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60 Things An American Learned From Living In Nepal


The cultural wonderland, oceanless nation of Nepal has completely captivated me like no other country has before.

I express it quite a few times in several posts. It’s really got a hold on me–even with its faults. A beautiful country, but also dirty in some aspects. The citizens are friendly, although they like to save face and don’t always tell the whole truth. They may have zany superstitions that some locals will admit, holds them back from progressing, but I still love them for it. It’s gotta be the people, above all else that continues to compel me.

I’ve lived in Nepal (Sarangkot, Pokhara mostly) long enough, on and off over the span of three years. I now feel that I can give solid, personal opinions and facts about what I learned from living there.

60 of them to be exact, off the top of my head:

1. I noticed most Nepali will make a long ‘e’ sound in front of several nouns that begin with the letter ’s’. So instead of simply saying words such as star, spray, or school—many would instead pronounce it as “e-star”. “e-spray”, and “e-school”. Not sure why they do this but I told the students and teachers there to knock it off.

2. On the notion of spelling, Nepalese are HORRIBLE spellers when it comes to English. Take a walk around Kathmandu or Pokhara and I bet you will find a hundred misspellings across their signs, posters, menus, advertisements, etc. But…

3. They have the neatest, cleanest, most satisfying penmanship I have ever seen. They legit could be a new font family.

4. They literally have dal bhat (lentils, vegetables, and rice) for breakfast (or in their case lunch) and dinner, every day of their lives. Thankfully, it tastes amazing!

5. Arranged marriage is still a thing, but it’s not entirely enforced. Speaking of…


6. It’s common to never have a girlfriend or boyfriend throughout their lives. Many just simply wait to get arranged to someone and then boom–three weeks later, they’re married…

7. …And then it’s custom for newlyweds to dip their feet in a bowl of water, which then immediate family members must come and take a sip from it. Ew! I went to a wedding once, worried I would have to do this. Amish informed me that only immediate family has to do it. Thank the Lord!

8. It’s typical for Nepalese to drink a tiny spoonful of cow urine when they are ill. They don’t do it often, but most of the locals have done it at least once or twice.

9. If you ever visit a village in Nepal, be prepared to have the most tea you’ve ever had in your lives. Usually either black or milk tea. Sometimes ginger tea as well.


10. Snickers, Oreos, and Kit-Kats are all the rage to Nepalese children.


11. Nepalese are super friendly, BUT they don’t always tell you the whole truth and I found much left important information out when I needed it.

12. They eat their dal bhat with their hands. It weirded me out at first, but then eventually I preferred using my hands. Weird. Strictly right hands only though. Their left hands are for poopy purposes…catch my drift?


13. I’ve had many cakes over many different birthdays in Nepal and they all taste the same–damp, spongy, and bland as heck. I always tell them how much their cakes taste like shit compared to most Western countries, but they just have no idea. Most will never know. They look like they taste great, but they never do.


14. The men (and some women) in Nepal are OBSESSED with Clash of Clans, an app for touchscreen phones. They also got me hooked on it, unfortunately.

15. Everyone has crappy Samsung phones that are always cracked and beaten up.

16. The electricity ALWAYS goes out unexpectedly and at the most inconvenient times.

17. Soon after puberty, boys have a special Bratabandha ceremony where they must completely shave their head, except for a small patch on the back, and essentially become men. This means they are now able to get married. I’ve attended three while I was there amongst all of their friends and families. It’s a huge deal.

18. Nepalese constantly wash their feet.

19. Transportation is always a nightmare. Traffic is congested. There’s always construction. There’s always dust. Many roads are unpaved. Since Nepal is a mountainous country, vehicles are constantly twisting and turning, sometimes just inches away from a cliff.


20. Speaking of construction, constructing anything usually takes freaking FOREVER.

21. It is common for people to pass out sweets to all of their family and friends on their birthday. When my birthday rolled around, I had to pass out sweets to the entire school!

22. Red tikka on your forehead is a sign of a blessing and good luck. Red tikka and rice on your forehead is usually something extra special. Yellow tikka on your forehead means you are mourning the anniversary of the death of a loved one. Women may have a red mark at the top of their forehead which means they are married.


23. Many children in Pokhara sway back and forth when they are studying. I asked them why they do this but none of them gave me an understandable reason. Some weren’t even aware that they do it. They just do.

24. Most of my sarcasm flew right over their heads. Only the ones that knew me best eventually learned the art of sarcasm.

25. From personal experience, I never worried about any locals mugging me or stealing any of my possessions. As a matter of fact, whenever I lost something, they returned it to me promptly. I didn’t realize I lost my wallet one day until a student ran to my home after school and told me he found it on the road. And there was so much money in there. Very trustworthy people when it comes to personal belongings.

