SO YOU HAPPEN to come across this brown individual at a party or at the mall and you start making guesses about where he or she is from. The worst way you can start off your interaction is by asking them if they are from India. Not a “So, where are you from?” But a direct “Are you from India?”
You’ve learned how to piss off a Nepali already. Although an incredibly laid-back lot, we can at times be quite sensitive about people’s assumptions or understanding of our country, and our nationality. Being sandwiched between two massive cultures doesn’t help — many an ignorant soul thinks Nepali culture and ethnicity is purely a mix of Indian and Chinese.
Here are a few more things you can say to further piss off someone from Nepal.
“Where is that?”
Just because you suck at geography, we have to go through a list of ‘Did you know?’ facts about our country to give you a sense of where in the world it is. If you know Mt. Everest, you should have probably put in the effort to look up where it is.
The point is that when it comes to our country and our nationality, Nepali people are, in general, a proud bunch. And when you tell us you haven’t even heard of the place or don’t know where it is, you’re bound to incite a frown or two.
“Oh Naples, of course!”
If you want to go one level higher, this would be the jackpot. Fake that you know what you’re talking about and then burst that bubble by telling us you know of a city that’s not even one of the best known in Europe, and think that it’s actually a country.
“Oh so you must have climbed Everest.”
Yes, Everest is in Nepal, but not in my backyard. And not all of us are Sherpas. In addition, it takes years of training and around $50k to ascend the highest mountain in the world.
In fact, a good number of Nepali people have never even seen Everest (thanks to the number of other massive Himalayan mountains that block our view), let alone climbed it. Would you assume someone from France or Italy must have summited Mont Blanc?
“So you speak Indian.”
Hindi, you mean. It’s called Hindi. And no, we speak Nepali because we’re from Nepal. The two are different languages even though they use the same script. English and German aren’t the same language just because they use the same alphabet, now are they?
“Buddha was from India.”
It’s a matter of grave distress to Nepali people when you mistakenly proclaim that Buddha was born in India. Yes, he did gain enlightenment and did most of his important work in India. But don’t make us take out the history books, or demand that you go to Lumbini in southern Nepal to visit the birthplace of the Enlightened One.
“So, you’re Buddhist.”
Over 80% of the population of Nepal is Hindu; only around 10% are Buddhist. But we might give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, because Buddhism and Hinduism are essentially the same religion in Nepal. Gautam Buddha was Hindu himself and is considered an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.
“Momos…aren’t they the same as Chinese or Japanese dumplings?”
No! Dumplings may have been invented somewhere in the Far East. They might have come into Nepal through Tibet in the north. But they were perfected in Nepal and they are called momos. We will not even consider anything else for an answer.
These out-of-this-world delicious dumplings come with a sauce that’s even better and can be found basically anywhere you go in Nepal. Try them and your taste buds will be caressed by the rich flavors of the momos till all your tongue wants is more momos.
“It must be freezing over there.”
Yes, we’re situated among the Himalayas. But not all of Nepal lives at extreme altitudes. The southern parts of the country are as low as 300ft above sea level and can get plenty hot.
You’re gonna look pretty dumb in your winter coat on the back of an elephant in Chitwan National Park. This article was first published on September 25, 2013.