The Expat Flat

We are settling in here in Kathmandu and for the first few days our world has revolved around our new flat.  To give a brief overview, I will again use handy bullet points to highlight some of the first few days adventures and mishaps of our new expat flat.

  • “We don’t speak Nepali, we only speak Rochester” says our 5-year-old to our neighbor who was asking him questions.
  • We experience ‘load shedding’ each day which is 3-4 hours without electricity to spread the electric load across the grid.  A tad bit inconvenient, but now we have a back up generator that will give us more than 15 minutes of power, so we are not entirely put out and there is always back up candles.
  • Speaking of load shedding, the Nepali restroom is something interesting.  The shower head sprays directly into the room rather than an enclosed space like western showers, so the bathroom is always wet.  It isn’t a really a problem, except for pant hems which either need to be rolled up or removed.  It is just kinda sloppy, like a college dorm shower room.  I just pretend I’m in one of those fancy marble tiled or out-door showers where you are supposed to be comfortable being naked in an open space.
  • We do have a western toilet, thank goodness.  Not that there is anything wrong with the asian toilet, which is a kind of trough in the floor with a hole at one end and traction pads on each side where you are supposed to put your feet.  I just imagine that it would have been like potty training our son all over again to use it and I bet it would be a popular place for our daughter to toss things as well.
  • We live in the middle flat with a Korean expat above us and a family with a young son behind us.  Our son has made instant friends with Suffol who is nine years old. I’m sure the sharing of a massive bag of hot wheels cars didn’t hurt either.  In a true demonstration of cross-cultural communication, our son has learned a couple of Nepali words and he taught Suffol how to sing Power Rangers Turbo.
  • We have hired Sarijana, Suffol’s mom and our back flat neighbor as our Didi (Nepali word meaning ‘big sister).  She will be our house help, cleaning and doing some Nepali cooking for us.
  • I’m really excited about the cooking part as I really enjoy Nepali food and I really stink at cooking here.  We attempted a nice familiar home recipe, pizza casserole only with a few substitutions for the ingredients. The mozzarella cheese, was completely unlike mozzarella from the states and had a flavor that was pretty close to motor oil.  There is no beef to purchase for consumption in mostly Hindu Nepal, so we gave it a go with ground buffalo meat. Dave had attempted to purchase either ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, however instead had bought vanilla yogurt or maybe lemon, it was hard to tell.  Another hitch in the cooking adventure is no oven in the kitchen.   In order to bake, you must use a “miracle oven.” The base of a miracle oven is an overly large bunt pan and the lid is similar to the top of a UFO in those old Martian moves.  You plop the whole thing on top of a burner and ‘bake’ I guess. So we threw the dish together with the modified ingredients and baked it in the ‘not-so miracle oven’ and everyone ate some. Not all that good, but then, not all that bad either for our first attempt at cooking.

So that’s the first few days at our flat! We have branched out beyond the flat and have had quite a few other hmmm, let me just call them, experiences around town that we will be sure to blog about soon as well.