26. Nepalese are generally peaceful people. They usually do their best to avoid any confrontation.

27. I’m friends with a shit ton of Nepalese on Facebook and 80% of them don’t use their real names or their own profile picture. I’m always confused as to who messages me. Also, they always tag me in photos that I’m not even in. My friends at home let me know that they are constantly seeing photos of Nepalese people on their newsfeed because they are always tagging me in them.

28. Flies are an issue during the warmer months, but it didn’t bother anyone as much as it bothered me. So pesky! There were spiders everywhere too, but they were harmless.


29. Nepalese are ridiculously superstitious. I was once told I couldn’t bring a group of students back home from a trip on a certain day because it was bad luck. I was informed this AS I was already bringing them back home. I brought them back anyway.

30. I’ve noticed that the education isn’t as engaging as many developed countries. A good amount of it is simply just copying and memorizing everything word-for-word.


31. The Nepalese-English alphabet song is almost identical to the American one, except they repeat the letters “l-m-n-o-p” and “x-y-z” twice throughout the song. I’m still baffled as to why.

32. Everyone always refers to the uncles on their father’s side of the family as “paternal uncle” and the uncles on their mother’s side as just “uncle”. Whereas we in the US refer to both sides as simply “uncle”.

33. They have sooo many holidays/festivals, with Dashain being one of the most auspicious ones. Around 40 of them, with some lasting for several days! They celebrate evvverrrything.


34. It is super common for Nepali to find “deep” random quotes pertaining to life, in English somewhere from the internet, and then post a photo of themselves on Facebook with that quote as their caption. They all do it. Some prime examples:




35. Nepal CANNOT do desserts properly. On a side note, there is NOTHING German about their so-called “German Bakeries”. Actual Germans would consider them a true disgrace to their own famous bread bakeries.

36. Teaching a Nepali kid from the mountains how to swim is like teaching a rock how to fly. This requires tons of patience. They are mountaineers, not swimmers.


37. If a Nepalese considers you a brother or sister in their country, then they usually mean it for life and will make an effort to keep in touch, no matter the distance.

38. Many of the students have long hikes up and down the mountain to get to school six days a week, yet you won’t ever hear them complain about it.

39. Eating off of someone else’s plate is not a thing here and is considered unclean. I once accidentally flicked a single grain of rice from my plate onto little Aakash’s plate and he was completely disgusted and pushed his plate aside.

40. Although many taxi drivers have meters in their cars, most of them will say, “it’s broken” and then you must negotiate a more expensive price than what it should be.

41. It’s fairly common to see babies and toddlers in Nepal with a black dot on their forehead. A black dot on their “third eye” is for protection against evil spirits.


42. Everyone has really amazing teeth.

43. Normally when I want to show a single photo on my phone to a local, they always proceed to casually take the phone from me and then start going through ALL my photos. Always.

44. Unless you go to a western style accommodation, the shower is never separate from the rest of the bathroom. Thus, when you take a shower, the whole bathroom gets completely soaked.


45. Nepalese never end a phone conversation properly. They just hang up. No “bye” or “Talk to ya soon”. Just “click”. At least with all of the phone calls I’ve had with them.

46. Many of the students don’t know their birth dates. That’s because they only know it according to their own Hindu calendar that they share with India and not the Gregorian calendar that is widely used internationally. As of this post, it is the year 2074 in Nepal.

47. Nepal and India share a love/hate sibling rivalry type of relationship, very similar to the USA and Canada.

48. It is common for the youngest male child to never leave home, in which they take over once the parents have passed. The daughters traditionally always move into the homes of their new husbands to help tend to the daily housework and taking care of their husbands’ parents. It’s kind of a crappy deal for the women, but its been tradition in Nepal for a long time now. Slowly, that tradition is becoming less of a thing as younger generations continue to break the mold.

49. I am considered a god in Nepal. Guests and visitors to Nepali homes are treated as such.

50. Get used to local prices vs tourist prices, just like many other countries. However, the differences aren’t as ridiculous as they are in India.

51. Nepali “like” EVERYTHING on Facebook. You can post a blurry photo of your armpit and they’ll “like” it.

52. The major touristy parts of Kathmandu and Pokhara are full of cover bands. You’re likely to hear a multitude of bands play the same freaking songs, night after night after night. I don’t ever want to hear “Hotel California” or another Red Hot Chili Peppers song again! Bob Marley gets a pass.

53. Fast wi-fi is not a thing in Nepal.

54. Nepali bob their head sideways when they mean to convey ‘yes’. This confused me for the longest, as I interpreted it as an “Eh…”. Kind of like a shrug. Their side to side head tilt signifies more of an ‘okay’  than a sure-fire ‘yes’. I found myself tilting my head whenever I said yes even after leaving Nepal.

