Tag Archives: dashain

Dashain is around the corner

Dashain is the biggest festival in Nepal. It holds a special place in our hearts. I once quit a job just to be home for Dashain. So, you can guess that Dashain is a big deal in Nepal. This festival holds a special significance. It signifies unity, defeat of good over evil, respect towards our elders, lots of food, new clothes, a big family event and long holidays. When I was in school, we had a full months holiday during Dashain, ahhhh those blissful days.

Dashain is a 15 day event and Ghatasthapana marks the beginning of Dashain or start of Navaratri. After 7 days of Ghatasthapana starts an array of a week long festivities with each day holding some religious significance. The first sign that Dashain is around the corner is the weather. In Kathmandu, the weather is just perfect during Dashain, it is the end of summer and its cool and pleasant. All us of can relate to the special bright sunshine and how the sun is warm with cool breeze during Dashain, this kind of sunshine is called “pareelo gham” in Nepali. But staying far away from home, the clues of Dashain are status updates in Facebook and fellow bloggers writing about the festival, which is not bad either :).

When my grandfather and grandmother still lived in the village, we all would go to the village to get blessings from them on the final day of Dashain, which is called Tika. There are a lot of things about Dashain and I can go on and on talking about my fondness for it. But today I will focus on how my childhood Dashain used to be, when we went back to the place Bua(dad) was born and when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

The place my Bua was born is Bhorle, Dhading. It is not so far from the capital city but it didn’t mean it was easy to get there. Going to Bhorle used to be an adventurous trip for us. I think Mom and Bua had discussions whether or not we should go to Bhorle this year. To go to Bhorle, we had to take a bus from Kathmandu and get down at Adamghat, which took around 3-4 hours during those days. After getting down at Adamghat was a steep trek of about 8-9 hours!! My dad was born somewhere in the remote hills of Dhading district and until few years back there was no means of transportation that would take us there. The only option was either to walk or be carried on a Nepali basket made of bamboo called “Doko”. So Mom and Bua had a hard time deciding whether or not to take the kids to Bhorle for Dashain(which of course I found out later from mom). I have faint memories of my Bhorle trek. We have the pictures at home, which reminds me of Dashain in Bhorle. My Mom looks extremely pretty in her red sari and red pote(necklace for married women in Nepal). Trip to Bhorle used to be a lot of fun for us kids. Me, my brother, my uncles and cousins had our little gang. Our uncles were the guide and leaders as they had travelled the trail quite often and were experienced. So me and my brother had a lot of fun as city kids going to the village. We used to be amazed by the nature, the insects we saw on the way and the cows, buffaloes, goats, hens we saw in the village and if we were lucky we could sight deers and how our uncles always warned us of Jackals or “Bwasoo”. We also got to enjoy the wild berries and wild fruits on the way to Bhorle. Everyone would take special care of us since we were small kids and from the city :). I can recall that everywhere we rested, we were offered with “Mahi”(homemade yoghurt smoothy?) and “bhuteko makai”(roasted corn kernels). And we had someone my Bua or Hajurbuwa(grandfather) knew on the way top and they would make remarks like, “Ohh so you are the son of so and so and the grandson of so and so”. And when we would be too tired after few hours of walk, there would be potters and sometimes our relatives or uncles who would carry us in Doko. The way to Bhorle used to be beautiful with green trees, far away view of himalayas, open grasslands and the endless hills. I wonder how it is now. And since it was Dashain, there were Bamboo swings at every small village we passed and it was a lot of fun to play in those swings. But we could never match up with the village kids who played wild and looked like they had far more fun than us.

Photo Credit-http://www.nepal-pictures.com: A swing similar to the numerous swings or “Ping” that we encountered on our way to Bhorle.

