We were blessed to have a personal homestay included in our trip.  I learned enough to know I was residing this evening with three generations.   They reside in one four-story home they own with bedrooms on the lower floors and kitchen near the top to release heat.   It’s a square. four small spaces per floor layout constructed of concrete and, they explain later, with a deep and strong foundation to protect against future earthquakes.

A typical multi-floor family home in Kathmandu

There were gorgeous views from the 5th and 6th floor terraces which are accessed from the outside spiral and then steep staircases.   I know this because the 10 year-old son and niece chased up there to fly kites just before sunset in a magical moment they shared with me.

All three terrace levels are ringed with pots of chilis and marigolds and others plants.   I complimented his mother’s green thumb and he agreed she was very good with growing things but also wanted to show me his first and second invention of an organic composting container that compressed the waste, without burning, which could be then used as fertilizer.   “Nothing is wasted in my home”.   The small solar panel, rooftop water tanks and small satellite dish indicated the industriousness of this family all of whom contribute to the greater good for their home.

Common array of solar panels and satellite dishes and water tanks

A snack was offered on a brass pie plate with three small bowls containing side dishes next to the main egg dish.   It was yummy for sure.  Basically, a thin rice pancake was poured into a small frying pan and allowed to form the base crust before an egg was plopped into the center and the whole thing fried sunny side up.   This was served with a fresh wheat-based thicker pancake sitting on top giving the appearance of a bottomless egg McMuffin.  

The side dishes were without chili’s with only one of them being tolerably spicy.   One was paneer – cheese curds – in a tomato-based sauce.   Another was chunks of chicken in a saffron sauce.   Yet another was slightly spicy chunked potatoes seasoned with ground sesame with some cumin because “really we don’t cook anything without a little cumin”.  

A normal Newari lunch

The final small bowl was oddly shaped chunks my host wouldn’t identify until I had eaten them all.   I knew it was a meat as the vegetarians didn’t have this bowl.   At first taste it was a cooked, then cooled to room temp. Liver?   Nope.  Extremely chewy, it wasn’t bad or spicy but just needed to be gnawed.   I knew it was a larger animal and surprised him with my second guess of tongue.  “Yes.   Buff.”   As in water buffalo.   And apparently a delicacy.  

This is a family of love.   They gather together often and know each other well enough to know when to be apart a little bit.   Mom dotes on the family with cooking.   Some of the others know how to cook but none could tell me how to make the spinach.   They had to ask Mom.   The sons tried to make up some way to cook it but clearly their story fell apart when quizzed about specifics and the daughter in laws spoke up to ask Mom.   That’s about right.   Around the world that’s how it goes.

Younger brother asks if I like to drink alcohol.   I tell him I do sometimes but it’s not necessary.   He says something to Dad who grins and nods a definite challenge.   Mom makes some noises indicating negative.   I defer to Dad but only if he joins me.  He broadly smiles and off she goes.   Turns out she makes the whisky with a base of millet.   It’s clear as vodka but does, indeed, taste of whiskey.   She pours mine first and pauses for me to taste.   I shake my head no and look at him at the other end of the table.  He smiles, she pours, he holds it up to clink glasses and I lean in to clink back.   Everyone is dying with anticipation to see the old white lady choke.

It goes down smooth on the tongue and burns on the throat and I tell them so.   They are pleased with the analogy.  I’m grateful it’s a juice glass with two fingers meaning a little more than a shot – but not much.

We’re taking a small group to Nepal in October 2019.  If you’re interested, please send us a note and we’ll send you some details.