55. I found that Nepali women are generally uncomfortable with shaking the hands of men and to an extent, hugs. Whenever I go for a hug to one of my host mothers, it really is the most awkward thing ever. So now I don’t hug anyone anymore.

56. Nepali kids love Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean.

57. Nepali dancing is similar to India’s Bollywood dancing, except a lot more twirling and arm-flailing. My buddy Caesar and his sister Bindu below!

58. If a local Nepali calls a tourist “fat”, it usually is a good thing. It means you eat well. They don’t mean any disrespect.

59. Cows are their holy God, but the many cows roaming (and sitting) in the streets of Nepal are malnourished and always eating out of the trash on the side of the road. You would think if they were so holy, they would be taken care of a little better… Plus, it’s difficult, for me at least, to tell the difference between their buffalo from their cows.


60. Apparently, many different songs are played on the local buses, but they all sound exactly the same with what sounds like the same lady or dude singing in each of them. I challenge any foreigner to try to spot the difference.

If anyone, especially anyone from Nepal, would like to add some insight or combat me on any of these, feel free to let me know.

Nepal is far from being the perfect country…

…but it’s perfect to me.

Teaching Rocks How to Float



Once upon a time, my previous host mother, Mina, trapped me inside her home overnight so I could protect her family from ghosts.

True story.

Weirdly enough, this gave me the inspiration to teach some of the students how to swim. I know none of this relates nor makes any sense but it will in a moment.

While I was staying with Yam and Bindu, Mina asked if I could spend the night at her home with her family while Aatma was away on business, so I could protect them from the ghosts that supposedly haunt her house. These so-called ghosts used to be two women who worked for Aatma and mysteriously disappeared until their bodies were found days later; one floating in the lake and the other near the house in the bushes. Both dead. She literally locked me inside the main room overnight with her, the kids, and some of the neighbor kids, so that I couldn’t leave and so that the evil spirits wouldn’t enter. I wasn’t a fan of being trapped in a room with a bunch of kids all freaking night, but fortunately for Mina, she makes some of the best dal bhat in all of Sarangkot, so that was my biggest draw. But what about those women? They were the extra help that Aatma hired to help cook for all of the students he required to live in his hostel home during examination season. That one died from falling over into the bushes and the other supposedly drowned in Phewa Lake.

Locals drowning in Phewa Lake isn’t all that uncommon. I hear about it entirely too much, to the point where it doesn’t faze anyone anymore. Can these people in Pokhara not swim? It seems to be the general consensus. The Nepali are hardened rocks and mountaineers—not water-loving swimmers. After all, Nepal is completely landlocked with very few, suitable lakes to swim in. This one in Pokhara, Phewa Lake, is the second largest in Nepal…and it isn’t even that big. Although this is coming from a guy who grew up in Michigan, home of the greatest freshwater lakes in the world. But still. Also, these lakes are dirty as all heck.


Phewa Lake. The second largest lake in Nepal.

Okay, so Nepal sucks at swimming. How about my students and family here? I conducted a survey. I first asked my brothers, UK, DJ, and Bipin if they could swim. No. I asked Aatma’s kids. No. I asked the students in the older classes. Most of them said no, with one or two saying they could in each class. I was skeptical of those ones because the people in Nepal can be the nicest liars you’ll ever meet. I even asked the teachers. All of them said they couldn’t except for one. Most of these people have never been in water that went as high as their waists. It blew my mind! That’s when I decided to give crash course beginner lessons to several of the students.

Until a female tourist with extra money decides to take the girls swimming, they were all shit-out-of-luck with me. My focus was on some of the boys from the higher grades—eight, nine, ten, and then the teachers. Each weekend I would spend two days giving swim instruction to each class, starting with class eight, which was Amish’s class. I would only take up to five kids at a time, and I picked them out based on their class rankings (and if they got on my nerves or not).

I would start by reserving two giant, interconnecting rooms at the Pokhara Grand Hotel. The very first real hotel that most of these boys have been to. It’s the only place I could find with a deep enough pool and private enough so there wasn’t a bunch of people interrupting our lessons.


The Pokhara Grand Hotel

It would be like a two-day swimming camp. The boys were excited. Of course, two days won’t be enough time to properly train someone how to swim, but to get them comfortable in the water and be able to do SOMETHING they couldn’t do before was my goal.

I would begin with instructing stretching warm-ups in the hotel room and then acting out the resting strokes they would begin with, along with videos I found on YouTube.


Once we went outside to the swimming area, it dawned on me that these kids have never been in a pool before; only ridiculously shallow creeks that runoff from the top of Sarangkot.

“Don’t go anywhere near the 5ft mark,” I warned them as we entered the pool. I was responsible for all of them, as there was no lifeguard on duty.

Getting them comfortable was necessary first, so I let them play for a bit before we practiced our kicks.


I wanted to see if they could at least doggie paddle on their own, in which they couldn’t do properly.


