situation. This is just one lesson I hope to bring back home with me.