Category Archives: Stuff from Daily Life

ABD, Bday, and lots of Snow…

This was a big week for Americanepali—

Wednesday we had a snow day. As a college administrator in the northeast of the US, we don’t often get days off for bad weather, since we are supposed to embrace it (they say in New England—if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change). However Wednesday’s storm dropped about 18 inches on us. I’d upload pictures of our car in the snow bank which was our parking lot, but you seriously can’t tell it’s a car. It just looked like a big white pile of snow with black windshield wipers sticking out! I celebrated by curling up on the couch under a warm blanket, cuppa tea in hand, reading a big thick book—at least until I had to shovel out the car.

Thursday—P passed his dissertation proposal defense, which means he is officially “ABD” or “all but dissertation.” One of these days he might just be finished with school altogether :) Joking aside, I’m very proud of him. He’ll make a great “Dr. P” someday.

Friday was P’s “Nepali birthday.” We never quite know when it is ( it generally sneaks up and surprises us), but P’s mom will call and wish him a happy birthday on this day and generally go to a temple in Kathmandu to do a special birthday puja.

Saturday—was P’s 30th birthday! (Oops, I “out-ed” the old man). He didn’t want anything major, just some friends over for dinner. So we had the usual gang– R, S, D, S-di, M-dai, BG, N, our Irish friend, P’s brother and my sister. We were missing AS and N though– our former roommates who have left the cold of New England for greener pastures in Washington DC.

Monday was a holiday… and today work closed early due to more inclement weather. Although I would have loved another full “snow day,”  I’ll take getting out 3 hours early!

What I’ve Been Up To…

I’m sorry my posting spree of October became a relatively quite November. As I mentioned at one point, things became pretty busy. Here’s what’s been happening in the American-Nepali Household:

-November meant Tihar celebrations leading into an international educators conference, leading into International Education Week programming, leading into good bye parties and dinners for AS and N, leading into Thanksgiving celebrations (and lots of “on the road traveling” to see family)…

-December meant preparing for the international student council’s biggest event of the year the International Dinner, and now that the dinner is finished, prepping for Christmas, writing out my long list of Christmas cards, and organizing our annual Christmas party in “the household.”

P and I have also been doing a lot of apartment cleaning/rearranging since the departure of our friends. It was a little challenging to completely “settle in” when we first moved to our new place since we didn’t use certain sections of the apartment. Not to mention (frustratingly) there were a lot of small things around the apartment that were broken by previous tenants, that P and I didn’t have time or patience to fix before (don’t get me started on the landlady who lives thousands of miles away and is not interested in fixing these “small” inconveniencies.). I actually spent a good deal of Sunday afternoon on a ladder 12 feet up in the air  replacing venetian blinds and fixing the pulley systems to get them to open and close properly (perhaps working at an engineering college is starting to rub off on me?) Now that the weather is getting cold, being able to close the blinds and keep out the evening draft will  be important!

Lastly, I’ve also been working on wedding stuff—I found a dress for the American ceremony (hurray!), we finally locked in the Nepali ceremony site (another hurray!), and my sister printed “Save the Date” magnets that she designed for us that I am hoping to get out soon (which will be a “hurray!” once they are distributed). I’ve also been working on a website so that invitees can have more information about venues, times, dates, places to stay, etc. I’m hoping to have two pages that explain some of the cultural elements of the “white wedding” and the “red wedding” and for some reason have hit a bit of a wall—I’m not really sure what to include. Perhaps if I have time later today I’ll try to draft something and put it up here for some suggestions. I don’t want to overload people with information, but being an international educator I find the dual ceremonies a “teachable moment” and I want my friends and family to learn more about the traditions involved.

So that’s where I am these days. What are you up to? Any holiday/festivals coming up in your households? Do you have suggestions on what to write for Nepali or American wedding traditions?

Empty Nest

Our apartment feels kind of empty and cavernous these days, like the space is too big for us. I guess we are just used to having more people around and it will take time to adjust. I feel a little like a parent whose children have gone off to school and left us alone. I miss having the house bustling with people, the lights on in the living room when we get home from work, the “family” dinners around the table, always having someone to chat with over tea and snacks. It doesn’t help that winter in New England is settling in. Days are short, dark and gray, and it makes the house feel all the more darker and colder too.

I think I was always a relatively social person. I enjoyed connecting with others, being part of a larger community and network of friends, but it wasn’t until I connected with the Nepali community that I truly realized how nice it was to have others around.

Sure, we all have days when we come home after a long day at work, you might be in a bad mood, and you just want to sit alone and watch a movie or read a book, or even just go to bed early. I’ve been there (and done that!) but there is something really nice about sharing your life with others.