I spent the remainder of the day teaching them how to do an elementary backstroke, one of the easiest resting strokes to learn as a beginner. Two of the boys started to get it, while the other three were absolutely hopeless. By day 2, one of the adept ones, Samrat, felt confident enough to do the resting stroke the entire length of the pool, all the way to the deep end. Once he successfully did that, he began to enjoy his time in the water, swimming back and forth with ease compared to the others. He was my quickest learner by far out of all the kids I trained.


I kinda gave up hope on the others, at least for our short amount of time. They just had no idea how to control their bodies in the water, so I just let them enjoy the rest of their time before the day was up. Believe me, I tried!

As for each of the following weekends, I took the older classes out, finally ending with the teachers. Most of the boys were just as hopeless as the first batch, but I found that the older the classes got, the more difficult it was to teach them how to do a proper stroke. Maybe it’s like learning a new language? The younger you are, the easier it is to learn because you soak up everything like a sponge. Maybe that’s the case? Even some of the teachers weren’t comfortable in 5ft deep water…It was amusing to me at least.

I’ve practiced with each group for hours and hours each weekend, with adequate breaks here and there. It wasn’t enough time and they definitely require one on one training, but it was the best I could offer, and probably the best training they will ever get in their lives. Swimming is simply not a thing in Nepal, or at least in Pokhara. This pool I found, along with the few other hotel pools in Pokhara are primarily used by tourists, not locals. However, I was proud of the handful who got a stroke down and left the experience tremendously more capable than they were when they started.


Stick to your mountain hikes, Nepal.

Angering the God of Education


I’ve spent the past eleven months, hopping all over the world. I’ve been having fun, but…

I hit a wall right around Ukraine and haven’t fully recovered to form. I’m mentally exhausted. You would think, walking across an entire country (Spain) would give me time to return back to my adventurous flair, but it wasn’t enough. If anything, it made me antsy to return home. But not home home, but rather to Pokhara, Nepal. I can’t say it enough—Nepal has occupied a giant chunk of my heart. That’s why I felt the desire to go back there for a while, before I continue on this quest to the seven continents.

Once I arrived in Kathmandu, my people in Sarangkot were messaging me like crazy! I swear I only told a couple of individuals that I was coming back, but it just goes to show how fast word spreads in the villages of Sarangkot Hill. I took a bus the next day to Pokhara where I was greeted by my “son” Samir and his fellow classmate Bishal. They came all the way down the mountain just to welcome me. I’ve trained them well.


To celebrate, I took them out for milkshakes and then to my local favorite reggae restaurant, Buzz Cafe. Later on, one of my Nepali brothers, UK, came down to welcome me. It’s only been three months since I last saw them, but as soon as I did, I knew I made the right decision in returning. I felt at home.



I taxi’d up the always-horrible roads up to Pandeli, one of the many villages in Sarangkot. It was now the rainy season and the roads were more beat up and muddier than before. Nearly impossible to drive through. My driver had to drop me off about half a kilometer early, because it was impossible to drive any further. As I walked down with my bags in tow, a little boy shouted out from a distance, “Give me sweet!”. I cringed. I recognized the boy from the school in Pandeli I taught at before. He’s the same kid who always and only asks me for sweets and nothing else. Not even a single polite ‘namaste’. I take a little blame for that. I may have bribed the younger classes a little too much with sweets in order to get them to calm the heck down. But I swear that one day, I will give him that “sweet” he consistently demands from me, except I’ll wrap a piece of cow poop in a candy wrapper and give it to him. If that doesn’t stop him from asking me, then I don’t know what will.

I walked down the muddy paths into Pandeli, with kids and random villagers saying hello and wishing me welcome upon my return. I walked half of the way basically in a small stream. This exact path was completely dry just three months ago! Not only that, this mountain was a lot more jungly. So wet. So humid. So muddy. Everything, taken over by green. Below, Phewa Lake was larger and darker than before. This version of Sarangkot felt more alive. It was a welcoming sight.



I normally stay with Aatma and his family, but this time I opted to stay with his brother Yam and his family; just for a little change, even though they are just a seven-minute walk from each other. Bindu, Yam’s wife, came to welcome me along with my other Nepali brother, DJ. Yam came a little later and helped settle me in. I then explained my prospects to them.


Yam and his wife, Bindu.

I usually come to Nepal with an agenda. The first time, almost three years ago, I came as a naive volunteer to help teach English at a primary school. The second time, in January 2017, I came back to fulfill a promise I made to the older classes. That promise was to take them on a field trip that they wouldn’t have to pay for. We did that and we had a lot of fun. This time however, I came with the purpose of just absorbing the culture even more and of course helping out at the school. Only I vowed I wouldn’t do anymore field trips. I took the students on a boatload of big and little trips last time, which my bank account showed for. Not this time.

