Matador Community member Will Manley spent nearly 100 days living, teaching, and photographing in rural Nepal.
WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF MUD BRICK houses and a government run school, Dulal Village doesn’t often catch the attention of curious travelers.
But not long into my stay in Dulal Village, it was evident what impact the village and its residents were having on me. My own mindset shifted toward the village’s Thoreau-like contentedness with simple living. Seven months down the track, back in the consumer driven throngs of Sydney’s North Shore, I am reminded even more of the lessons learned from my times in rural Nepal.
[Note: Matador editors selected this Community blog post for publication at the Network.]
7am in Dulal Village, Nepal
Farmers let their livestock out to graze; essential morning Hindu rituals are complete.
An evening meal with my host family
The Dulal family (which shares its name with the village) consists of 9 members from 4 generations. Here, my host parents, Raju and Shova, stand with 3 of their delightful kids: Pushpa, Anjali, and Ayus. With my basic grasp of Nepali and their limited English skills, it proved to be an interesting first meeting.
Puspha and grandmother
Puspha Dulal looks on as her grandmother harvests the excess parts of the corn plant to be used as animal fodder.
I celebrated my 22nd birthday whilst living in Dulal Village. Not only was I blessed enough to receive a full traditional Nepali / Hindu birthday celebration put on by the elders of the village, but I also received many beautiful hand made birthday cards and presents. Close friends will testify to my geeky love of home made, drawn, greeting cards. The kids, I have to say, pulled it off rather well.
Contractions and conjunctions
At Shree Mahankal Primary School, Susana and Manisha perfect their grammatical contraction skills in my English Class 4.
Making their way home
Woman in the village make the journey back to their respective houses after clearing out weeds and overgrown grass from their fields.
Nepal's monsoon is as routine as farming work for the residents of Dulal Village. Almost every day during the months of July, August, and September, Shree Mahankal Primary School's field receives a drenching.
Being left handed in Nepal poses a slight problem. Though seen as a sign of enormous good luck in some Nepali circles, among many Hindus, eating with the "impure" left hand is seen as an insult. With cutlery not commonly used outside of tourist restaurants, I took up the challenge and coerced myself slowly to eat only with my right hand. This particular endeavour involved a generous serving of Dal Bhat, Nepal's national meal, eaten twice daily. Prepared kindly by my host grandmother using locally sourced ingredients, it's rice, lentils and assorted curried vegetables -- and on festival nights, maybe chicken or goat, too.
My star pupil, Susana
For my teaching placement in the village, I was given the opportunity of teaching 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old local students English six days a week. Here, Susana practices grammar in front of the class.
The yearly corn harvest is in full swing in the Tukucha district.. The men of the village complete the daily harvest requirements, carrying more than 50kg of corn down in each basket from the family's upper fields. It is then either stored inside or added to an outside storage tower.
Kathmandu in the distance
Kathmandu, seen in the distance, past Dulal's corn fields, is approximately 2 hours away by bus. Many of the resources needed in the district are sourced here, as well as in neighbouring Bhaktapur and Banepa.
After almost 100 days of living and working in Dulal Village, it's time for a teary goodbye.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Will Manley is a Digital Media graduate & freelance
travel photographer. When not residing in his home town, he enjoys wandering the
politically sensitive streets of Tibet, gracefully falling off motorcycles at speed in rural Laos & hitchhiking in cattle trucks across Indian sub-continent borders. He also blogs much of his travels & thoughts here.