Monday, May 27, 2013

In a cottage in Nepal

For our final week in Nepal, we rented a cottage on the edge of the Newar village of Sankhu, a small village about 17 km north-east of Kathmandu. In the countryside, overlooking a lovely valley of terraced rice fields, it was the perfect place to relax after trekking and yoga training. We spent our days reading, doing Sudokus, preparing blog posts (no wifi here!), doing yoga, walking in the rice fields, and cooking. It was the first time on the entire trip that we had a kitchen, and it was very exciting being able to cook for ourselves again! We walked into town almost daily to get fresh veggies and supplies, and always seemed to be the talk of the town, since not many tourists come to this small village. Locals would smile and heartily return our namastes and then try to get their shy children to say it back. I love Nepal! The people are so friendly. Walking along the cobblestones through this charming, tumbledown village to so many warm hellos and smiles was a joy.

The cottage is owned by a man in the Netherlands, but he employs a local man, Suraj, to take care of things, and he would bring us fresh eggs daily, and sometimes tomatoes and fresh ghee. He came over one afternoon and showed us how to prepare dal baht, and we had a fun afternoon preparing and cooking it together. It made more than the three of us could eat, so I prepared a big platter and brought it over to the elderly neighbours, who we see out in the fields every day, bent to their task.

That evening Suraj invited us to his home for dinner, which was a humbling experience. His simple family home was his father’s and his grandfather’s and is still shared by his extended family. While we sat on the porch drinking coffee that is saved for guests, goats nibbled into the potato sacks, while the children ran around playing with each other and watching us with interest. We sat together in his tiny, earthen-floor kitchen, while his wife made chapatti and a potato curry over the small, indoor fire-pit. The low ceiling above us was thick with black smoke and soot from 70 years of cooking fires. His young daughter charmed us with her cuteness, and we fell into a game of her saying sounds for me to repeat, which sent her into fits of giggles. The whole evening was very special, and again made me wonder why we isolate ourselves in such massive houses in North America, where there are more rooms than people.

Once when we were outside tossing a Frisbee (around puddles, bits of garbage, and a rooster head), a young boy ran over to join us, then ran off and dragged his sister over to join, followed shortly by another sister or a cousin. It alternatively devolved into a game of monkey in the middle between the three of them, and chase the stray disc and tackle each other. Whenever Mark or I would catch it, they would shout “auntie [or uncle], come onnn!” which then became “sister [or brother], come onnn!” as they clapped their hands and gestured wildly for the disc. We said goodbye after a bit, so we could make dinner, but they ran back to our cottage later hollering for us to come out and play.

A cat comes around the cottage every day, who we took to calling Mr. Mollassey for some reason, and he is quite a meowly sort! Most of the time he would just cry for a while, then settle down and sleep outside the door, or wander in and sleep on the rug. But he could be a bit crotchety, and we had to shoo him away one afternoon after he nipped at both of us. But the cat came back the very next day, and continued to sleep on the rug.

Riding the local bus back to Kathmandu at the end of the week, it was so crowded that I ended up with a toddler on my lap for half the trip. At first he seemed quite unsure, eyes welling up and lip quivering, but he settled down and ended up falling asleep. I wish all buses were always that crowded.

Mr. Mollassey.

Most of the time he would sit on the rug.

Fresh, local veggies from the market.

Making dal baht with Suraj.

Mmmm, potato, cauliflower curry.

The cottage has a lovely view over the fields and valley.

Sankhu village

In the market they use a system of weights and balances to weigh produce.


  1. your pictures are incredible!

  2. You answered my question from your last blog about making dal and so I hope we can sample it when you get back. It looks wonderful. We bought a Dragon Fruit yesterday and it was a nice reminder of our mornings in long ago! Love Mum & Dad

  3. what an absolutely adorable little cottage! And a sweet little nippy kitty!
    I can hardly wait for you guys to come back and COOK FOR US! Yum!

    In that photo with the very ornate windows....I wonder - did they build the windows in to the brick, or did they lay the brick around the windows??!

  4. What a fun and relaxing time - hanging out in that cute cottage, cooking local food!