Memorable Trip of Nepal
Year 9 student
King Edward VI Academy
My eyes felt heavy. As if they were forced shut. My ears kept on ringing and my legs felt numb. I didn’t know how long it’s been or how long I have left but all I knew was right now everything was hurting. I forcefully opened my eyes and for a quick second, everything went from jet black to neon, bright white. I looked around me and everyone was either asleep with their seat belts fastened or watching a film or hoping that they were goanna land soon. Turns out I was doing all three of these things, as I’d dozed off again and in my deep slumber, I was thinking about landing and getting off the plane but from time to time I’d always be interrupted by either explosions or dialogue. It wasn’t until I woke up that I realised, I left the movie playing and the headphone still on my ears. So my little “interruptions” were simply just from the film that I’d forget to turn off.
Every fond memory I had of Nepal or anything I could recall or even remember was exactly the same that I was taken aback, as we were driving past the main city and saying bye to the airport I looked outside the window. Nepal reminded me of how much I was stuck in my small town and that I really couldn’t see anything outside of it but Nepal helped me see the bigger picture. From the crowded houses stretching all the way from the airport to my maternal grandparents' house in Kathmandu, Kalanki, to the busy roads, as the cars honked their horns to the motorcycles sneakily driving past the traffic. Everything felt so familiar but yet so distance as I’d been gone for four years. I was so in touch with my culture but yet miles away from it, but this trip would help me reconnect.
We stayed at my grandparents' house for the night then we set off to our final destination which was Chitwan, Bharatpur but before that, we visited New Road which has endless stalls, which are like mini shops, from shoes to painting which takes hours to make, New-road really has it all. Even a shopping mall inside one of the restaurants. We then picked out necklaces and earrings in a nearby shop for me and my cousins. While we were paying I heard a voice saying my name, I ran out of the store and I saw my cousins. I rushed over to give them a big hug. This was the first hug we’ve had in six years and let me tell you it was long awaited. As the only time, we could talk and really “see each other” was on Face Time and it’s just not the same. I hugged my aunt and uncle and it was just a really special moment. As I thought to myself even oceans can’t keep us apart. After all the “introductions” were out the way we then went over to pick out our fabrics and designs for our dresses. We took this seriously for a couple minutes then we just got back to making jokes and really just talked. I’d never been so happy and in the moment. There was still more cousins on their way so the thought of that really just made this whole thing so worth it.
After a couple of hours out and about in New Road,
We hugged everyone and “reintroduced” ourselves as it’s been forever since we’ve seen them and for some of our family members it was our “first time meeting” as even though I’d already met some of them, it’s been 10 plus years since that, so it basically makes us strangers right ? After we’d “settled” (or tried too anyways) we were just so tired that we went straight to sleep, expecting to when we wake up for the rest of our cousins to be there or so we thought...
Turns out in Indiana America there was heavy snow so their flight was delayed and it ended up being cancelled too, so they would actually arrive tomorrow. So the whole day we stayed at home and helped prepare for the main event which was the ‘Saptaha Mahayagya’ Puja, we also just all catch up and talked and again made jokes we thought were hilarious. After a little while towards the afternoon most of our family members arrived thus the puja had officially “started.”
The days of the Puja went by and every day was like the one before but with some slightly different songs and people but more or less the same. The first couple of days, I mean in fact throughout the whole thing, all the eyes would be on us as if we were vulnerable prey and all our relatives were eagles circling us around and eyeing us and we walk by. They would smile and gesture at us to come. They would ask us questions like so who’s daughter are you? ...etc and they’d be like “you have your dad’s nose” “you look like your mum” or like oh “you’re the eldest daughter of the eldest son” and so on the list goes.
Days went by and I can only tell you the routine of the puja from me as a child, what my parents and the other relatives and cousins coming in every day was like well you’ll have to ask them yourself but for me it was waking up earlier than what I’d like seeing all my cousins in one room some awake, some on their phone and some snoring made me smile. After we’d either shower and get changed and arrive at the puja and quickly (well run) upstairs avoiding the crowds at the garden for when the puja had already started. We ate our breakfasts fairly quickly which was usually Nutella and bread well until that ran out that is, then after we would have either cereal or warm milk to really fill us up. We would then have no choice but to get changed from our comfortable Pj’s and into our jeans and T-shirts and then off we go again to greet everyone downstairs and then to scarcely run away like cowards as if we were scared sheep running to our shepherd.