So Bua always made remarks to us saying how we were the broiler chicken and the village kids were the local chicken. After crossing every hill, we used to ask our uncles how much farther it is and they used to show us a nearest hill and say behind that big hill is our home or “Tyo dada ko pachadi hamro ghar cha” but once we crossed that hill they used to again point us to another nearest hill and say the same thing!! I do not precisely remember other details from the trip and how we finally reached home. The next thing I remember is the tika day or the day when the elders in the family put tika on foreheads of youngers as a blessing. For the boys it was all about goat meat; which part of goat they wanted to eat and flying kites. For girls it was about the money they were going to earn after tika which is called dakshina and new clothes they were going to wear on tika day. I think during those days we got 25 paisa, 50 paisa as dakshina. I have a colourful picture that we took at Bhorle after tika which is in Kathmandu and too bad I cannot post it right now.

So this was Dashain all about when I was a little kid, one of my first memories of Dashain. Today Dashain is still about going back home, being together with mom and Bua and receiving tika from them. It makes me a little sad that I cannot be home for Dashain this year too. So, my wish for Dashain this year is may my Mom and Bua have a wonderful health, may goddess Durga bless my home and make it harmonious, may Mom and Bua be happy and healthy all year around and may I be able to serve my parents in every possible way. Happy Dashain Mommy and Bua. I am sad that I cannot be home to share Bua’s enthusiasm of goat meat and Mom’s excitement of navaratri puja. But I will definitely Skype and receive blessings over the internet!!

And Happy Dashain in advance to my readers as well!
P.S: Ghatasthapa falls on 16th October this year and Tika falls on 24th October.

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If you really want to do something nothing will stop you!!

Have you ever wondered how many times we fret over our circumstances? I do many times. Sometimes I wish I had chosen some other line of work, and sometimes I wish I could turn back time to undo some of the things I’ve done. These are vague philosophical examples that has effected my life in a big way. But there are plenty of petty things that I wish I could’ve done or undone, like the title of one of the Sex and the City episodes “could’ve, should’ve and would’ve” where the girls talk about things they could’ve, should’ve and would’ve done. We all wonder about these three verbs in our lives. But do we really work towards what we want in life? May be we don’t, because if we really wanted to do something nothing would have stopped us. I will talk about few examples of me and my friends where we have really wanted something and got it.

When I was working in C city, I was never really satisfied with the job I had. It was the first time I left home and lived in a foreign city. The first few months were blissful. I enjoyed the independence.  But as time passed, I realized that this is not what I want in life. I missed home terribly and I cried myself to sleep on many occasions. When I look back, I feel like I was such a kid!! I will mention one particular silly occasion here. One day me and my room mate P (who later on became my best friend and today she is like family) were returning to our apartment from work. We were hungry and talking about what to eat. Since we were so unorganized at that time, having no idea how to live without family support, we didn’t even know basic skills like managing budget for the month, managing groceries, making dinner plans (since at home, dinner was always ready, we didn’t even care how :P, we were such dumbos back then!!) to name a few. So on that particular day, when we got to our apartment we thought we’d make some sweet milk tea and have some biscuits with it. But we didn’t have a refrigerator, so we went to a shop near by to buy some milk and biscuits. Since it was already evening, there was no milk in the shop(in Nepal and most of South Asia, milk normally sells only in the morning), so we just bought some biscuits and came back. P then made some sweet black tea for both of us and we dipped our biscuits in tea and ate it. I was so saddened by the realization that when you’re hungry, you need to earn your food in order to eat it, I cried bitterly that day. I was very sad but thankful to my parents who took care of us their whole life and we didn’t even know how!!

The whole idea of giving above example is, I was not happy living in C city. For about 10 months I kept procrastinating my return, sometimes I said what will my parents think, will they think of me as a loser who couldn’t handle living abroad? I had doubts like where will I work when I get back to K city? But a stable salary, great love life and fabulous girlfriends couldn’t make me stay back at C city for long. I went back home for the Dashain of same year, my reason was “There is no way I’m gonna miss dashain at home and I will never get a 15 day leave to come back!!”. So just like that I left my life in C city behind and went back home, to K city.

