Thursday, April 24, 2014

Daragaon III: The life of a baby, adventures in cooking, piercings and given land!

The past month has been full-on, exciting, and surprising. Just as Sarah Didi from England left, Tory Boini ("younger sister") from Chicago came. Another addition to the family in the past month is that Sobhit's mother has moved back to the village and is living with us. She refers to Tory and I as her daughters, and we call her "Amma." The family has really taken us in, so much so that they actually gave us some LAND! Not a joke. They've instructed us to build a house and bring our parents here. We've agreed, though it will take many years to make it a reality.

Nice land, gotta say!

Have also learned many new things about Nepali and village culture in the past month, such as...


Living with ten-month-old Precious has provided a wonderful opportunity to be able to learn about the Nepali style of raising a baby. Of course, this is quite different from the style I've been exposed to in the US. The thing I am most amazed by is how quickly they potty train the children. This is done out of necessity. Diapers are available in town but they are expensive, and seem to be reserved for special occasions or traveling. Here, holding a baby hear means getting peed on at one point or another. When the baby goes, then the adults simply change the baby's (and possibly their own) pants. As a result, the baby's pants are changed many, many times a day (which also means a lot of laundry).

According to Sumi Baoju (Precious's mother), babies are started to be potty trained at the age of six months, if not before. It seems that the way they do this is by pulling down the baby's pants (outside) and then making the designated peeing sound: "shhhhh". At night, when the baby wakes up, they go "shhhhh" over a bowl. At one year, they start to "shhhh" over an actual toilet. At 15 to 16 months, the child will start to be able to tell their family members when they need to go to the toilet. And then, by one and a half, rumor has it they can use the toilet by themselves, and rarely or never have accidents.

A wonderful example is our neighbor, Prasancha, who at two years old is completely potty trained.

Talented Child

Another thing I've found quite interesting is the customs regarding breastfeeding. In the US this is a bit of a debate, and although we're not shy about showing women in lingerie on billboards, women feel shy to breastfeed in public. Here, nudity is VERY taboo and I will rarely even see women in capris or sleeveless shirts. But there's no shyness regarding breasfeeding: it happens anytime, anywhere.

At around six months, babies start to eat extra cooked rice that is very soft, made in a pressure cooker. It is often cooked together with lentils and light spices such as tumeric.

Baby Food

Starting about a month ago, occasional tea was also added to Precious's diet. He is truly a Nepali baby: he loves both rice and tea. Sometimes, in the morning when we're all sitting around having a cup of tea, he will whine until some is given to him as well. He drinks it quite happily and then will want seconds, and thirds. I find it most hilarious....


Building off of what Sarah Didi and I learned last month, Tory Boini and I have become quite proficient at Nepali cooking, and now can be trusted to make meals for the family almost exclusively by ourselves. I'll admit that the actual cooking is quite simple and easy to learn, but I do find it a challenge to control the fire and keep it roaring. Slowly but surely, getting the hang of it.

This month, we decided to try our hand at making some "American" food for the family. For our first "American" meal we made mashed potatoes, which were served with fried peas and cauliflower, and of course there was rice as well. Next, we attempted to make Mexican/American-style burritos. They turned out really well! The tortillas weren't too difficult, we made them in the same style as Nepali roti/chapati bread, except bigger. Fried some vegetables, made our favorite "ochhar" which is essentially pico de gallo, and added some leafy greens on top. That last part was the strangest for the family, as Nepali people seem to NEVER eat vegetables raw, except for maybe onion and tomato, but certainly not leafy greens.

Adventures in cooking

Although they took very few of the uncooked leafy greens, the family seemed to really enjoy the burritos. They even requested that we make them again the following week!

Martha Boini and Amma trying the strange foreign food
More food adventures to come...


Tory Boini is a lover of piercings so for her 21st birthday decided to have our neighbors (who have many ear piercings themselves) add a view more holes to her ear. We first came to their house for the piercing in the late afternoon, and they instructed us to come back in the morning, when it is colder and better for piercing. I had been considering getting a new hole myself, but they said that since the weather is getting warmer and the rainy season is coming, it is not a good time. Winter season, when it is dry and cold, is the time for piercings. We explained that Tory was going back to the US in a few days, and that it is cold there. They found this acceptable.

Sarda, with freshly washed hair, pierces an unafraid Tory
I'd been expecting it to be difficult, but the piercing was really as simple as just sticking a needle (cleaned with boiling water) into Tory's ear. It was quite smooth and she said it didn't hurt much at all. The only slightly difficult part was getting the earring in after the needle was taken out of the whole. The villagers would usually put a string in after the needle, and leave it in for three days before putting in an earring. But Tory opted to skip the string.

Needle In
To clean the fresh piercings, Sarda applied a mixture of tumeric and cooking oil.

What will the next month of village adventures hold?

1 comment:

  1. I feel ike I have my own photographer from National Geographic here.