I got quite a bit of flack from some of my family members recently about my “lifestyle choices” especially when we had a host of people with us the past few months. Most were friends– recent graduates from master’s programs desperately looking for jobs in a horrible economy, they just needed a place to be while they looked for the next thing. P and I had the space, how could we say no? And it’s not like our friends didn’t contribute towards the household, they insisted on helping towards rent, and we rotated cooking meals and cleaning up, it was really helpful and nice.

“You go way above and beyond for your friends,” my mother chided, “I would never let people live with me endlessly like that, it’s not our culture.

“But Mom,” I tried to reason, “Our friends are important to us, and far from home, most don’t have a lot of relatives in the US, and they just needed a helping hand for a little bit. If I were thousands of miles away from home wouldn’t you feel better knowing that someone was helping me?”

Her: “No, because they are not family, why would they help you? What would be in it for them?”

Me: “Why does there have to be something in it for them? Whatever happened to being there for people just to be there for people?”

Her: “Well this nonsense better stop once you are married! You’ll have to grow up and start living like an adult and stop having all these visitors!”

These conversations get so exasperating!

Luckily December continues to be busy. And I hope I get a bit of my writing mojo back!

On the Move

During the next week and a half the American-Nepali household will be shifting locations. Not the website but our actual household. We aren’t moving very far, just to a bigger place down the road with off-street parking and a nice view.

However I’m a little sad to move, we have been in our current apartment for three years, much longer than I expected when we first moved in–and the apartment has been good to us. While the local neighborhood wasn’t always the safest, most of our friends lived only a short walk from our place, and we often had visitors popping in to say hello, have a cup of tea and/or a plate of food. Actually within half an hour of P and I driving up in the U-Haul delivery truck from New York we met three Nepali neighbors walking down the street who dropped everything to help us carry boxes. It was a warm and helpful “welcome to the neighborhood” and a nice surprise. Our new place is in the same apartment complex as our friend D, so rest assured there will still be guests (and much early Saturday morning soccer watching for P), but the people from our old neighborhood, most of whom do not have cars, might visit a little less frequently.

I have to admit that having guests pop in unexpectedly was something I had to get used to. The house I grew up in was in the woods. Our road was about two miles long and I could count the number of neighbors we had on one hand. We had guests from time to time, family or friends who would stop in for the day, but those visits were usually scheduled. I never experience the suburban lifestyle of neighbors knocking on my door for a cup of sugar, and I think we only had two trick-or-treaters at our door for Halloween.

It might not always be convenient to have people ring the doorbell randomly, but it’s nice to know that people care, that they genuinely want to say hi, see how you are doing, and talk about how the day went. It’s nice to feel connected to a community. As more of our friends start to graduate from their masters and phd programs and filter away, our community will grow smaller and eventually even we will have to either stay more permanently or move away as well. I hope wherever we do wind up we have another great community surrounding us.

But for now, our move is not so far. So I hope we still get visitors for tea and dinner! That means you too Neeti!

The World Cup and the Burglary

This weekend opened the World Cup, which means I have spent much of the past three days (at least in the mornings) plastered to a television or computer screen, along with our house guests, neighbors and various friends. I’ve mentioned before that soccer is more than just a sport in our household, it’s like a religion (as seen in posts “The Real Football” and P’s one and only guest blog piece “Joga Bonito Henry“).

I had watched a few World Cup matches before, but it wasn’t until the 2006 World Cup that I really started to understand soccer. Before that it was just a game that P enthusiastically played and watched, but after 2006 I could feel the pulse of the world celebrating along with various national teams as they made their way through the tournament brackets. It’s exciting and invigorating, and addicting. It’s going to be so hard trying to concentrate at work when the games are on. Luckily my boss is Danish, so I think we will watch Monday morning’s match together starting at 7:30am. I usually root for the African teams. I was thrilled with South Africa’s tie, and Ghana’s win, but sad that Nigeria conceded a goal. I’m looking forward to the Cameroon and Ivory Coast games this week!

I also have to throw in a plug for one of the “official” World Cup songs (I know there are technically two, but I like the K’naan song better, linked below):

So now the shift to the “burglary” part: P’s dad called yesterday. I’m not the only one who realizes that the whole world is watching the World Cup and thus distracted. Criminals do as well. While in Kathmandu last summer I heard stories about break-ins, and R told me that families having weddings have to be particularly careful about potential break-ins since everyone in the neighborhood knows whats going on and that there will be a lot of gifts and money around. Even on a regular day, break-ins can happen, but when there is a big citywide distraction (like World Cup watching), it is prime time for thievery. Sometimes they climb through your windows at night (many if not most of the houses don’t have screens like in America, so when windows are open, they are really open) and steal things.

