I was afraid to face the humid and hot climate of Terai, especially coming from Finland, where heat is not something we are used to. Now everyone in Fattepur village, in Bara district, knows a lot of stereotypes about my cold country and its people. And I know a lot about the village. I got used to the heat as well, and it was quite nice not having to moisturize my skin for one month.
I arrived at the end of June, first in Kathmandu and from there we took a car that drew five hours through the hills to Fattepur. I’ve never seen such landscapes. The narrow, curvy roads and the nature were amazing, even when it was cloudy. Afterwards travelling the same way by a microbus (tatasumo), I was quite scared. Especially during the monsoon time there are landslides and roads are muddy. The drivers were quite skillful.
I was welcomed to the school by students and teachers. They showed me the computer room, where seven computers were waiting to be used and one needed a power plug. One of the computers had internet already. During my stay all the eight computers were taken to use, all of them got internet, some students learned how to use many computer programs, email and facebook. Also teachers were eager to learn how to use the internet, and students also helped them.
I was amazed how friendly and kind everyone in the village was. I felt welcome everywhere and was offered incredibly sweet mangoes and even sweeter milk tea. It took a while to get used to people gathering wherever I went, just to see me. Many of them wanted to dye my hair black, but that would have made my face look very pale. Everyone remembered the previous celebrity, Eva Zulian, and missed her very much.
At the beginning of my one month’s stay, I had the chance to experience planting rice in the wet fields, and at the end I could cut it. I also rode on the back of a motorbike to Simara, Hetauda a couple of times Dumarwana.
The house where I stayed was the biggest house in the village. The children in my host family could understand and speak a little bit of English as they went to a private school where teaching is mostly in English. With the grown-ups we communicated with gestures. They also understood my basic learning of Nepali better than my English. I learned how to say names of jewelry in Bhojpuri. The women and girls in my host family wanted me to wear jewels all the time. A local tailor made similar kurta surwal dresses for me and my “sister”. I learned how to eat everything without cutlery, although I was using my spoon for the first few days. The water in the village is very clean; I was able to drink it without any problem. Usually I have avoided spicy food but now I actually quite like it.
Everyone kept asking how large my family is, what my family members’ names are and when I will get married.
Some of the students were amazing singers. They stood up in front of the whole class and sang Hindi songs to me while others were playing the percussions with their hands against the school desk. The class sizes are quite huge; some of the students were writing their exams outside on the lawn, against any concrete surfaces.
The summer vacation started on the second week of my stay. It was the peak of agricultural activities so children had to help their parents with harvesting and other work. 11-12 classes c ontinued their classes and some older students stayed at the school for extra tuition.
It was sad to leave just as I was beginning to know people well.