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A Few Unusual Things about Nepal

By Thursday, April 04, 2013 , , ,

  1. People don't like to say 'no', to them it seems rude. While no one likes saying 'no', people here don't like to say no because they don't want to disappoint you to straight forwards fact finding questions, like "does this have dairy in it?" or "have you heard from so-and-so yet?". Sometimes they'll say yes, sometimes they'll say no, and sometimes they'll say tomorrow. 
  2. People spit. And not only do they spit, they loudly and enthusiastically participate in a practice known as "hocking". One dark night walking to Thamil square someone did this right behind me and it was Absolutely Terrifying. It was this horrible noise like "HuAaaARGGHR!!", full of ferocity, furor and, well, spit. Afterwards I thought "now I know the sound that werewolves make when turning from man to beast" and I think I scared him by how much it made me jump. 
  3. You cross the road by walking out into traffic and hope they stop. And they do! Or they weave around you without slowing down. Taking a Taxi here is terrifying. Drivers here believe lanes can easily be replaced with lots of honking and enthusiastic accelerating and braking. Once our driver got a ticket for "Going the wrong way".
  4. There are many different cultural and ethnic groups in Nepal, and many different religious traditions, all with their different holidays. Nepal handles all the holidays by giving everyone every holiday off, so you might find major institutes closed on obscure religious holidays.
  5. People will try to sell you things, and telling them No Thank You doesn't always work. I'm sure this is true of many, many places, but it was incredibly frustrating for me. Even without my camera and backpack I don't look like a local, and at times it felt like I was walking with a target on my back. I went back the Durbar Square Kathmandu on my own, and ended up leaving before I want to just because I was constantly being stopped or approached by people trying to sell me things. And they'd get angry and upset with me if I didn't want anything.
  6. "Fat" means healthy. One day at breakfast the brother of a grad student I work with, who was employed by the hotel (and got us the good rate) told me I looked like I was getting fat and made the pinching cheeks gesture with his hands  Although it was obvious by the tone of his voice this was meant as a compliment, it still threw me for a loop. 
  7. Last, and possibly most importantly, you can't drink the tap water. You probably already know that, but it also means you have to watch out for ice and fresh vegetables. Vegetables should be soaked in iodine water for at least an hour, and most restaurants that do this and use bottled water for ice will put it on their menu, which at least in the tourist section Thamil is posted outside.

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  1. Avoiding tap water is always overly tricky. It's even worse when you're in a country where the answer to "can I drink the tap water?" is "it depends on the pipes!". At least with an absolute warning you know to avoid all of it!