Anza turns 5

by Annalise on October 17, 2009

This morning marks the end of week 2 here and it has been quite something. All manageable, some weird but mostly fantastic. I have almost daily interviews with the neighborhood kids aged between 5-12 along my usual walk as they approach with their bright smiley ‘hallo’ and test out their school lesson English. I’m struggling with their names still but our conversations progress all the same.   Last night we were invited to a birthday party for a 5 year old.

Anza is the daughter of a lovely woman who works in a local shop along my walk of the area I’ve found for my groceries and household supplies. Anju, the mom, works at the Organic Village store and she has provided the most welcoming, consistently beaming smiles to me as I asked my foolish questions about local food and services – much in hand gestures to supplement my halting Nepali; phrase book at the ready. After almost daily, welcomed visits, both of us struggling with the other’s language, she insisted we all come to her daughter’s 5th birthday party. I had introduced Anju to Robin on one walk and she introduced us to Anza on another afternoon. Apparently the little girl decided she really wanted ‘the boy’ to be invited to her party too. We had no idea what to expect; after all, it was a 5 year old’s birthday party.

We walked to the store as our arranged meeting spot and met Satisma, Anju’s colleague at the store with whom we were supposed to cab to the house. We also met there, Samir, Anju’s brother-in-law and owner of the Organic Village chain of 4 stores who also heads up an NGO (Non-Government Organization – almost every businessman in Kathmandu whom we’ve met has one). Samir’s NGO promotes sustainable and organic farming practices throughout Nepal, lobbying Government and working with farming communities, teaching optimal organic practices and connecting them with markets, local and urban. His efforts also include arranging micro-loans to the farmers for their business needs, installing solar power for their homes, and organizing student exchanges promoting and supporting the farming lifestyle and acknowledging this as a laudable, valued profession. He is a passionate man and he had much to share about his work and experiences all around Nepal – Dave spend much of the evening in conversation with Samir – well except for when Samir’s wife tried to get him up for a Nepali dance…. you know… Dave, dancing…. ‘nough said.

Back to the party: it was a huge family affair; you’d think the little girl was turning 21! We arrived not at a house but rather a restaurant/club with a fair sized crowd. A live band, a full late evening meal, a fantastic cake, everyone in their dress saris and two large gerrycans of fresh home made rice wine which they brought into the restaurant with them! Anju’s parents were there, obviously very happy to be engulfed in the ciaos and laughter of the young families of three of their daughters and their son. I visited with all of the sisters, the kids and the grandma beyond the limits of the language barriers again with laughs and gestures. Anja’s younger sister was just days away from delivering her second child and so she was the most sedentary of the group but not without her own laugh and retorts to her family’s teasing. Apparently she’d had a couple of false alarms and the guys were complaining that next time they’d bring along three videos to watch and they weren’t leaving the hospital until that baby arrived. Robin was mostly followed by with a gaggle of little kids; his turn to be interviewed and he was amongst the tallest there so he was able to pull the balloons down from the ceiling passing them back to the kids. He’d had also brought his chanter along – the full bagpipes would have been too much and we had no idea what to expect when we headed out. When the band took their break, at Anju’s insistence, Robin took his chanter up to play Happy Birthday for Anza as well as several jigs. They loved it and we think he now has a commitment to play his pipes for the upcoming opening of Samir’s 5th store. All of the little girls had their turn at the microphone as guest soloists with the club’s band and the littlest one at just under 2 yrs loved the stage and remained in place with the microphone gripped firmly in her little hands for almost 15 minutes. Dave enjoyed his conversation with Samir and the other son-in-laws as Granddad kept filling Dave’s mug with yet another of the cloudy white rice wine (it was really quite good – we girls were having our share of toasts at our end as well). Samir’s daughter at 11 was quite a bright spark. She’s an avid trekker and camping fan, traveling with her family as school allows. She went to some great lengths to talk about a story book about camping and mentioned something called marshmallows (not to be found here so far …); most animated. We’re hoping Shirley will bring a bag or two so we can share this foreign treat with this most inviting group. What a riot! What a warm and gorgeous family! And so week two ends with a happy bang or is that a hangover?….

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley Robertson October 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm

This sounds just amazing. You have so quickly met people and been welcomed. It’s great. and I know I will benefit from all this when I arrive. And I will do my best to get Marshmellows through Customs.

sims October 26, 2009 at 6:14 am

Great story!
Also, I thought of something. Robin is piping a set of McCallum Great Highland bagpipes, no?
I’ll bet you anything that he would make friends for life in the McCallum marketing dept if he sent them pictures of him bagpiping around Nepal.

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