Now there is another side of the story too. P (my best friend and room mate at C city) and I interviewed the same day and got selected for the job. She had always wanted to live outside of K city, earning her own living. When she got the job, she was thrilled to go to C city. Since her exams were not over by our joining date as mentioned in the offer letter, she postponed her joining date to a month later. I remember asking her to re-consider her decision to come to C city as the job was not as good as we expected and the city wasn’t great either. But she decided to come anyway. She even convinced her parents that she would be able to live by herself in a foreign city despite of being so heavily dependent on her family. So on new years’ eve, she showed up in C city. When we really want to do something, we just do it!!

Lastly, I want to mention what inspired me to write this post. I was browsing Facebook and going through recently uploaded pictures of my school friend. She had shaved her head and she was wearing a saree, the picture was taken at her friends’ wedding. There were many comments on her bold look, some congratulated for her guts, some complemented her for carrying it off so well and some even commented mentioning shock and asking her why she had made such a decision. I knew she went bald because she felt it was a spiritual calling. She had practiced “Bipashana Meditation” and was inspired by a fellow follower to go bald. I was just browsing through her replies and on one of those I read her comment “If you really want to do something nothing will stop you”. This made me think, gosh…she is so right, when we really want to do something, nothing will stop us. So think about it, if you are having second thoughts about doing something or making some decisions in your life, may be you don’t really want it in the first place!!

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…..when diagnosed with cancer in Nepal

Yes, you read it right. My title for this post goes, when you are diagnosed with cancer in Nepal.

In October of 2010, my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Let me start with a little background on this. In May 0f 2010, I graduated from University. As I used to talk to my mum over skype on daily basis whenever possible, I remember, she complained of some kind of mild to moderate pain in her stomach. We asked her to visit a doctor from time to time but since my mum never had any health issues and followed a healthy lifestyle, we never even guessed something like cancer would happen to her. She has been meditating everyday since the year 2002. She always used to brag about how meditation cured all her health issues and it brought happiness in her life and she could easily let go of anger. She always encouraged us(rest of the family members) to meditate as well. I used to sit with her now and then in the puja(prayer) room and meditate with her but none of us took it as seriously as she did. Then one day, she went to the hospital to get herself thoroughly checked as many of her friends from meditation group were going. I remember she happily reported everything was normal. Then, one fine day, she was leaving for mama ghar (my maternal uncle’s house) with Kancha (our helper at home) on a bike. Kancha was not too confident about driving the bike and my mum was nervous too, so as soon as Kancha took off, they slipped and had a minor accident. That day, my mum went to mama ghar, made some chicken curry, stayed there until dinner and came home at night. She felt fine the whole day but the next morning she had severe body ache so when me and my brother insisted, she went to a nearby hospital for a check up. They said she was alright and there is nothing to worry. Several month passed this incident and my mum complained about stomach pain now and then but she assured us it was just a little bit of pain and there was nothing to worry about.

After I finished my graduation, I visited my brother in Australia, stayed there for a month and a half and headed back to Nepal. Everyone was so happy at home when I arrived in Kathmandu, dashain was approaching and we were all looking forward to tika at home, I had missed the last two Dashain with family. So the humdrum of Dashain began. Bua was very excited and bought a goat that year as I was home. He loves to cook and he is a big fan of goat meat.

So one day before tika, mum did all the housework, cooking cleaning and we all ate a fair amount of meat that day. I was upstairs with my cousins during dinner time. I asked my cousin sister, “Where’s mum?”, she said Thulmum(elder mum, she is my mum’s sister’s daughter) is not feeling well today so she’ll skip dinner. My mum seldom skips dinner, if she is not well, she will eat something light but I do not remember any other instance when she has skipped dinner. So I went down to her room to check on her. She was lying down on her bed and trying to sleep, I gently woke  her up and asked if she wanted any milk and cookies. She said, I just have a terrible stomach ache, it may be due to a lot of meat, I just had a glass of Eno, so I’m fine. I told her, I will boil some milk and keep it in the room, if you feel hungry later, please drink the milk mum. Saying this, I switched off the light and went upstairs to get some milk for her.