Every day was like the same but each memory different like when I met my two cousins from Australia, one was clearly outshining the other as he would run around, make jokes and really just get excited (no surprise there he was the youngest) the oldest, however, was quiet and shy and he looked really unhappy and I don’t blame him coming from Australia I knew the jet lag must’ve been crazy also he had never met us. I knew for me and my cousins it’s been a while but we still texted, FaceTimed and we’ve met twice before. For him, it was all new. It was like when you start your first day of school and you’d walk around the playground trying to make conversation with whoever that looks your way but this was far worse. This was more intimidating, as we were family we had no choice but “to get along” like at school when your put into a group and you have to engage with the others around you this was the same thing. But this group was for life.
I’m exaggerating sure but after the ice cooled down and we got past his barrier we actually all had a laugh with him. He made jokes and asked us questions and I found out I had loads in common with him from the YouTubers I watched and to the overall sense of humour. We all had the same sense of humour which is why no matter if anyone puts us in a group or tries to separate us, remember blood is thicker than water and for us we are related by blood and not just the Name we share (well technically speaking we don’t share the name, well apart from me and my other set of cousin from Indiana do but the ones from Delaware have a slight change with the letter “a” being used instead and my Australian cousins having a completely different last name, despite that small detail yes.)
When my cousins from Indiana came later than we anticipated because of the snow well me and my other cousin, Opalina (the one from Delaware) we weren’t there to see them first. Well, actually none of the cousins was as they came after we left to go to a different house to go to sleep. So we left at around 11 and they came 5 minutes after us so we just missed them and in the morning, I and Opalina needed to wash our hair so we stayed behind. Thus the rest going to see the cousins first. After me and Opalina showered and headed back home, we saw our cousins and rushed over to hug them and again just caught up and officially everyone was here including our other cousin, who is also from Indiana, Ankit so the three A’s joined us finally so Apala, Anuva and Ankit and also a new addition (quite literally) Anaga who is 2 years old making it the 4 A’s. I never got the chance to see her and let me tell you she was the cutest thing. She was Apala and Anuvas baby sister and the similarities were uncanny. Ankit also has a baby sister (Ava) but she didn’t join us as she was just a newborn and neither did my aunty (so his mum) as she was too tired after giving birth and had to look after the baby but Ankit’s dad did join us, so almost all my aunties and uncles were here.
Another thing you might notice is how every cousin and their siblings have the same letter name, so let me explain so my “one set of cousins” from Delaware all their names began with an O so Opalina, Ojas and Orisha and my other cousin from Indiana have A so Apala, Anuva and Anaga and my other cousins who also live in Indiana (actually a street away from Apala, Anuva and Anaga) also has an A, so Ankit and Ava. My Australian cousins also continue on the same pattern, so their names both begin with an S, so Sugum and Sumyum and we then finish off the pattern, so mine and my sister's name both starting with P, so Prerana (me) and Prema.
A week went by well close to a week and our day was here, so we have something called a “Gono Choli” which is for girls so a day dedicated for so like a huge celebration and for boys, they have something called a “Bartabanda” so basically the same thing but again for boys. They are both gonna be on the same day and the “Gona Choli” is actually a fairly new concept which my grandpa agreed too and even put on the invitation (yes we really had innovations and special greeting cards which were printed out in a velvet red card under a golden print/ writing, yes we really did go all out.)
The day of the “Gona Choli” arrived and the nerves were even higher than on the first day of the Puja, we went out in these piercing, scarlet velvet red tops and our bright red skirts which had small flower designs carefully printed out equally and we even wore a golden headpiece. We wrote fairly less makeup but we all had lipstick and our hair straightened. We stepped in our red shoes which had a golden design of roses and petals at the centre which matched our flower design of yellow and red which was on our skirts.
The moment we all stepped out, yes all 6 of us, we hit the garden with a burst of couloir of royal red and bright yellow. All eyes were on us. I was smiling throughout as this whole thing, I found hilarious. It felt like we were all celebrities stepping out on the red carpet but instead of walking onto the red carpet, it seemed like the red carpet was on us. All eyes were only us and everyone smiled and cheered as they got their phone out like paparazzi (see I told you we were celebrities) and if on cue a professional photographer took our pictures well two of them actually. Oh did I mention we hired photographers and even several videographers to capture this special moment throughout the puja to then edit and make into a short movie? Yes, we were doing that, I wasn’t lying when I said we really went all out.
Anyways, all eyes were on us and so was the lights, as if the sun wasn’t blinding enough. It was a beautiful day and the sky was clear as if the heavens were opening up just for us. Nepal is known for having good weather but today just had the golden hour and good lighting at every hour. All the aunties and uncles signalled us to come into their photo as they took our photos. We were all just overwhelmed. Wherever we walked, I could feel the people eyes on me as if we were tourists with binoculars and shorts (well we were like tourists well we sure did act like it) but today was completely different, we actually managed to look like “Nepali girls” but the traditional kind and fit into the expectation and Mold they had out for us. I felt proud to be Nepali.