Soon after settling in, I went down to Aatma’s to visit and noticed he expanded his place even more! He’s now built another kitchen and he made my old room even bigger! Where is he getting the funds to do all of this? The whole family was there: Aatma, Mina, Amish, and little Aakash. All except for Aatma’s teenage daughter, Amisha. “Where’s Amisha?” I asked. “She’s staying down with our uncle because she’s menstruating,” said Amish.

Oh, let me explain this.

So, if you’re a female on your period in Nepal, you are considered “unclean” and must be away from the rest of your family members. You can’t touch them, can’t even be more than a few meters away at all times. It’s especially worse when it’s their first time on their period. They are cast aside, essentially locked inside another room, far away from where the family resides. Like in a shed or something. They can’t even read or study while menstruating or otherwise they will upset the god of education among their many, many other gods. It’s totally superstitious, just like many other zany Nepali superstitions I’ve encountered here over the years. I’ve heard about this the very first time I came to Nepal, but I’ve never witness it happen, until now.

I visited Aatma’s neighbor, the home of Abishek, one of the class ten boys who lives just a couple minutes away.


Abishek and his classmate, Bhuvan.

As usual, I was greeted warmly and with black tea by his family. Normally Abishek’s mother or sister are the ones who serve me tea, but since they were on their menstrual cycle, they weren’t allowed to be anywhere near the kitchen. I found it amusing and rolled with it as Abishek did all the kitchen handling while the females kept their distance. Amused by what was happening, I casually began to whistle random tunes without thinking, and as I did, the two women of the household began speaking to him in Nepalese. I could tell they were speaking something about me.

“Dan, they are saying not to whistle,” Abishek told me.


He just smiled and it seemed like he couldn’t explain. That’s when I remembered someone telling me that whistling attracts ghosts or something like that.

“Oh, the ghosts,” I said, with a slight hint of mockery.

I began to whistle even more, just to see how they would react. All they did was attack me with smiles and laughs whenever I did.

Abishek lived just below my good friend, and fellow teacher, Shree Krishna (Caesar). I wanted to pay him a visit. As a matter of fact I would have seen him by now, but he’s been MIA. According to some of the talk of the villagers, the reason I haven’t seen Caesar yet is because of a plague of bad fortunes, accidentally committed by his mother and sister-in-law.


Shree Krishna (Caesar) and me during my birthday celebration last February.

“Did you hear, [Caesar’s] mother and sister crashed their car into a cow some days ago?” they would tell me.

“Ummm no?” I said

“It’s very bad.”

Very bad indeed. A cow is considered their sacred god…and they rammed into one that was standing on the road (which is actually pretty normal in this country)! From what I gathered, a string of bad luck was on its way to the family of those involved…which meant Caesar himself. Caesar’s brother, Arjun, took a motorbike to Kathmandu to follow respected Hindu figures…or something like that, to relieve their family of guilt, perhaps? Since then, Caesar’s mother has been suffering greatly from a serious lung cancer and since he is the only available one in the family, he has been escorting her back and forth to the most capable doctors all around the central lands of Nepal. After a couple weeks, I finally met up with Caesar at his home, which is about a fifteen-minute walk from Yam’s. But unfortunately, it was brief. While I was there, he received a phone call from Kathmandu telling him that his brother Arjun and his wife were involved in a near-fatal motorbike crash. Caesar, who JUST got back home to settle, had to rush all the way back to Kathmandu, to tend to his brother and his wife. While at the same time, Caesar’s mother still had pending operations where she needed Caesar to escort her. She was too old and fragile of doing it on her own.


Caesar constantly traveled back and forth about six hours each time between Pokhara and Kathmandu to tend to his brother and mother. Photo courtesy of Caesar.

I’m not superstitious in the slightest, but it is all a bit strange how all of these unfortunate events are happening right after they hit that cow in the street. By the way, Caesar’s family extends into Yam’s. Bindu is Caesar’s and Arjun’s sister, which means my brothers, UK and DJ, are their nephews. I don’t expect anyone reading this to actually follow the family trees of this village. It’s mostly for my own admission. Poor Caesar couldn’t catch a break. He had to leave his position at Bal Prativa Boarding School in order to support his ailing family.

Caesar was the maths and science teacher at the school. He also spoke English the best out of all the teachers. Sarmila, the usual English teacher I followed, was on maternity leave. It seems I came at a time where there were many gaps to fill at the school until Aatma could replace their two most qualified teachers.


A photo of most of the staff at Bal Prativa Boarding School, the school I help out at, taken last February. Three of the teachers have left, leaving a major hole in the student’s education.

