While we have a large network of people in Nepal who include us as if we were family members, call us Didi and make us feel like we have an extended family, we also have a family in our very home who are extra special to us.
They live on the ground floor in our shared house, where they run a small shop selling everyday items and basic food such as rice, tomatoes and eggs. The family also keep chickens and turkeys on the roof terrace!
Our Nepali family consists of four core members; Binita, Dinesh, Sanjana and their newborn baby Bhoraj and as we are included in family events we feel like part of the greater family as well. We now wish to introduce our core family here in Putalibzar:
Sanjana is our precious little sister, a 13-year-old who loves to laugh of our fear of spiders. This brave little girl has no problem with killing them or tease us with plastic spiders or pretending to see one. Since the first day we have not called her anything other than Bahini, which means little sister in Nepali, and she goes in and out of our apartment as she wants. She is continuing to lean knitting from Guri, and Svanhild helps her with homework from time to time – and all the things she teaches us are many more than we can explain here!
Dinesh is the father of the family, and local to our village Gumti within Putalibazar.
He spent eleven years working for an ice cream company in Qatar in order to earn money that could be invested in building the house we currently live in!
During the very busy orange season he also works long days transporting oranges to the nearby cities so that they reach there early in the morning.
Binita is the mother of the family and although we call her Didi (big sister) she acts like a mother to us as she looks after us and often shares tasty Nepali food for us to try.
If we are ill she will offer care and ask for updates on our health, she kindly teaches us many Nepali words to improve our communication and explains local customs. When invited to our neighbours marriage ceremony she even attended it with us – and helped us dress up in saree!
When we first moved to Putalibazar Binita was in the middle of her second pregnancy, and just last week she gave birth to her second child! We were most thrilled to meet the new family member, and wish we could be here for the traditional (first) rice-feeding ceremony which happens when the baby is 6 months old. Our new Bhai (little brother) did not have a name until today, as it is given eleven days after birth. It was done this morning in a ceremony by a priest who decides the name, writes it on a leaf that is rolled up and then used to tell the name through to the baby.
The selection of the name is based on the month, time of birth and position of the stars – and is considered to be a mathematical and astronomical calculation based on the childs horoscope.
Therefore it is a priest, and not the parents who gives the childs official name. Still, parents sometimes gives another name, or a nickname, and do not have to choose which one is official until the child starts school and must register it officially. Yet, the given name is always used for religious ceremonies such as marriage.
We have to share that our time here in Nepal would not be the same without them and the thought of leaving (until next time) is already difficult.