Friday, August 26, 2011

love letter to Okhlepani

oooooooh man.

I feel like writing this blog post is going to take solid hours because of all the adventures I've been lucky to have experienced in the past 3 weeks.

First, meet Okhlepani.

This village is in the Lamjung District of Nepal.
It's population count is about 40.
It takes less than 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other.

...and you're walking through canals in between rice fields. They are about the width of your foot, and it takes some serious concentration to not pummel down to a death-by-rice-field ending.

I lived here for 16 days, and it was definitely an experience.

I was traveling here to get video footage for a project Choice Nepal is making to show at the Choice Gala in September. I went with Chandra, a Choice employee, and we had a little tag along photographer named Kusal.

Okhlepani is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, but it wasn't an easy journey to get there. Here was our travel itinerary.

Taxi ride to bus park :15 minutes
Wait for bus to leave:1 hour
1st bus ride: 7 hours
2nd bus ride (driving on a cliff-no exaggeration): 1 1/2 hour
Hike up and over a mountain in the pouring rain: 1 1/2 hour
Total: 11 hours 15 minutes

Saying I was happy to arrive is a big understatement.

We are making 3 video projects, each highlighting an area that Choice Nepal is working in, and a successful story in that area.

Every day we would hike to different villages or schools to do interviews or get other clips.

I was able to experience leeches, countless mosquito bites, monkeys in the jungle, and beautiful children and villagers.

Early morning breakfast in Okhlepani consisted of hot buffalo milk. After a few days they learned I would drink more if they put some sugar in it.
Then around 9am we would have a huge feast of rice, dahl, vegetable curry and pickled bamboo. I am being so serious when I say feast.
At 2ish, we would eat Kaja, a sort of mid day snack. Most of the time we would have roasted corn kernals, but my favorite was bananas, bread and honey straight from the hive. sooo good.
9pm: Dalbhat again! So much rice. and if I was lucky, jackfruit with warm milk.

I was fed well.

Then there was Sachi. Ooooh Sachi.

Sachi is the daughter of the family I lived with while there. She is 4.
She would wake up in the morning and first tell me how ugly my outfit was. So sweet.

Proceeding that, she would try and steal any breakfast food on my plate, and sometimes succeed in spilling my milk.

Sometimes her parents would take her to school, but it only took her a few minutes to find her way back to the village and follow me around all day.
Frustrated with the fact that I couldn't speak back to her in Nepali, her past time included hitting and scratching me, and pounding on my computer keyboard when she got the chance.

As you can guess, we became good friends and had a strong love/hate relationship.

...the love hate ratio was about 20/80. Haha.

I feel a little bad about this little venting sesh, so I'll end with saying that the one time I saw her asleep on my trip, she looked sweet in her dreams...

In Okhlepani, I was also given my Nepali name. An old man name Ishwori gave it to me while I was wearing my Sari (yes, I let 3 nepali women dress me up full blast for a festival. another story for another blogpost...).

It is Naakali.

He told me it meant beautiful but I have since learned that my name has multiple meanings.

One Nepali boy in Thamel told me that Naakali means that all the guys want me but I don't give any of them the time of day. Also that it meant I care a lot about about how I look.

hmmm...anyone that knows me, that can testify that I'm pretty lazy in the area of "dressing up." Haha. a ti-shirt, shorts and flip flops usually does it for me.

Someone else told me it means I like things extravagant and expensive.

I'm really starting to question whether that guy in Okhlepani was being friendly or not when giving me that name. It stuck though and everyone knows me by that now. Haha.

Okhlepani is truly beautiful. I was lucky to live there for a special few weeks.

I'm back in Kathmandu and busy as ever. I missed my people here, but I miss the clean air and relaxation in the village. I hope I will go back as soon as I can.

Namaste until next time.


1 comment:

Janna Hargadon said...

When are you going to post the video of you dancing??? Thank you for the blog post. Love hearing about the families of Okhlepani and about your interaction with them. J/mom