After all the photos and compliments, we then walked over to the furthest point of the garden which had a massive tent. Like the ones, people hire for big scale events which hold hundreds of people in. Ours was pink and red and really went well with the surroundings. There were stacks of chairs around and we sat down on the ones already placed down as if for us. We were then photographed up close, individually and together. We were the stars of the show and after leaving the tent and returning back we all really felt it. We always were the “stars” and got all the “stares” even without the “traditional clothing” even on the first days but today it was different. A different kind of stares.
After a little while, more people came, and the stares were still high. Then finally the two boys came, Ojas and Ankit and they wore jus their causal clothes so their T-shirts and shorts. I looked at them, in jealousy, wishing I could wear my “normal clothes” as the scorching sun made it hard for us to wear these but yet these items of clothing gave us a status. They were like the armour you never knew you needed. When we walked around in these all eyes were on you, I think I could wear these for a little while longer as even though at times it was intimidating, it was more refreshing and made you feel important, like you special and had to be there and especially in a crowd of 100 plus that really does boost up your confidence and self-ego maybe even for the better. Ojas and Ankit were under another tent which had to be a made separately and around the fire. There was a priest who recited scriptures and helped them with their “ceremony.” After the scriptures were done they were then taken to the side of the garden where two seats were waiting and a barber on standby it was time for their hair to be “cut off” well it was more of a “shave” but besides the point. At first, Ojas wasn’t a fan of his “new hair-do” but quickly seemed to like it. Ankit had no trouble and was smiling throughout, he really looked no different as his hair had always been quite short. Ojas looked different but his hair was quite long before, so this was needed and he suited this “buzz-cut” look.
After a little while we were told to sit down on these chairs in a line in order of the oldest down to the youngest so opaline was at one end as she was the oldest and Orisha down at the other as she’s the youngest and from Opalina it went me (Prerana), Apala, Prema, Anuva and then Orisha. We waited for a little while and was told to put our hands together in a “pray” like position. Then an aunty came with a plate full of “Tika” which is really some uncooked riced which has had some red dye put in it which then they put on our foreheads they then gave us some blessings and asked them if they remember them and asked whose daughter we are then after the “Tika” and the flower petals they placed on our hair they handed us a white envelope which had money into it. We thanked them and held onto the envelope. Straight after another aunt and uncle came and done the same thing with the Tika and the envelope this happened all at once about 6 times and we all looked at each other in confusion. We had no idea what was going on and why they were giving us money. This happened again about 15 times and at this point, I was giggling to myself still in complete shock and bliss.
The envelopes soon stacked up in my hands and my aunty gave all of us plastic bags to put the money in. The bags were quite big and wide and the envelopes were quite small. I didn’t expect them to even be filled half way but there I was with my bag and them almost being half filled and still a line of people waiting. 30 sets of people came then about 15 then again 20 and angina 50 each one having an envelope sometimes even 2. The Tika on our foreheads was staking up and some pieces were even falling off. I was surprised by the end of it our hairs wasn’t a garden of flowers. After I thought we finished still a tsunami of people flooded there the way in there was no pause or break. Every second there was a new “Namaste” and another thank you being passed onto the next cousin and again another envelope being put into the bag. This was so overwhelming but the smiles on our faces say it all. I just couldn’t hold in the joy. Neither could any of my other cousins.
After an hour, our smiles soon whore off but we still put on a smile as we didn’t wanna come out as being rude or ungrateful but in reality we were anything but ungrateful we were just tired of sitting down and greeting everyone, I just wanted to stretch out my legs and walk around but alas we had to carry on. Photographers came and took even more photos and it got to the point that our parents and aunties told everyone to stop putting Tika on our foreheads as it wasn’t getting uncomfortable and too much but we had some “rule breakers” and the Tika kept on coming, but still we all smiled on. The money was stacking up and I lost count and my bag was almost full. Full? Yes, there was hardly any space and like I said the envelopes were small but yet they were staking up so high that the bag was over filling and I could see rips starting to form.
Finally, after all the envelopes had been given out I can confidently tell you I must have greeted around 300 people plus and have sat there for 3 hours. When it was time for us to stand up. I struggled to do so and my legs were numb and filled with pins. I stretched my legs quickly and walked off. We saw Ojas flexing off his “bag” which was more like a sack and was 10 times bigger than our bags and he told us it was filled with money. We gasped in shock as the sack was almost as big as him but later we found out he was just kidding and the sack actually just had rice in it but he did get more money than us and so did Ankit which they deserved as they did both get their hair “shaved off” which me and my cousins said we wouldn’t do for any of this money. We all laughed at our joke and so did the adults.
The hours stretched into long tiring days and it soon became time for us to go and leave Nepal as if you were on some sort of time lapse and we were simply charterers in a forgotten game.