Nepal is an amazing place not only for sight-seeing and getting greetings from local people but also for observing weird and uncanny customs that have been established here. Have you heard that Nepalese are polycephalic (what does this even mean!!) or that animals walk among people on streets like its a Disney's world or that a revolutionary dead poets society has been in movement with the slogans and messages in the back of trucks and buses since ages. Well, all this and more have been covered in our 10 things that you can see in Nepal below.
1. Being Polycephalic – A condition of having many heads
a. Nepalese are quadri-lingual
By the time a Nepali is an adult he/she goes through an unconscious learning of not one or two but four languages. Nepali is learned as a primary language and as the most common medium of verbal transaction of information and ideas. Then, because of its universality, comes English which is invested in us as secondary language starting from basic school years. With regular screening of Indian cinema since as long as our fathers recite their days of youth, Hindi is the third favourite language that we speak. Anyone who has been to Nepal can see the influence of Indian culture led by the big bad Bollywood. Thus, Hindi is known to every other Nepali. Finally, many of us bag one more way of verbal expression which is born from our ethnicity (Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang, Magar, Doteli, Urdu, Sunuwar etc). This tiny country of Nepal has got over 100 ethnic groups so you can imagine the different local languages that are spoken. So, almost all Nepali’s tongue is quadri lingual but this does not mean that you can’t trust us!!
b. There is no definite Nepali as there is a definite Oriental
If you are looking for a definite Nepali face then that is going to be one long search. There has been so much migration of Khas and Magars from west mid-hills; Tharu, Yadav and Thakuri from lower Terai belt; Sherpa and Tamang from Upper Himalayas and Kirats from the eastern side that what we have today is a mixed bag of colors. Chinese people might find this a little confusing since they have been so used to similar faces.
2. Touch me Not
a. Normal guys holding hands
We have not done it because of the strong stereotype binding us but there are plenty of guys that go on swinging their hands as they walk into the sun-set. This is a specific expression in many part of world that defines one’s sexual orientation but here it’s a sign of strong friendship who remain friends until the last drop of meaning dries off. Watching and observing ,you get to awkwardly accept that these muscular male-chaps are just dearly good friends and nothing more happens after that.
3. Cause it’s a Disney World
a. Cows and roads
These animals are supposed to be in plain grasslands where they can graze for hours. But the urbanization in many cities of Nepal have lost sight of such fields. Hence, confused cows are stuck in the middle of roads while passengers walk on with frowned eyes (don’t you think that you or me or any countless passer by can stop for a minute to get their hands dirty while towing these lingering creatures somewhere much less significant!! But who can play this role of macho-man?? Once it’s behind, it’s someone else’s pondering time!! Someone else's responsibility!!). Cities like Kathmandu are missing out on open playgrounds in the name of fatal development that does not care much about giving back to nature what it takes. And hence, we find the same cow in the middle of the roads now with its family.
b. Goats are on hoods
Goats, Hens and other household animals will never forget their first ride on a motor-bike, tractor, bus or truck. Dear animals, please forgive the care-taker for placing you in the roof of a bus because he didn’t own or even have enough money to spare a seat for you. He tried to change the conductors mind but nobody in the bus wanted an animal sitting beside them when the hood costs near to nothing. Some lives matter less than other and this is true to human nature. As such, you will be seeing goats on hoods.
c. Monkeys for Change
Monkeys are fast, chippy and always looking for some action around the corner. They are mostly found in forested areas of Kathmandu such as Pashupatinath temple or Swayambhu stupa eyeballing what delicacies devotees are holding. Also, due to reference from Hindu mythology about monkeys being avatars of Hanuman (Hindu God), they are usually bestowed with prasad (food given to or by god). In the noon when boredom hits its limit these gangsters gather up their homies to roam beyond their hoods frightening or startling local commuter who are on their way to their own call.
d. Rhino’s and Leopards on your alleys
Recently, visitors and locals are getting more surprises from wildlife. In March of 2015, a rhino found itself wandering past the local streets of Hetauda. And in a period of a year, we get three sharp nods by Leopards in Dhapasi, central Kathmandu and Lamjung village. Such frequent wandering from forest is happening because of the rapid encroachment of wildlife to build human settlement. When someone sits on your chair, you either act with hostile primordial instinct or logical reasoning. Animals usually don’t bother to be so much logical when sharp claws can deliver the right blow. So, we being the rational ones have got to start making the right decision of making more natural spaces for wild-lifes.
