Yes – the year here in Nepal is 2070! Monday, April 14 is actually the Nepali New Year, and 2071 will begin. I knew you would ask from what this time line dates – so I went to the fount of all knowledge – Wikipedia! The Nepal calendar is a lunisolar Hindi calendar dating supposedly from the mythical Indian emperor Vikramaaditya. The current year is 2070 B.S. (Bikram Sambat).
So – about 6 weeks ago we had the annual hospital bhoj (feast, party) on the upper part of the hospital compound. This is an all day affair – probably about 500 people come through to eat and enjoy the day. This is a gift from the hospital to the staff – numbering around 400. Retired staff who are still in the area are also invited to come back to be part of the day.
It starts early – the men with the goats show up around 6 am. At that time, all the goats are still living. By the time I arrived to help chop veggies, etc, at about 8 am, there were only 2 remaining standing, and the last one was crying loudly as his friend was dispatched to the cooking pot. I confess, I didn’t watch the final blow…
I stayed up with other helpers and mostly cut up carrots and radishes for what is termed the “green salad”. (Nothing green – just the raw carrots and white radishes). After cutting them, I also helped cut up the fruit – apples, grapes, bananas, pomegranates, etc. They all looked so tasty – but I knew they hadn’t been soaked in iodine water, or chopped in a very clean way, so I determined I probably wouldn’t eat either the salad or the fruit! After watching the fruit being poured into a large trash bin and mixed with large pots of yoghurt, my initial resolve not to eat it was strengthened!
But – it was fun to be part of the preparations!
Les was working in the morning, so I went home and changed clothes and then returned for the main part of the day. There were games – a very serious game of musical chairs occurred, which Debbie did play for a couple of rounds before she was knocked off one of the remaining chairs! Then interested staff were welcomed to share their talents – there were songs, poems, dances and drama. Les and I did a rendition of the song, “You lift me up” with different words written in honor of the Nepali staple food dalbhat. It was called, “You fill me up”. (Another expat in Nepal had written the new lyrics and the song can be found on facebook. Les and I took the idea and changed and added some words to make it fit life in Tansen).
Everyone who has served at the hospital for 25 years, 20 years, 15 years and 10 years receive certificates and awards. People retiring get certificates and gifts. There are other awards and presentations as well.
All during this time, many of the staff are busy cooking (over wood fires) enough rice, curried vegetables, goat meat, and chutney to feed the 500 people there! When the program is over, we all lined up and got plates full of very tasty food!
It was a lovely day – enjoyed by all. There is a lot of preparation, and a lot of clean up afterwards, but no one would like to not have the annual hospital bhoj! Next year Les will get his 15 year certificate for his service to the hospital.