Monday, July 18, 2016

Farewell Nepal

We visited a couple of temples in Kathmandu.  Most had Hindu and Buddhist influence, side by side.  They were quite interesting in their designs and purposes.  Above, Babu helped us with the tradition of trying to flip a coin into the Buddha's pot for good luck.
Monkey temple, aptly named for the hoards of monkeys crawling everywhere.  These animals are quite familiar with humans and will gladly steal anything you leave in the open.

Every temple seems to have various idols for sale outside of it.  The shopkeeper of this store heard me coughing terribly, (I think it is mostly due to the extremely poor air quality) but he was kind enough to come out and tell me not to drink anything cold.  The Nepali are adamant that if you suffer from the common cold you absolutely must not drink anything cold.  He wanted to make sure I knew not to consume anything with ice and absolutely nothing from the fridge.  They are a very caring people.  

These are Buddhist prayer wheels that people will turn as they walk around the temples. We also saw some prayer wheels that were about 3 meters high and more than a meter in diameter in small temples that we drove past.

We saw this monkey run up to a child and grab her ice cream right out of her hand.   Another stole Jonah's peanut butter cracker, which is impressive because Jonah usually has a tight grip on those sorts of things.  Thieving monkeys!
The same day we also made a pilgrimage to a Hindu temple complex.  As part of it we walked by these platforms used for cremating the dead.  The river behind us, while very low due to the dry season, flows into the mighty Ganges in India.  Many Hindus come here to cremate their dead and then spread the ashes into the sacred river.  We were able to see a few platforms being used for exactly that purpose.

We could fill a blog with all of the people who wanted a picture with our white children.  We had to remind our kids frequently to be patient with the picture taking.  Sometimes there was a line up of people that wanted their picture with us.  It was quite a fun experience for Aaron and I to watch, the attention is really all on the children, for us it is hilarious.  They are pretty good sports and quite courteous to the strangers, but they have all decided they would not want to be a celebrity, or a character at Disneyland.  Ha!  and they use to complain about how many pictures I take!
Babu explains the Buddhist Wheel of Life to us.
Walking along the busy streets of Kathmandu.  It was crowded, polluted, noisy, and raucous.  I have never seen such pandemonium.  This city doesn't even have power for street lights, so you can imagine how crazy it can be.  Insert the occasional sacred cow wandering through and it is true mayhem.
Max, "Today was a very good day.  We went to Kathmandu.  We drove to the city and saw many crazy masses of apartments like Morocco and Athens, but Kathmandu took the cake.  There were no lanes and by the look of it no guidelines.  It was also very dirty.  We went to the monkey temple.  On the way to the temple we stopped at a bucket that if you threw coins in it it was good luck .  We threw some coins in, I didn't get any in.  We saw dozens of monkeys.  Luckily they didn't pick us for bugs.  We climbed up and saw the big temple.  A huge white dome in the Nepalese fashion with a humongous spire decorated with the eyes of Buddha and completely encased with prayer wheels.  It was amazing.  Then we looked down a stairway with 300 stairs and a monkey stole Jonah's cracker!

"The next temple we walked in and saw a million dirty pigeons bobbing by.  We walked in and looked briefly at the painting of the Sun, Moon, and Destroyer.   Then we went out and crossed a bridge where many people burn their dead.  Eli got viciously attacked by a monkey and we went to the next temple.  We got in and since it had been damaged greatly during the earthquake it wasn't very impressive, but all the bamboo scaffolding was interesting.  We then got lunch at a terrific restaurant that took no time at all and was delicious.  I got steak and the mashed potatoes weren't fake.  Then we walked into a Buddhist monastery and learned about the circle of life.  It was a very interesting and good day."         May 19, 2016  
Safely back in the peacefulness of our little homestay, we commissioned a local seamstress to create traditional Nepali dress for us.  Once the material was bought, the sewing only cost $2-$3 per outfit.  Unbelievable.
Max learns traditional Nepali cooking in his traditional Nepali hat.  I think the family favorite is deep fried chickpea fritters.  Most of the healthiness is probably lost when you deep fry these babies, but all my kids loved them and we'll definitely be making them when we get home.
Chick Pea Fritters (bottom left of photo above)
1.  Start with a mug full of dry chick peas or garbanzo beans - soak overnight of for at least 6 hours -      makes about 3 cups of soaked beans
2.  Drain and blend in blender about 1 cup at a time.  Add water to blender enough for beans to puree to the consistency of thick baby food.  Once each cup has blended collect in a separate bowl.
Meanwhile be heating up a tall skillet of oil, Bella used sunflower oil but any will work.
3.  Repeat until left with the last cup of chickpeas
4.  With these blend 3 Garlic cloves and 1/2 inch of fresh ginger root
5.  Add 2 eggs (3 if it seems dry) to the bowl of blended chickpeas, garlic, and ginger, mix well
6.  Mix in 1 to 2 tsp of salt
When oil is hot, drop chick pea mixture into oil in about 2 tablespoon sized blobs.  Once cooked on one side stab center with blunt end of a wooden pencil to allow cooking through the center and flip fritter to cook on other side.  Once completely golden browned place on a plate, or if I had a paper towel I would use it, allow to cool slightly and enjoy!  Great for an after school snack.

Our host family of Bella, Aayush, and Babu were so kind to us.  We truly enjoyed them.  They even put on a concert for us our last night there and sent us off with scarves of good luck.  We learned so much from our time in Nepal.  We lived through a 4.3 level earthquake.  Five out of the seven of us got terrible food poisoning.  We survived that even without a washing machine, only hand tubs and an outdoor faucet.  We had the privilege to meet happy, kind hearted, beautiful people who have nothing and yet have everything.  Nepal was hard, but fabulous.

We will miss them!

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