Latest message from Megan and Alan Barker in Nepal dated 16th May.
We have been helping our daughter and her fiancé to arrange their wedding. It's a little complicated as it will stretch over the course of a week in the summer with two ceremonies in two different counties. One in the UK and one in Switzerland, as her fianc6 is from there. The biggest problem has been the guest list. Who to invite to what? Who of our family will go to Vevey and who will come to the ceremony in London? We're a bit tight for space in London, so numbers are limited, which has caused quite a bit of arranging and rearranging and not a little angst!
Our juggling with numbers on the guest list contrasts sharply with the approach to weddings here in Nepal. There's no such thing as a guest list as such, as everyone is invited! Recently, we were invited to the wedding of a sister of a work colleague. We know neither the bride nor the groom, but that doesn't matter as there's an open invitation to anyone from the office. The wedding in question is a Christian one but it's the same at Hindu weddings too: everyone's invited! Over the years we have been invited to the weddings of many people we don't know but who are relatives of friends from work or church. Often too, it's not just an open invitation by word of mouth, such as, "You can come along if you like," but we get a full formal written invitation, even from people we don't know.
Christian weddings start with a church service, which is followed by the wedding 'bhoj' (feast). Usually family and friends attend the service but everyone comes for the bhoj, which consists of a buffet-style meal with an unending supply of rice and various vegetable and meat curries. There is a constant stream of guests at the table and the people preparing the food are continuously busy for several hours until the last guests have gone and no one wants any more food.
Hindu wedding ceremonies are usually only attended by close family and friends with everyone else attending the bhoj. We've even been to weddings where, not only did we not know the bride or groom, but we didn't even see them! They were involved in a part of the ceremony or even hadn't arrived yet! But no matter – sit and chat to
friends, enjoy the bhoj and then leave! It's perfectly OK and even expected.
Safe to say we're not going to try that approach in London or Vevey!
Greetings from Pokhara. The monsoon has just started and its raining so hard I can hardly hear anything else. We have to leave the doors and windows open to keep some cool air flowing but it doesn't help with the noise!
In this blog Megan thought she would take you with her on the cycle ride to work
As I left the house this morning and set off down the road on my bicycle, a few thoughts struck me. Most of which would come under the title of 'don't do this at home'! Or, 'a different kind of normal'.
First of all, I had to negotiate my way past a cow grazing in the lane that leads out of our house onto the main road. She looked at me as if to ask why I was getting in her way!!
Then, the road was quite busy, so I did what I normally do: turn immediately right i.e. down the wrong side of the road (traffic is on the left as in UK) and just gradually drift across to the other side as traffic allowed/ moved around me. Quite normal practise here, but definitely don't try this at home!
A few speed bumps and pot holes later, most of which I have learned to avoid or at least hit at the least painful place, I came to the even bigger road which I cross. It is the main road into Pokhara. Full of buses and trucks, tractors and motor bikes. Now, if I behaved as I would at home, I think I would never get to work. What I do is slowly nudge out and move across as gaps open up, first one side and then the other.
Pray that we quickly readjust and definitely do not try this one at home!!
Before you think otherwise given what I have said above, I must tell you that I enjoy my morning ride to work. Not least because it is pretty much down hill (coming back at the end of the day is less fun!), but mostly for the people I wave and nod to as I go. Now familiar faces sitting outside their homes and shops to whom I smile and say good morning.
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