Finding your way through the streets of Kathmandu isn't easy at first. But when you have a friend to look out for you, it makes the experience a bit less stressful and more fun. My new friend Ashmita, on her way also into work, picks me up and we walk 35 minutes to our office in Pani Pokhari. At the Accountability Lab, she's in charge of Integrity Idol Nepal 2016, a reality TV show through which citizens nominate and vote for honest civil servants. She's great. She has walked me there and back for the past couple days now, so I don't get lost.
Anyways, on my route, I see rubble from what's left of homes and buildings after the latest earthquakes. Trash cover the ground. The sidewalks are a quarter of the size of ours in the states. Most people walk in the streets and don't even filch when a passing motorcycle honks. I flinch still. Cars and motorcycles (there are a lot more motorcycles than cars) rush by and unless you put your hand up to, and what a girl we ran into jokingly said, "pray to the gods" they'll stop, they'll run right into you, or at least seem like they would. I find it's about relaxing, knowing that you'll be fine, cars will stop and let you go at some point. You just need to be fearless and get out into the road. Take a step back before they hit you, if they don't let you go, I've been told. It feels a little like a game of frogger, to tell you the truth. And I never was any good at that game. Did I mention there are no street signs in Nepal? So I'm memorize businesses, government buildings and schools, so I know where to take a left, a right or keep walking. It's a complicated system, huh? ha.
Anyways, it's just an adjustment. Everybody goes through it. We all look like idiots, I'm sure, but I don't really care all that much.
Did I mention, I sleep under a mosquito net? You may ask, but "Why don't you just close your windows, Brittany?" Well, I'll tell you.. It's because it's extremely humid and warm here. I sleep without covers. And I'm a cover person. Yup, without covers. I know, crazy.
I'm just lucky it's monsoon season. I know, that sounds like a crazy statement, but when it downpours, it cools down. That's my jam.
Oh, and I'm learning Nepali. Yes, I should've prepared more in the states, but here it is and here I am. I need to learn it now to really get along. So, my friend from college Shiraz has been teaching me, as long as the great people I work with at the Accountability Lab.
I learned Tapai ko naam (what's your name?), Mera naam Brittany ho (My name is Brittany.) Dhanybhad (pronounced Daan-yay-vaad) (Thank you) and pani (water). Can't drink from the tap or I'll get sick, so I drink bottled water, even to brush my teeth. And a new phrase Nepal atti sundar desh ho (Nepal is a very beautiful country.) Ta-da! Yeah, and I'm learning names of places, stores and restaurants. Just wait..by the time I get comfortable, I'm sure I'll have to head back to the states. ha.
Also, I did a little research into the Nepali Flag and I found it fascinating. The blue border symbolizes peace and harmony. The crimson red is Nepal's national color, indicating the brave spirits of the Nepalese people. The two triangles symbolize the Himalaya Mountains. The depiction of celestial bodies represent permanence, the hope that Nepal will last as long as the sun and the moon. The moon symbolizes that the Nepalese are soothing and calm, while the sun stands for a fierce resolve.
The more I read about Nepal, the more I understand the culture and love Nepalese people have for their country. This makes me feel less of an outsider. Once I've started to understand the rich history, language, culture and way of life, I feel more like I'm finding my way.