Rupees Dipped in Gold

When P and I went to the Bratabhanda in Wisconsin in April we met some of his extended relatives who were living in Germany. They brought several boxes of fancy German chocolates as souvenirs and distributed a box to each family’s household.

The chocolates were good, but very rich, not something you would snack on randomly after work, so we put the box on a shelf to save for another time.

Over the weekend a friend came to town to pack up her remaining things so she could prepare to leave the US for good; she spent her last few days with us. She is Peruvian, but has been living in Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the Amazon jungle of Brazil, for the past year. She had recently returned to attend her phd graduation ceremony, and was now packing the books and research that she had left behind the last time she departed. She’s very talkative, and I spent most evenings chatting with her about life in Peru and Brazil.

One night P brought the box of German chocolates out for dessert, and we indulged while continuing our conversation. As our friend and I talked, P unwrapped his chocolate and looked at the rectangle of fancy yellow foil that had once covered it. He smoothed it out, and gathered our other wrappings from the table. He flattened each and started to count them, like he was shuffling through a short-stack of $20 bills.

When our friend and I looked over to see what he was doing he said, “When we were kids we used to save fancy candy wrappers like this and pretend they were money. We would pretend to buy things from each other, or pretend we had a lot of money in our pockets.”

He shuffled through the wrappers again. They were golden yellow, made from heavy foil and cellophane. I could imagine five year old P prizing such a fancy find, pretending they were rupees dipped in gold.

I liked the vision of a young P, using his imagination, and making up games with the other kids in his neighborhood. I can almost imagine standing on the roof of his present-day house in Kathmandu, watching them play with their pretend money in the backyard, chasing each other around.

It was an image I thought I’d share.

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5 responses to “Rupees Dipped in Gold

  1. Great blog! Will be sharing it with my friends too :)

    What a sweet and nostalgic story! Just yesterday, some Nepali-American friends and I were talking about how we did not play with “toys” while growing up in Nepal. We used everyday things such as these candy wrappers, sticks, rocks, shoe polish containers, etc. I think this type of play not only sparked our imagination and creativity, but also make us think hard about what kind of toys we buy for our own children today. Thanks for sharing this lovely story!

    • americanepali

      P says the same thing… that they didn’t have a lot of (what we would call) “toys” but created a lot of things. It helps to but things in perspective.

  2. I can definately picture the kids doing that. I remember growing up in South Africa and making up games and using my imagination. I wish kids these days did more of that instead of pulling out an ipad.

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