I've already surpassed the longest amount of time I've spent abroad, but surprisingly, I don't feel homesick yet. I do miss my family, friends and boyfriend, but I kind of wish they were all here instead of me being there.
Despite all the differences and frustrations of Nepal, I feel at home.
Once again, there's no cohesive theme to this blog post, so I'll just write little snippets about the past few days.
On Thursday, I met with two editors at the Kathmandu Post. One works in the Op-Ed section, and the other works in features, and both are women (yay for female representation in the media!) It seems like the Kathmandu Post is a pretty progressive newspaper, and although Nepal has a Maoist government, the editors said they are free to publish articles that criticize politicians. The following day, I went back to the Post to meet with the editor-in-chief, and he offered me an internship for the next two months. Hoorah!
I'll be working in the Op-Ed section Monday through Friday doing some copy editing, which apparently is a lot of work because none of the writers are native English speakers. He also said I could write for features after a couple weeks. So, one way or another, I am going to get a byline this summer.
The only drawback to this internship is my daily commute - about 25 minutes by taxi or an hour by bus. Since taxis are expensive, I get the pleasure of being packed like a sardine on a bus every day. On Friday, after my meeting with the editor, I forced myself to figure out the bus system, if you can even call it a "system." There aren't any bus stops, and the only way to know where a bus is going is to flag it down and ask. There is a guy who stands in the open doorway of the bus who collects money – a whopping 35 cents in American money – and yells things at passersby (the names of towns I'm guessing? They talk so fast that they sound like auctioneers.)
It has rained all weekend, so the other volunteers and I spent a lot of time in Thamel, inside restaurants and bars and shops. It's amazing how many hippies there are in Nepal. I heard something about how they all came in the 60s and 70s because drugs were cheap, and a lot of them never left. We also saw some kids on the street huffing glue in broad daylight, which apparently is a big problem in Nepal (but isn't it everywhere with the homeless population?)
We went to Durbar Square near Thamel, which has lots of temples and the old royal palace when there used to be a kingdom. The monarchy was officially abolished in 2008, but it started to fall apart in 2001 when Crown Prince Dipendra massacred nine members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then killed himself.
After Durbar Square, we went to a really cool hookah place and then to a reggae bar to grab a bite to eat. We ordered pizza, which was a mistake, because it ended up containing mystery meat. The menu said it was ham, but it definitely wasn't any ham I've ever had, and it certainly wasn't beef because Nepalis don't eat cow (not even the Christians that I'm living with, which I found interesting). My guess is goat? All I know is that I won't be ordering pizza again unless it's in an Italian restaurant.
Here are some miscellaneous photos from the past week:
He's saying, "Read my palm, auntie, pleaseeeeee."
Where I'm living in Dhapasi Heights
I was sitting in a cafe eating an omelette one morning when a Hindu man came up to me and gave me a blessing. This is called a tilak, which is symbolic of the third eye and enlightenment.
A boy playing soccer near Thamel
Relaxing in Durbar Square