Art-Her From-Her
Big packet of knowledge, likes to guide people around

Location of Nepal Civilization wise

Even though Nepal is at the crossroads of the Indian and Sino-Tibetan civilizations, there is limited influence from the Sino-Tibetan side. Also, as the world is becoming much smaller and the culture more homogenous, the whole concept of a discrete civilization has started to become frivolous. Hence, we will leave the deep stuffs to the scholars and focus on the little things that define our civilizations. Also, rather than contrasting the Indian and Sino-Tibetan Civilization, it will be helpful if we first look at the western and Nepali way of doing things.

Shedding off the fear to be politically incorrect, I think it is fair enough to say that while the west values objectivity and straightforwardness, we Nepalis are a rather emotional and polite bunch. While the west measures, we feel it. While the west values individuality, we value communal feel good and conformity. While the major currency in the west is cash, here it is karma. Okay, now that went a bit too overboard, but you get the point!!

Also on a lighter note, it will perhaps be okay to say that while the west sits in the loo, we squat; while the west uses toilet paper we use our hands. Oh that water bit will make sense once you try out our food. If you use toilet paper the morning after a scrumptious Nepali meal, there is a genuine possibility that it could burn!! Also, while the west sits on chairs and eats with spoons and forks, we sit on the floor and eat with our hands. And no we don’t use the same hand we use in the loo. Left is for the loo and right is for eating.

And then there is a western head nod:

Head Nod

And then there is our head shake:

Even though that video showed the Indian head shake, the Nepali way of doing things is very similar too.

As far as the differences between the Indian and Sino-tibetan way of doing things here in Nepal, the most important difference is perhaps the level of boisterousness between the two. Most of the sino-tibetan people who happen to inhabit the higher parts of the country are generally more lively and more open. It is also interesting to note that in this culture women have a higher place than cultures influenced by the Indian civilisation. They are also more receptive to flirting and are much more straightforward about feelings than groups influenced by the Indian civilization.

But then again please note that these are all politically incorrect generalizations. Reality maybe very different. :P

What does this mean for you?

  1. The exercise that will best prepare you for a trip to Nepal is squats. squat toilet
  2. Carry your own toilet paper wherever you go.
  3. Smiles, and not anger, will get more things done here in Nepal.
  4. A Nepali will always be on time, give or take 15 minutes.
  5. A Nepali will never say ‘No’. And a ‘Yes’ doesn’t always mean ‘yes’.
  6. Everybody is related to everybody else in Nepal. That is why even when two people who have just met hit it off with Dai (Elder Brother) and Bhai (Younger Brother) dynamics. Also popular are Aama (Mother), Buwa (Father), Didi (Elder Sister), Bahini (Younger Sister), Baaje (Grandfather), Bajai (Grandmother), Mama (Maternal Uncle) and also more recently Uncle and Aunty. Feel free to join the one big happy family. Just don’t say Swasni or Budi (wife).

Only in Nepal

  1. Nepal is perhaps one of the few places where all four primary elements are used to dispose off the dead. For example, Hindus and people of some other cultures here burn their dead (Fire) and most Tibeto-Burmese people here bury their dead (Land). In parts of Mustang and Dolpo, the dead are chopped off to be fed to the vultures in a rite of Sky Burial. Also while very rare, there have been reports of people being buried in a river among the Sherpas and some other Tibetan speaking people of Nepal!!!
  2. Since the Nepali culture is so geared toward being polite and proper, there are five different variations of the simple English word ‘you’. And each of these ‘you’s is targeted to a different hierarchy of relationship. For example, there is the derogative ‘ta’ which is also used among close friends, the standard ‘timi’, the coldly respectful ‘tapai’, the intensely respectful ‘hajur’ and the bend over backwards for the royals ‘mausuf’!!

Little Secret no one will tell you

  1. How much more time to Place X? will inevitably result in timings that are way less than what it will actually take. Do not take issue at this, as it mostly results from good intentions. It could either be that the one you put the question to can walk much faster or that she simply doesn’t want to demoralize you with a 3hr estimate when a polite “15 minute” could send you running off all upbeat. :)