Anyway, P’s dad and mom were sleeping in the living room, apparently watching the England vs. USA World Cup match around 2am (the games are airing at night in South Asia). P’s aunt lives on the first floor of the house (and has metal grills on her window in case a thief comes into the compound), but P’s parents live on the second floor and do not have window grills. As they were watching the game P’s dad heard a sound coming from their bedroom down the hallway, and went to investigate and caught several men who had climbed up the wall of the house to the second story and through their bedroom window. The men grabbed the cell phone that was charging in the room (which P had recently sent with our friend KS to give to his parents when she was in town last month), but luckily anything else of value was locked away in the large bedroom cupboards that Mamu literally keeps under lock and key. I guess the thieves were caught off guard by their sudden discovery and jumped out the window and ran off before anything else could be taken, leaving behind footprints and handprints on the wall where they climbed up.

“Oh my god! Did your dad run after them?” I asked,

“Of course not, that would be dangerous.” P said (I guess I’ve watched one too many Bollywood movies).

“Did they call the police?” I asked.

“The police aren’t much help. This kind of petty crime happens all the time. They probably wouldn’t do anything.”

So that was a scary bit of news. When we were there last summer P’s mom insisted on locking up our extra money, our passports, and anything of value in the large cupboards. I thought she was just being over cautious. P and I were pretty careless with our stuff actually… we had a laptop, camera batteries, and cell phones out and charging constantly, with our cameras out and visible most evenings when we went to bed. If the thieves had come last year at this time, through the same window (since P and I stayed in Mamu and Daddy’s room), they would have made a killing. Next time I go, it will remind me to be much more careful. But it is still scary.

Everyone is fine though, the American cell phone and some shaken nerves were the only casualties.

Back Again

Hello all, sorry I’ve been absent. I did give a heads up.

It has been busy. The  American-Nepali household has been all over the place in the past two weeks. P is working at a research institute in Maryland for the summer and left New England on Memorial Day. I was at an International Educators conference in Kansas City (MO and KS), and had a chance to stay with another Nepali college friend that I haven’t seen in years and meet his lovely wife. As one of my colleagues at the conference said, “You have Nepali connections all over the place!”

I returned home over the weekend to a full house. Since P is gone for the summer and we have space (and I prefer the company), three friends are staying with me—people you have heard about before—AS, N and KS. It is kind of nice to have an apartment full of people. We take turns making dinner and doing the dishes, there is always someone around to take a walk, go to the gym, watch a movie, or chat with. In addition there have been a lot of people around in general, dropping in for dinner, congregating to watch the Celtics in the NBA finals (hey, I live in New England, I  have to support the home team! Plus basketball is my American sport of choice), and this weekend is the start of the World Cup. Needless to say the summer will be full.

P is coming back tonight for a brief visit on his way out to South Dakota. The research institute in Maryland set him up in a hotel for the summer, which would be nice if it had a kitchenette. I think P has to make sandwiches, microwave dinners, or eat out.  He’s not happy, and is looking forward to daal, bhat, tarkari and maasu for dinner tonight (lentils, rice, vegetable curry and meat). Luckily the best cook in the neighborhood (AS) is now in residence!

Yesterday he mentioned to me that he met another Nepali at the research institute and I was teasing him about using the “Nepali ho” connection to get himself invited over to dinner once a week for his daal/bhat fix. Poor guy. I’ll have to drive to Boston to pick him up after work, and at least tonight he will have a belly full of Nepali cuisine.

Also, last night I submitted my story to be critiqued by the local writer’s group (I mentioned this before). I’ve passed it around to various friends for suggestions and edits before submitting the draft. There certainly is more work that could be done, but I’m pretty happy at where it is right now. I am looking forward to see what the writer’s group has to say (next Tuesday night), and another round of editing. I’m both nervous and excited. Perhaps one of these days I will see a story of mine in print. You never know.

MIA for a little while

My friend at Art Asana mentioned that her dad recommended that she let readers know when she is going to take a little break so they don’t think she just “disappeared.” I thought that was  good advice, so I wanted to give you guys a heads up. So here is the deal:

-I’ll be at an International Educators conference in Kansas City next week (anyone else going to NAFSA?), so I might not be able to post.

-In the meantime we are preparing for some summer house guests (AS, N and KS), and P is getting ready to spend the summer near DC, so the A-N Household has been busy cleaning (or trying to) and packing.

-I joined a local writer’s group to improve my writing skills and get feedback. The group rules are that you have to attend three months worth of meetings (to make sure you are “committed”) before you can have your stuff critiqued. I’m up for June… so I’m trying to rework African Hare Krishna into a stand alone piece. Reworking a piece takes a lot more time than I thought… so my creative juices are flowing it that direction this week.

I’ll be back in about a week and a half. I promise! (Unless something sparks a post before then…)