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Paddy, palaces and stories

Days 14 and 15

We were all getting a little tired by this point of the trip, so we had a couple of quieter days.

On the Saturday we had morning tea at team leader Paddy’s house, a short walk from the hotel.

Paddy’s house is full of certificates and medals. Paddy himself is a bit of a celebrity in Nepal. He’s famous for his volleyball prowess and his work in the community; among numerous other things, he’s a board member for Seven Women Nepal. He’s also a great joker, and has instigated most of the inside jokes that have been formed on this tour. In addition to all of this, Paddy is an excellent host and the morning tea he provided was lovely.

Then we walked down to the King’s Palace. The place has been used as a museum since the forced abdication of the last King a decade ago, and was the scene of the massacre of the royal family in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the museum is one of the few places here that does not run on Nepali Time, and we were five minutes too late to see the inside of the palace.

Some people returned to the palace the next day to see its inside. They had interesting stories to tell on their return- there were no photos allowed, bags had to be placed in lockers and everyone was frisked on their way in. No one has lived in the palace for nearly a decade, but Nepal’s political status has only recently begun to stabilise and no one was taking chances. Still, the armed guards on the walls of the palace seem a bit extreme when you consider that the location is now a museum.

We headed to the Seven Women Centre to hear the stories of some particularly resilient women.

One of the women is named Beni. Beni used to work in villages as a child care nurse. It was hard work as she had to fight against poor hygiene habits. She also struggled with her society’s expectation that women should be shy. This expectation means that many women do not speak up, even when they are hurt or dying, as it makes them seem unfeminine and unsuited for wifely duties. Due to this submissiveness, abuse, abandonment or murder of women is not treated seriously in parts of Nepal.

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Beni wanted to change that and empower the women she met. She set up a recycled product business, where women would collect used chip and rice packets lying on the streets of Kathmandu, take them home and make products such as bowls, bags and purses. The women learn the skills to make these products, which she can sell and make some money.

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Anita, the manger of the Centre, was the other speaker. Ani came from a poor village and was the eldest daughter of a couple with no sons. She loved her father, but found it insulting whenever he despaired about not having a son, because it implied that she was worthless. She ended up running away to Kathmandu. She started working in a cafe and had a really understanding boss.

Ani later met her English husband in the cafe she worked at, and it was he who recommended her for the manager role at the centre.

-Erin

This post was modified from the original entries on my personal blog, Erin’s Written World.

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