I always enjoy having my own classes, but sometimes it can be a bit overbearing with the language barrier. The students generally understand me when I speak slowly enough, but then there was always a handful of students, forever lost in the cosmos. Also, I’m calling them out right now, Bal Prativa is full of sneaky little cheaters! It’s examination time (again) and it’s my role to act as a class officer to make sure everyone keeps quiet and doesn’t cheat. It’s way more difficult than it sounds. I had to pretend to record them on my phone and show it to principal Aatma if they continued talking.


I came to the conclusion that the majority of these students cheat, some more than others, and there was very little I could do to stop it. The other teachers weren’t too persistent about it. Once I came to that realization, I just let them be. It’s Nepal.

I didn’t realize how daunting the school situation was going to be this time around. Class ten will be studying for their major exams soon and they were without three of their teachers. The third one took up a job in South Korea doing God knows what. Aatma and Ashok (another teacher) relied heavily on me to continue where they left off from their books, not just with class ten but also with class nine, eight, seven, six, and sometimes five, four, and three, teaching English and Social Studies mostly. Then sometimes they’ll have me dabble in Science and Accounting. What the heck would they have done if I decided not to come back to Nepal so soon?! I gave it my all.

At this point, I still have not seen Amisha nor Caesar, though I have been in contact with Caesar at least. He has been busy, staying bedside at the hospital in Kathmandu, taking care of his brother and sister-in-law, because they were unable to do so themselves. They couldn’t even walk! That’s how bad it was, but Caesar remained diligent in handling the tasks between them and his ailing mother.

Whoever this “god of education” was, he or she put a massive workload on me, which I wasn’t expecting. Now, I don’t believe in any of this stuff but while in Nepal, I roll with it out of respect to everyone there. When I brought it up in class, one student told me that maybe the god of education sent me to Nepal to help while there are no other teachers.

“Maybe…”, I began. “But I think it’s just pure luck.” 

She along with others began to snicker and say things to each other I couldn’t comprehend. It’s no secret to them that I don’t practice Hinduism, like most foreigners who visit this country, but it’s important for me to remain respectful and go along with it.

If anything, the god of education and all the lore that goes with it certainly does make life in Nepal interesting for me. Even the cattle have gone mad.

For better or for worse…

How I Grew to Truly Love The Heck Out of Nepal


I wasn’t ready to leave Nepal. Nor did I want to.

I’ve been here for the past three months–much longer than I originally anticipated.  I must continue my quest for the seven continentsI had to leave soon though, mainly because my 90-day visa was going to expire.

While in Nepal, I never once felt like I was a traveler. Instead, I felt as if I lived here, minus the fact that I didn’t know the language. I was picking up words and phrases to get me around. Still, I felt so at home, that I forgot at times that I was in the midst of a worldwide adventure. The people here were so accommodating, so caring, and so interested in me and my stories; it felt like I was part of a giant family. I already mentioned that I gained a few Nepalese brothers recently. It’s a great thing!

I spent my last couple of weeks absorbing the culture in my village to the max! While doing so, I was able to share the rich experience with a new friend by the name of Miek (Belgium). She was referred to me by a mutual friend who lived in Australia. Basically, I was recruited to show her some authentic culture outside of the bigger cities, and I was more than happy to do so.

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Samir and I went to retrieve Miek down in Lakeside to meet and introduce ourselves. One of my student’s father, Hom, joined and escorted all of us back to the mountain and to his home with his family. Hom’s home was initially ruptured by aftershocks from the earthquake that shook Nepal two years ago. Overtime, gracious travelers he’s met has helped him build a brand new home for him and his family–his gracious wife Bishnu, and his two sons, Sudip and Susan. They made a dal bhat supper for us and then invited to stay the night with his family.

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The next day, I planned on showing Miek more of the village. I took her a little bit up the mountain to my brothers’, UK and DJ, and then over to Aatma’s home, where she would be staying a couple of nights. I was able to show her not only the private school that I taught at, but also the neighboring government school. Although I didn’t teach there, I created a bit of a friendly rivalry with the school, much thanks to the Holi holiday that came and went. I had the free reign to enter the school much to my liking. If you are a native English speaker, then you are a valuable necessity to any school in these parts.


We went to the nearby shop (where I often frequented to buy water and snacks) to introduce Miek to some of the best samosa’s around. We still had plenty of time in the day, so I took her 40 minutes up to the very top of the mountain, Sarangkot, to explore.

Now, Sarangkot is quite different from the rest of the village. It’s way more touristy and filled with half-completed hotels, dozens of shops, and local restaurants and cafe’s. Some of the students actually live up here with their families running some of the shops and hotels. We visited two families, one who ran a hotel and the other who ran a small shop. Both families were extremely welcoming with teas. We were welcomed with so much tea, that sometimes we had to decline. The people here are so giving and happy to invite.


