Living on the roof of the Noble House

We pack our bags and say our goodbyes to the people in the Kathmandu Guesthouse. It’s been a great stay in a lovely atmosphere and with the best coffee since Iran!! On the road for the last kilometers for the coming time.

We’re leaving Katmandu with the flow of traffic and soon we‘re on the highway. Cycling on a very busy two lanes road which we leave soon to take the touristy route to the Noble House. The only thing we know is that we have to take the road from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot. According to Sita, who runs the house together with her husband Utsab, we will bump into the red house. The small road is very dusty and the traffic is crazy. For the first time since we left The Netherlands we have a small accident. A motor driver hits the back of Stevens bicycle and Steven falls on the ground. Fortunate, nothing serious happens. After some nice words from Steven, we continue and soon we see the sign on a house: Noble House.

We take the dirt road to the house and immediately we see children running around. When we arrive on the lawn the children surround us enthusiastically. Utsab is there to welcome us and it feels really good to be there after so many kilometers. Steven treats the children on a little ride on the bike and the children love it. Soon the children are taking us to their school, which is just behind the house. The children are very happy and enthusiastic. It’s going to be a new adventure to give all the children the right attention. Our whole body gets a thorough examination and everything is special. The color of our hair, eyes and skin. Hair on the arms and legs, the fabric of our shirts all is nice and new. What we didn’t expect is the way the children speak their English. It’s very good and understandable which makes it easier to communicate with easy words. It’s a great place to be for the next couple of months. From now on our hotel is on the roof of the Noble House where we stay in a small room on top of the building. We have a lovely view and great kids beneath us.

General strike
Afew days after our arrival the strikes start in Nepal. The political parties don not agree with the king and his power. Together with the people they want the democracy back in the country. The aim of the strikes is that the king will give up his power. Something which will take a while. More than 20 days of strikes, demonstrations and curfews. In the Noble House we don’t notice this. It’s quiet on the roads, there’s no traffic. People have to walk to their goal. When we walk into the center of Bhaktapur we see many shops that are closed. Some of them open in secret to earn some money. We see a lot of police and army on the streets. Sometimes we can’t go into the city because of a curfew. We can feel that the situation is tense.
Normally the schools would start a new season in April in Nepal. But this doesn’t happen because of the strikes. People are talking about a revolution and the demonstrations become bloodier by the day. How long will this go on? We are happy to be in the Noble house. One morning we walk to Bhaktapur and we see that many shops have opened their doors. We see many people talking happily and there are flags in the streets. The people have won, the king retreats his power en there will be a chosen prime-minister.
Nepal has its democracy back!

With the democracy in the country, live starts to continue. In the meanwhile we started to do many things in the Noble House.

Voluntary work
We had the idea to visit many different schools and orphanages in the area to get a good impression of these facilities in Nepal. Due to the strike and the school holidays these plans falter and we start working in the Noble House instead. During the months cycling we’ve had a lot of time to think about the time we would spend at the Noble House. Now we’re here it all seems different than we thought. Things work differently in Nepal and everything goes a lot slower than in the Netherlands. For us this means that we have to take it very easy and only make small steps at a time. The plans and ideas we have are welcome but only in the Nepali way. That means easy does it. An impression of one of our days follows:
* 7:00hr we go downstairs to greet the children who have been awake for more than an hour. They’ve brushed their teeth and washed their faces.
* 7:30hr time for tea while the children get hot milk and something like bread or biscuits.
* 8:00hr the children make homework. We help them when they need it. We changed the way of learning to make it easier for the children to understand what they are doing. We found out that the children are stars in saying the alphabet, but the meaning of a word or how to read it they didn’t know. We’re trying to learn them the meaning of things.
* 8:45hr we take the kids outside. Time to play! The children didn’t know how to play in general but they love to do it. The crazier the game the more fun they have.
* 9:15hr time for washing the feet and hands. The elder ones help the younger children.
* 9:30hr Dahl Bat. A meal enjoyed by every Nepali. The children are sitting on the ground while they enjoy the rice and vegetables. After the meal they do their own dishes.
* 9:45hr time to prepare for school. The children comb their hair and put their schoolbags on.
* From 10:00hr till 16:00hr the children attend their classes. At 13.00hr they come home for lunch. The school which is just behind the Noble House is an English school. 4 Classrooms, 4 teachers, 85 children in the age of 3 till 12 years old. That’s all there is. The classrooms are decorated by the drawings of the children from the Netherlands in Meijel. The way of teaching is most of the times like this: the teacher screams something and the children will repeat this. We try to help the teachers to improve their way of teaching. How do you explain something in a way that the children do understand what they are learning. Sometimes we are the ones teaching, but we don’t want to do it too often, because we are leaving again. The teachers are the ones who have to do it when we are gone! We convinced the principal that playing games is very important. Once a week we are doing Sports and games. The children love it and we think the teachers love it as well. The first time the children were very carefully but now they are playing more and more. By doing some small changes we hope they will continue it when we’re on our bikes again.
* 16:00hr: The kids arrive from school and get some food and drinks. Afterwards they have time to play. Most of the times they play a game they have learned from us. They love to come for a hug and a talk. It’s great to see how fast they learn English. If they don’t know how to say something, Utsab and Sita will help. Our Nepalese is going very slowly.
* 17:00hr It’s time for their homework. In Nepal the children at primary school have to make homework which is different from The Netherlands. They really enjoy making it even when it takes more than an hour. Together with Sita we help them.
* From 18:15hr till 19:30hr the children can play again. Our lap is never empty. The children are singing the song ‘head, shoulders, knee and toe’ and some Dutch songs as well.
* 19:30hr time to wash the hands and eat Dahl Bat.
* 20:00hr the children go to bed. They change into their nightdresses. They are very proud to wear them, because they used to sleep in their clothes. We talk with Utsab and Sita about the day and than we go to the roof to read and sleep.

And for the rest…….
Beside our activities in the Noble House and at the school we spend our weekends most of the times somewhere else. It’s nice to discover some places and the surroundings. During the strikes we cycled a couple of times to Nagarkot. A nice climb up to 2000 meter high with great views and with a little bit if luck you can see the Himalayas. We had views at the countryside with its different levels, beautiful birds in the brightest colors and the hardworking people.
We also like to go to Kathmandu. Before arriving there by bicycle we first have to go trough a real polluted area. The pollution of the cars together with the dust makes it hard, but arriving in the capital is a delight. Enjoying the shops, the restaurants and good coffee! You can even find a Dutch ‘patatje oorlog’.
When we were on the road for the first time after the strikes on our way to Kathmandu, it went wrong. After 3 km I had to brake suddenly. Steven who drove close behind me could not stop in time. He flew over his bar and landed on his chin. A lot of blood and a very kind Nepalese man appeared who brought Steven to the hospital on the back of his motorcycle. When I arrived at the hospital with our cycles a doctor brought me to Steven. He was lying on the operation table and 6 doctors were standing besides him. Six stitches were the result. “You will never forget this” were the words of one of the doctors.



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