Peace Corps volunteer to teach science and math in the village school.
While there are more people and more buildings and the town has grown
in all directions, it feels not that different from when I first
arrived. The population has grown from about 4,000 to 20,000. I
recognize the main street intersections and temples that have been
here for ages.
As the bus from Lumbini entered town from the east, I spotted the
two-story building that I lived in during my third year here in
Taulihawa. I had two rooms -- one I used as a kitchen and bedroom, the
other as a meditation room. The building is currently being used as a
gas station and it looks rather run down.
We hired a rickshaw to take us to the home of my friend Dinesh
Gyawali. The rickshaw driver recognized my friend's name.
Dinesh, about 5 years younger than me, was a good friend, always
looking for interesting places to take me and people to meet. Now he
is married and has a son and two daughters. His eldest daughter,
Sumita was able to come to the US on a Diversity Visa two years ago.
When I mentioned to Sumita's grandfather that Sumita was "just like a
daughter" to us, he corrected me, saying, "No, she IS your daughter."
Sumita returned to Taulihawa for the holidays so the whole family was
together during our visit.
When Dinesh heard that we would be visiting, he decided it was time to
build a bathroom with a Western style toilet and a shower. So when we
arrived, workers were putting the finishing touches on a flush toilet,
a sink and a shower, (all outdoors) which required installation of a
water pump and a water storage tank.
The wiring definitely wouldn't pass inspection in the U.S. -- the
wires to the pump were connected to an extension cord with Scotch
tape, laid over the walkway and threaded through an open window to an
outlet. But it worked. Sort of.
The project was a wonderful gesture of hospitality. I'm just sorry
they had to cut down one of their two coffee bushes to make room for
Dinesh's wife Nirmada is a wonderful cook and prepared not only our
morning and evening meals, including different vegetables and chutneys
each meal, but various kinds of tasty snacks in between.
We celebrated the Festival of Lights which involves worshiping Laksmi,
the goddess of wealth and prosperity, setting up electric lights,
candles and butter lamps outside and throughout the house, and
watching groups of singing and dancing children who go door to door
offering blessings and collecting money.
We've been visiting lots of friends around town, having tea and snacks
at the homes of former teachers at Buddha Padma High School, and some
of my former students, most of whom have children of their own.
I thought I was going to wander about the market to take some pictures
one afternoon, but there are so many people here who remember me, and
want to visit, it became a sequence of invitations to come have tea in
people's homes. We already have more invitations for dinner than we
will ever be able to accept.
Former students still remember some of the science demonstrations and
experiments we did in the classroom-- the sodium metal in the pan of
water which sizzled and hissed as it skimmed across the surface,
vigorously producing hydrogen gas until the gas ignited with a loud
bang; the human skull we had found by the riverside-- apparently it
still peers out of the display cabinet.
Today we have moved to the home of Gopal Bahadur Singh which is where
I lived during the first two years of my stint as a Peace Corps
volunteer. Back then the home was occupied by an extended family that
included Gopal and his wife, their five children, both parents, and
two or three other relatives. Now the children have their own families
and have moved away. The parents have passed away, so now only Gopal
and his wife live here, along with a servant woman and her son.
We continue joining in the holiday festivities by going to the home of
a family member and Bhai Tikka where everyone blesses everyone else by
putting a dab of red color on each person's forehead.
We'll leave for Delhi on Wednesday (10/21) and start planning the
remainder of our trip.