The next day, we walked about 30 minutes in the opposite direction to visit several more families. By the way, all of these families that we visit are families of students of mine. Many wished for me to visit their homes and often times, the parents would ask me to stay the night. In the USA, or any other Western country for that matter,  it would be rather weird to stay the night at your students home but here it was completely normal, especially since I wasn’t a “true” teacher, if you will. Also, the generic vibe here is more of a family-feel than anything. My home is your home.

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We visited “my son” Samir and his mother who was hard at work. I helped them out a bit.

Soon after, we went to visit my other brother Bipin and his mother again, just a little down from where Samir lived. There, Bipin’s mother cooked us potatoes and made more tea. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much tea in one day. I never wanted it, but they would always insist.


I was able to take Amish and two of his closest friends down to Lakeside for the weekend to treat them a bit before I prepared to leave the country. We did a lot of cool things that they’ve never done in their lives before, like bowling, going to the movies (in 3D), and drinking Oreo milkshakes, and playing video arcades. They’ve never done any of that before! I was a little surprised by that.


I let them pick the movie (Boss Baby) which has become their new favorite movie. It was a hit for them!


Class 10 who I initially didn’t care for two years ago, won me over by a landslide this time. I felt like I really got to know them individually. I will miss them.

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Not only them, but practically the entire school, including the younger classes.



Miek came at a perfect time. I was able to say my goodbyes to all of the families and the students to let them know that I must continue on my trip and I promised I would return sometime in the future. I really did mean that. I found a home here.


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A few of the teachers pitched in and surprised me with a cake on my birthday.

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I was dreading leaving. I was finally able to stay in one place for a long time and in doing so, got to know an entire community. They got to know me as well. The multiple families, the neighbors, the students, the teachers, even the dogs and cats that roamed in the same area. All of the students knew me as the teacher who introduced a lot of fun (and English oriented) games. It was a different feeling. I really did feel at ease here…like I would at home. Even more so than at my real home to be honest. I could rock up to this village at anytime point in my life, completely out of the blue, and know that I would be well taken care of and welcomed…with tea!

It got me thinking.

Realistically, it would be a couple of years before I could return. And with that, life gets in the way so there are no guarantees.


It’s very possible that I can finish my allowed 150-day visa total in the summer (I initially only applied for a 90-day visa)? Like say possibly in July or August? Wishful thinking.


Back to Kathmandu

One the way back to Kathmandu, I stocked up on cheap medical supplies (motion pills, cough drops, aspirin, stuff like that) and nabbed a cheap hotel for the night. My flight to the next country on my quest, Tajikistan, would be the next day!


There was one “small” problem I was unaware of that would completely change the course of my next couple months of traveling…


(I shall explain on the following post)

How I Gained Three New Brothers…and a Son in Nepal


Let me introduce to you my three new brothers: Yubraj, Dhiraj, and Bipin.

How did that happen? I’m not exactly sure.

My Australian friends have left Nepal, including Hamish who left a couple weeks back. Now that I was on my own, I made more of an effort to get to know the village and the surrounding villages on the mountain that I lived on. Since class ten, whom I lived with, were contantly studying, I found myself bored at times. So I frequently visited the neighbors homes, specifically Aatma’s older brother Yam Thapa, who lived closer to the private school I taught at. Yam has two sons: Yubraj (UK) and Dhiraj (DJ), who honestly, make for better conversation than Amish and Aakash who are a lot younger.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

Yubraj, 18, but more commonly referred to as UK.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

Dhiraj, 16, but I call him DJ because I couldn’t remember how to pronounce his actual name for a solid month!

Overtime, I became pretty tight with them. Even staying the night at their home on several occasions by request from them and their gracious mother. Yam liked having me over because I was a valuable asset as far as having a proficient English speaker around to help UK and DJ hone their English-speaking skills.

Over time, I’m not sure how, but the two boys started referring to me as “dai” which means “big brother” and they told me to refer to them as “vai” which means “little brother”. Even their parents and the village began to recognize our newfound brotherhood.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

Back home, in America, it’s not uncommon for friends to sometimes refer to each other as a “bro” or “sister from another mister”, kinda thing. But here in Nepal, I found that when you call someone who is not biologically related a brother or sister, it holds more credence.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl


In Nepal, whenever I ask students how many brothers or sisters they have, their answer would always include their close friends or non-immediate relatives that they personally consider a brother or sister, in addition to their actual biological siblings. And it’s not just a thing the kids do, the adults do this as well. Some of the teachers consider some of the students as siblings too. At first this confused the heck out of me when I began to think that the whole village was somehow legitimately related to each other, but turns out that is not the case. Still, if you are considered a brother or sister to someone in the village, its taken seriously–for life. I was now UK and DJ’s brother, which I will take solemnly.

I messaged my mother and informed her she had two new sons. She didn’t question it, instead she wished to send them a gift (which is difficult because as far as I know, I don’t think mail or postal service is a thing here in this village).

