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Culture Shock: Nepal

Written by  Poppy Bending Beckett
Culture Shock Culture Shock ilkerender

Poppy Bending Beckett warns about a few cultural differences you'll encounter if you're off to Nepal...

1. Transport and the driving code
Cows standing in the middle of incredibly busy streets are normal. In theory, cars drive on the right hand side of the road – however in practice, it’s essentially a free for all. Also, as a pedestrian in Nepal – you are essentially a target. Don’t expect a driver to stop if you get in their way – you’re lucky if they even slow down! In Nepal – cars don’t have reverse lights – but reverse music... Each vehicle has its own individual tune. The novelty takes a long time to wear off! Buses: just because there isn’t a bus stop – this doesn’t mean the bus won’t stop. Give the driver a wave, and you’ll soon be on board. Don’t be shocked to have a duck sitting next to you, or some other flying animal of sorts.

2. Food and beverages
The drinking water really isn’t safe – and it’s not worth risking brushing your teeth from the tap, just use bottled or treated water. Daal Bhaat is the staple meal, eaten in the morning and at night. Be prepared for a lot of boiled rice (Bhaat), with a thin lentil soup (daal), accompanied by curried vegetables (tarkarri). The Nepalese drink a lot of tea (chiya) but they drink it black. It you want it white you’ll have to ask for milk. Yak cheese is not like cheddar. However much someone tries to tell you it is.

3. Etiquette
The Nepalese eat using their right hand (the left hand is used for “other” purposes). Don’t point the soles of your feet at anyone in Nepal – this is hugely offensive. You should also never touch the head of a Nepalese individual. Ladies should keep their shoulders and cleavage covered and shorts and skirts should be below the knee. It is the custom to haggle in Nepal. So get working on your bartering skills.

4. Relationships
It is generally frowned upon to be seen enjoying some public displays of affection in the street; it’s generally stuff done indoors here. It is common to see same sex walking together hand in hand or with arms around each other. It’s a common friendship gesture in Nepal. When someone talks to you and taps you while talking to you consider it as though the person is trying to get your attention, in a friendly way.

5. Timing
Things in Nepal tend to be quite slow, or quite late, whichever way you want to look at it. Don’t expect buses to be on time, prepare for long queues to get administrative tasks done, and if you’re meeting a local at a set hour, it’s quite common to not keep to the date in question, so bear that in mind and bring a good book with you...As it might turn out to be quite a wait...
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