Usually, the journeys I do for work lead me to Norway, but given that the Norwegians responsible for this particular project all are resident engineers in Nepal, that’s where I ended up this time. My job was to follow up the installation of some equipment we delivered for a hydropower station.

The first thing one usually assoiates with Nepal is the Himalayas, the roof of the world, reaching higher up than any other place in the world. Although the place I stayed was not even 100 km from Mount Everest, I found myself spending most of the days underground in a hydropower station. This is the reason why I can offer you only a very small choice of photos, most of which are from Kathmandu. For the same reasons, I don’t have many tales to tell you from Nepal, just a few odd bits and observations… A bit more is to be found at some of the photos.

 

Some facts about the country:

Nepal has roughly 27 million inhabitants and reaches from the Indian Ganges plains at not much more than sea level up to Mount Everest at 8848 m. Nepal has a very diverse culture of different ethnic groups (Thakalis, Tamangs, Tibetans, Sherpas, Rais, Limbus, Newars, Gurungs, Magars, Bahuns, Chhetris, Tharus, to name the most important) and religions (Hinduism and Buddhism). Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, most people living from agriculture. It is a typical monsoon country with the dry season from October to May and the wet season from June to September. If you are interested in more information about Nepal, the Internet is at your disposal…

 

The team:

The team that went with me was very mixed – three Slovenes, two Croatians, two Bosnians, one Serbian. The communication was very interesting, as I do not speak any of their languages, and only two of them can speak English. If none of the English speaking guys was around, a few bits of Italian and German and a lot of hand signs did the trick… Most of the Nepali I met could speak English very well.

 

Traffic:

The streets between the major places In Nepal are quite good, if a bit narrow and rough. People drive like crazy, but are very clever finding their way through other cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, animals… But, as I was told, if a car runs someone over, people try to kill the driver and burn the car…

 

People everywhere:

I could already see it from the airplane approaching Kathmandu: Nepal is bustling with people. There’s people evrywhere, even when you think no one is around in the forest, you can be sure that the next person is not more than 200 m away. Everywhere we went, houses could be seen everywhere. Well, houses… Mostly it was poor and shabby huts, but the people were always very well dressed and very clean, especially the young ladies in their colourful dresses were stunningly beautiful.

 

Food:

The Lonely Planet Nepal claims that “generic Nepali food is distinctly dull”. In the first couple of days I wondered why, as the food tasted very good and was varied. As we were lodged on the power station camp, we were cooked for by Nepali cooks and could taste the real Nepali food, which was always good. Yet, if you eat nothing else but dal bhaat tarakari (bhaat: cooked rice, dal: lentil soup, tarakari: curried vegetables) twice a day, you soon start craving for pasta and for a good steak…

One advice in Nepal is vital: don’t drink the water! The water we got was filtered, but one day the drinking cups were not completely dry after washing up, resulting in four of us having to go to the bathroom very often and eventually see the doctor.

Naturally, the very first thing we did after our return to Kathmandu was to go to the nearest Italian restaurant (which turned out to be the best one in Nepal).

 

Democracy:

On 28.05.2008, we discovered that it was a sudden holiday because of the constitutional parliament session. The holiday was declared only the day before and should last three days… All because it would be officially declared to the King that he has to leave the palace within 14 days. Nepal has become a pure democracy that day, and it was a particular feeling being in the country on that day, seeing the Nepalese celebrate on the street in the little village and writing a welcome greeting to Democracy on the street. On the other hand, it is interesting to note how the news about this were known to my colleagues in Europe before I heard it from the locals in Nepal…