4. The Laws of Space
a. The conductor is never guilty
In our country, the conductor is never bothered by shame or guilt as he herds people in his bus. The charges are discarded by the simpleton jury because he only seems to have attended school when classes were going on about vacuum and empty space. People are forced to travel inside vehicles that are stuffed like a meat-pie up to the point where you need to decide if you should take the door or window. And how can we forget the sweet smell of sweaty armpits. Sajha Yatayat (Green colored buses) however has been able to stand as an exception.
b. Family of 4 travelling in a 2 person motorcycle
Why you ask? Cause we can! Here is what happens when a Nepali family travels in a motor-bike: the smallest child sits right above the fuel tank (wearing a sunglass), then sits the father (who drives), then the mother (with all her gifts) jumps squeezing the eldest child (with no place to put foot on) in between her and her husband. This is the golden thumb rule and many families have departed by getting hit by larger vehicle in such manner that just does not seem worthy of such ending.
But, Nepalese still travel. More than half of our population is middle-class (which is one of the reason why there are no revolution in a country whose government is the definition of instability) who own motor-bike rather than car. Doing double route is hampering because petrol is always walking on a thin line. And nobody wants to travel in a local transport!! But what if we had separate lanes for different sized vehicle. Saying all this, we are still not promoting this way of travelling in any road whatsoever.
The reason for this must be to reflect some sort of character of the person in-charge but they never fail to amuse the idle state of mind. Tag-lines are written, painted or sticker-pasted on the rear end of a vehicle benefitting anyone who’s getting too bored out of riding. Many of them are cheeky one liners, sexist yet funny lines and mostly poems (something similar to haiku poetry)
6. These are for real!!
a. College Football Clubs
Some dream of playing for their favorite club and others dream of visiting their favorite club once in their life-time. But, Nepalese colleges get a medal for pirating exactly the name, emblem and motto of football clubs such as “Liverpool” or “Chelsea”. Other Nepalese institutions with such names are “White-house college”, “Oxbridge College”, “Nasa College” etc.
b. Social Bus Network!!
It must be some sort of business strategy because we don’t think there is much deep occult meaning hidden behind when the curtain drops. Whatever it must be one of them started and rest followed by naming their buses “Facebook” or “Twitter” or “Google” or “Samsung”. And if somehow a person argues that these buses might have been sponsored then show them the facepalm.
7. Stop, Look,
Walk, Wait, Let Them Pass and Repeat
a. Zebra crossing is non-existent in Nepal
It has not been long since Nepal started paving its roads for smooth sailing of motorized vehicles. And today pitched roads are like running rivers washing down with large current every second (except for nights). For the safety of pedestrians zebra marks were invented which act like bridges that bypass the flow and grants pedestrians the priority. Hence dear readers and riders, we really want us to get this part absolutely right and humbly press those awesome brakes to halt to a stop. But on careful examination of the context that we are facing everyday there is a pressing lingering notion that the will to pass first, too many vehicles at a moment, personal emergency, mis-managed traffic, not enough awareness, punctuated roads and too much use of horn kills that very simplicity that we intend to maintain. Raising the voices of many we believe that we are still to cross many roads to arrive at this picture of common level of awareness that is collectively called “The Road Consciousness”. So, to all readers this is a message that Nepalese people are still stuck somewhere in between windows when it comes a fluent understanding of road ethics so following the title would serve you a lot better than getting served by a punk who just got his bike serviced.
8. After all, what's in a name!!
A friend may invite you out for a dinner as a courtesy. He’s says something like going to KFC outlet that just opened a few months ago. And you are expecting to stuff down buckets of heavenly fried chicken but sometimes things just don’t work out together. Here, KFC is abbreviating to Kwality Food Café.
9.The Nepali Shake
These are simple head signals that a Nepali uses to give basic response
a. Moving your head up and down means “YES”
b. Moving your head side to side means “No”
c. But moving your head side to side like below (with frowned eyes) means that you are listening carefully and are understanding when someone is dictating something important
d. Moving your head side to side means “Okay"
10. The Dark Side of Nepal
Have you ever found yourself about to watch a movie you think you deserve after a long day at work. You plug in everything, get food, close door and just when you’d turn on the T.V., it’s load-shedding!! A what!! Yes, it’s the daily load-shedding because there is not even enough electricity cultivated out of all the rivers flowing out from The Himalayas to equally distribute among all the public. Hence, as a counter measure we have “No Electricity Hours” in Nepal which is daily (approximately 16 hours in dry season!! Impressive isn't it!!). This has its foot so deep on Nepali life that we have software developers trying to make the perfect load-shedding app and mobile vendors selling cell phones with torch lights.
b. Run bandwidth run
The internet speed in this country is pretty low. Nepal is placed at 172th in overall world ranking. The bandwidth of highest ISP in Nepal is 1.08 mbps which is given by Nepalese Service Provider (NSP). And, more than 60% people lag and buffer with the bandwidth of 512 kbps. For basis of comparison South Korea tops its download speed at 34 mbps. This is a moment of sulky realization because the top dollar you are paying for your connection is sprinting on a steep gradient carrying a bag of stone.
You can watch our video to know about the mind bending facts to visit Upper Mustang here 🙂