Village Life

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Nepal  , Mid Western Region,
Friday, January 13, 2012

This really was an incredible journey,  Santa from Thimi Ceramics had arranged for me to go and visit rural pottery villages way out in the west of Nepal.  I left Kathmandu on the 'tourist bus' at 6:30am with Santosh who picked me up by taxi and was to drop me off in Lamahi where I would then be collected by Arun, and taken to his family home.  The journey was around 12 hours and the road being Nepal was just chaos.  We passed Chitwan and Bhutal, and started heading up the mountain roads until finally we arrived at Lamahi.  Arun came to collect me by motorbike, and we rode out 20km to his family home taking in the most stunning sunset over the River Rapti.  I feel like I've arrived in the African planes instead of Dang, it’s stunning.
 

The family are all lovely, there are lots of them though so I feel quite at home!  Arun is to look after me and show me around the many surrounding villages of Gobardhia, Patringa, Khairya, Gadhwa and many more!  First though I am fed and watered and shown a lovely room that I’ll be staying in, and after a long journey I’m tired enough for bed.  The family have a very large home, there are seven brothers and two sisters (I think) and it can accommodate them all when needed.  Most of the family are all married but the son’s and their families should all stay here which is tradition.   I get a really peaceful sleep (probably because there are no dogs barking) and get up early.  I’m offered breakfast, after which I have a walk down to Deukali which is the nearest village, with one of the young girls.  
 

This is what I imagine a village to be like, the raised haystacks everywhere with the buffalo shelter underneath, the houses are all built from bamboo, straw and cob, and the walls are really thick, the fire is made of a clay mix and they normally burn firewood.  When I’m walking down through the village there seems to be a lot of commotion going on in various pockets down through the village.  I’m told that they are preparing for a holy festival so each family is sacrificing a pig, when I’m walking down they are burning them in straw and getting ready.  It means that there are clouds of smoke the whole way down the village, but despite all of this every eye turns towards me on passing.  They are all intrigued by this strange visitor and openly stare, many of the children come up to touch me I must look strange enough to them.  I’m taken down to the old family home (before it got too small for them) before being shown the Rapti River where the women are all washing clothes, it really is a fascinating insight into village life.  On the way down to the river though some women pass us with a few buckets of intestines from the pigs, I’ve no idea where they are going with them, and I don’t think I want to!
 

When I get back Arun takes me out to visit some of the pottery villages, the first one is unbelievable, this is a real village of hard working families struggling for survival.  Farming firstly to feed their families as well as potters to trade.  I’m introduced to one of the senior potters who shows me around his pots at various stages and demonstrates using an electric wheel that Santa has provided, and shows me many techniques I’ve never seen before.  While we are talking I’m very aware that around the shed, all the other villagers seem to be gathering to see the strange visitor, but I’m as taken with them as they are with me!  Next I’m shown over to the kiln (again provided by Santa) and they show me the design and how it works.  By the time I get to the kiln the whole village is following me, I feel like the only thing I’m missing is the BBC film crew behind me making a documentary of ‘Potters Life in Western Nepal!  It’s hilarious, honestly I feel like a complete celebrity and so incredibly privileged to be invited here and into their homes, given an insight into their life and works and shown their amazing skills which they make look so easy, it makes this a truly unique experience.  

 

Arun takes me round another half a dozen villages all similar, and Santa has had an input in all their lives, he is a highly respected and talented man who I am really glad I met.  Well realistically I landed myself at his home, or nearby and called to ask them to pick me up, he had no idea even who I was, and before I know it, after spending the day with him he has arranged for me to stay out here with his friends family!

 
The family invite me to the Beneath Baba Temple in the Kutti Jungle for one of their main celebrations, I'm delighted to be thrown in the back of the trailor pulled by their tractor with all the women and children, it's an incredible day out and I feel so lucky to be here sharing this experience.  We go into the temple together and take offerings, we then chat to the 'priest' who gives us his blessings before heading further into the jungle to be served dhal bhat on plates made from leaves (a few of which I have made with the family myself).  Once again the food is really good and I'm glad that out in the jungle they don't seem to mind me eating with my hands.

 
After everyone is fed we head off towards the waterfall and river to collect firewood, all of a sudden one of the women jumps, shouts out and shakes her scarf, 'scorpion' she cries and every jumps back!  I think I've just realised that we are in an actual jungle and I've only flip flops on!  I'm a bit freaked out but everyone just carries on.  So we gather lots of firewood which the women then tie up with bits of tree before carrying all the loads back to the tractor balanced on their heads.  They think nothing of it but I'm well impressed to be seeing how they actually do this first hand, and entertain them by trying it myself (not even remotely successful before you ask).  We throw it all in the tractor and make our way back to home, the kids all sing and dance the whole way back down and is really entertaining.  A couple of the girls in particular are really talented, with them singing the 'Oh la la' Indian song that's popular at the minute.

 

All in all I have a really special experience with the family and I'm sad to leave here, it's been a wonderful insight into rural village life, and the real Nepal.
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