Over time, I gained yet another brother by the name of Bipin. He was a former student of mine, two years ago but since then he has switched to a more prestigious school in Pokhara in order to challenge his studies. He was an academically bright student and Bal Prativa was a cake walk for him. But of course, the more prestigious school costs a heck of a lot more money, and the people in these villages aren’t exactly making it rain with cash. Bipin needed help.

Me spraying Bipin with snow spray, more than two years ago in December 2014.

Back in November (2016), while I was backpacking in Australia, Bipin sent me a message on FB messenger telling me his predicament and that if I could send him $50 to help him with his tuition. I’m always weary of people I don’t know that well asking me for money (I didn’t know Bipin too well at the time), especially over the internet, and more so from a developing country. As much as I wanted to help him, I wasn’t sure how to send the money to him. They don’t have PayPal and I doubted a Western Union-type service. I never met his parents either so I wasn’t sure if I could trust them. I told him I would have to think about it and eventually he stopped asking. So that was that.

Fast forward to now, four months later, I went to visit Bipin and his family about thirty minutes walk from Padeli. I reunited with him and met his mother who playfully only knew how to say “I am Nepali. No English”, whenever she spoke to me.

“Where’s your father?” I asked Bipin.

“He’s working in Malaysia.”

Bipin hasn’t seen his father for two and a half years, which means its only him and his mother working alone on their farm. The moment I arrived, Bipin’s mother made me lunch and continued working nonstop–sweeping, washing clothes, tending to the goats and buffalo, picking vegetables, and even found time to make me tea much to her insistence.

Both invited me to stay the night, which I agreed. Their home was a lot more primitive than Aatma’s and Yam’s. Bipin and his mother shared one giant room which served as their bedroom, their living area, and their storage. I didn’t mind it. Bipin was humble about it all and went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable and constantly apologized for the lack of Western luxury available. I told him not to worry. I was just fine. Still, Bipin didn’t mention anything about the money he asked of me four months ago. So I brought it up before we went to bed.

“Hey Bipin?” I asked.

“Yes, Dan?” (They always same my name in every other sentence.)

“Were you ever able to pay for your tuition? Remember when you asked me in November?”

“The principal agreed to let me pay the months tuition later in a couple months,” he began to say. “It gives us more time to come up with the money.”

I felt guilty that I couldn’t help him at the time. But now that I was here in person, I could lend a hand. I took out my wallet and handed him Rs 7000, translating to roughly $65, which was enough to pay for about five months worth of tuition fees.

“Here,” I said as I handed him the money. “Use this towards your education.”

He was speechless and appeared genuinely appreciative but didn’t quite know what to say.

“Make sure you tell your mom later,” I told him.

“I will Dan.”

The next morning, Bipin and his mother insisted that I stay with them for another night. I couldn’t help but to oblige.

He and I became brothers before I eventually left his home. He then asked if it was okay to add my actual brothers back home in Michigan, Steve and Matt, as friends on Facebook. I said sure but I had to inform them prior, so they didn’t think it was some random stranger requesting their friendship. They both gladly accepted him.

Now let me explain the whole “son” thing…

I’ve grown pretty tight with the class ten boys who lived with me at Aatma’s place. I made an effort to usually spend time with them before bed time and speak with them, casually in English. Of the five boys, Samir’s English was not up to par with the rest. In fact, his was a bit behind for his class level. I concentrated on speaking to him a bit more.

Samir, 16, the most innocent, yet most oblivious to the world compared to the rest of the class ten boys.

Samir is the most naive and juvenile of the boys. He also is around me more than his other classmates and usually wants to play with my phone, hence why I’ll find selfies on it later on, like these:

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

I barely remember Samir from my previous visit in Nepal two years ago, because he never said a word to me (also because I usually avoided their class). This time, I can’t keep him away from me 😂. Nowadays, I have grown fond of Samir because he’s actually a really good kid. As in he is very protective of his friends, he’s family oriented, and he just means well overall. It’s just that his English kinda sucks. I’d teach him new words and constantly correct his sentences and if he didn’t know a word, then I pushed him to try his best to explain what he meant. I also made him practice English before I gave him my phone to play with. The other boys began to notice how “fatherly” my actions were towards him and jokingly began to tell Samir to “listen to your father”. It wasn’t long before Samir began to call me “father” all the time and I eventually would jokingly call him “chhora” which means son in Nepalese (I think). It stuck with us for the rest of my time there.


Once he even asked me, “How do you kiss a girl with your tongue?”

I almost died from laughter!

I told him, “You’ll just naturally learn on your own soon enough.

Samir’s father is also working internationally, and won’t see each other for a very long time.

Overtime, others in the village began calling me ‘brother’ besides UK, DJ, and Bipin. I’m sure it may just be a thing to call one another that here or if these people are considering me family. Whichever the case, I am completely happy with both possibilities.