Krishna and I always talked about me visiting his village in Nuwakot and meeting his family. Finally that day came during my recent visit, when I was lucky enough to learn a little about village life in Nepal. I spent two nights there and was truly moved by what I discovered. A world where time almost stands still, families are truly connected, and people are genuinely happy with very little. Village life in Nepal is not about ‘more, bigger and better’. It’s about family bonds, self-sufficiency, maintaining traditions, and living in the moment.
Hiking up to Krishna’s Village
After our trek in the Langtang Valley, we took the bus to the cross roads at Betrawati. After a hair raising bus journey from Syabrubesi, I opted to hike the steep three hour climb to Krishna’s village, rather than taking another bus!
Our hike took us past the school of Krishna’s family. We arrived just in time to meet his son, nieces and nephews for their daily 45 minute steep, uphill walk home to their village. The children, dressed in school uniforms, were excited to chat with me in English or just smile!
I didn’t know what to expect from village life in Nepal. Krishna’s standard of living had likely improved over recent years. I also knew about the April 2015 earthquake. It damaged all the property in the village and killed three people. Naturally, construction would be an ongoing effort.
Village Life in Nepal – Another World
What I discovered was another world. Village life in Nepal is far removed from the way of life we take for granted every single day. Krishna and his three brothers all live very close to each other, with their families. I found an incredible sense of community there. Everyone came out to meet me, and family members called on each other constantly throughout the day and evening. Always chatting over a cup of their favorite masala tea made with buffalo milk from their own animals.
The village itself, perched on terraced farmlands overlooks a beautiful valley, and Langtang Lirung (7,227m/23,711ft)! Watching the Himalayan view unfold at dawn, slowly lighting up the valley and the mountain, was a truly spiritual experience.
Village life in Nepal is spent outdoors. The houses have windows but not windowpanes and are used mainly for cooking and sleeping. The toilet is outside and the only cold water tap, served by a pipe from a natural spring in the forest, is outside too.
The adults have mobile phones, but these are the only technological distraction. The children are always outside, playing and running around. They seem very happy – they’re not missing iPads and computer games! They proudly took me on a ‘tour’ of their village, up to their tiny temple, mill, and vantage points beyond. Practicing to be trekking guides of the future!
All the families in the village are self-sufficient. Each grows their own crops including potatoes and rice. They keep chickens for eggs and meat, buffalo for milk (and eventually meat) and goats (usually to sell as they bring a good profit). Everyone has everything they need to eat well, and boy do they ever! Dal bhat is the staple and we enjoyed a huge plate of it, twice a day. In fact, I just couldn’t eat as much as Krishna and his family! It’s a stark contrast to three decades ago when Krishna’s Mother had no food at the time she gave birth to him.
I keenly observed Krishna and his wife Parbati preparing food. They have a portable gas stove, but prefer to cook over the fire pit on the ground in the corner of the kitchen, because ‘the food just tastes better’. I watched Parbati using a perfectly oval, smooth stone to smash and grind fresh ginger, garlic and dried chilies into a paste on a wooden board. They explained that the stone had been passed down from Krishna’s Father and had been in the family for more than 30 years. Krishna cut up the vegetables in his hand using a curved knife like a mini scythe. He explained that using a chopping board would be faster, but they prefer to maintain the traditional ways of doing things. That’s why they don’t introduce gadgets to save time and ‘make things easier’.
Time is certainly something they have a lot of. Without the distractions I’m used to and my ever growing to-do list, I found time passed very slowly in the village. Everything was at a relaxed, easy, non-stressful pace. Krishna explained that there’s never any great pressure. Even when the farm is busy, if something doesn’t get done, it can always wait until tomorrow!
A Taste of the Monsoon
The weather in the village is generally good and reasonably mild. However the first morning I woke up to heavy rain! I got a true taste of the monsoon as I watched villagers running around covering hay supplies for the animals. A huge bolt of pink lightening filled the sky, lighting up the valley. It was really cold that morning and we all sat around wrapped in blankets. The monsoon must be a really difficult time for the village.
Everyone I met made me feel really welcome. Krishna’s Mother cooked a dal bhat for everyone when I was there. When I left, they held a surprise puja to bring good luck for our new business venture.
I took gifts and toys for the children in Krishna’s family, which they enjoyed. Yet I couldn’t help feeling a little strange bringing new and shiny things to this village that functions arguably better than our society, with a lot less. I walked around with my camera, but I was conscious when taking photos. I never wanted to come across like the rich, white visitor taking photos of exhibits.
In two short days, these beautiful people taught me so much about what is truly important in life. It’s not about all the stuff we have, or how busy and important we are. For me, it’s about our ability to live in the moment, nurture our connections with others, and our love and respect of nature.