Next day was tika I think, I don’t exactly remember. Bua and me wanted to take her to the hospital since she had been complaining about her stomach ache quite a lot these days, but that day she woke up early, went to the puja room, did her daily chores and when I saw her, she looked absolutely fine. My mum has the warmest smile that can make you feel good on any situation. She had that smile on her that day, so I just assumed we could wait for few more days until the hospitals started fully operating after Dashain was over.

Then two days after Dashain, we took her to one of the renowned doctors in town, she asked her few questions and advised for Ultrasound. Her ultrasound results were fine but she still had that persistent pain. So Bua insisted for an endoscopy (me and my brother had already done a little research in this subject and we sort of had an idea on what to do next if the ultrasound report was normal). At that time these were the exact words said by the doctor, “I know she is fine coz her Ultrasound report is normal, but for your satisfaction, we can have an endoscopy done.”

On the day of her endoscopy, my cousin sister dropped my mum to the hospital on the way to her office and my mum was to return back home by a taxi. I was at home that day, it took her a little longer to come back than anticipated so I was a bit worried. When she came back an hour or so late, I went down to pick her up from the taxi and brought her upstairs in her room. She complained that the procedure was very painful and they had a pipe shoved down her throat and the test lasted for almost one hour!! I think at that time, I didn’t react much, just listened to her talk about the experience and that was it. We were waiting for the report. The report was due next day in the afternoon. Since my cousins’ office was next to the hospital, she was the one who would go and pick up the report. She went there during her lunch hour and the person who handed her the report asked her to see the doctor as well. She went to see the doctor and the doctor told her to come with her father and he would talk about my mum’s endoscopy report. That evening when she came home with the report, she was a bit nervous as she told us what happened at the hospital. I looked at the report and googled it. It indicated CANCER but I was in denial. I thought, this may be advanced form of ulcer, no way my mum would have cancer!! She lead a healthy life, meditated everyday, always had home cooked meal, didn’t smoke or drink and so on….

The next day, Mum, Bua and me went to the hospital together. It was jam packed!! We waited for over an hour to meet the doctor. We all went in at first, then the doctor asked my mum to wait outside for a while. Then he told us, my mum had stomach cancer and that it looked like it was in an advanced stage. I don’t exactly remember what his advice was after that, I think he asked us to go to another hospital for further treatment or wait for biopsy report. Bua and I were speechless, we didn’t know what to do and what to say to each other. We both felt numb, we couldn’t react. I think I asked few questions to the doctor before we left the room, like “Are you absolutely certain?”, he said, “I’m afraid I am!!”. The next thought in my head was to go and show this report to the lady doctor who had confidently said endoscopy would be unnecessary. Bua instantly agreed to visit her, our intention was to let her know the result so that she would not miss such diagnosis in future. When we showed her the report, she was startled, she referred us to a surgeon who had absolutely no experience in oncology!! As we walked out of the hospital, our first instinct was to take her to Delhi, where there was a hospital dedicated solely to treatment of cancer.

….and this is how our fight with cancer began, I will write in episodes about our battle with cancer. Today my mum is in Kathmandu and she has to visit the cancer hospital in Delhi once in every three months. By God’s grace, she is doing well. She makes me so proud, I feel blessed to have a mum who is as strong as her.

I am not sure how helpful this post will be for all of you, but I hope you will be able to pick up some pattern and take careful steps in your own lives. Before I end this post, let me make a list of things to do before and after diagnosis of cancer in Nepal.

Things to do before and after diagnosis of cancer in Nepal:(Please note that I am not referring to any professional websites while writing this post, it is written completely from my personal reference of my mum’s diagnosis of cancer)

1. If you have a persistent pain on any of your body part, please visit a doctor and have yourself thoroughly checked. In Nepal, I have seen that doctors tend to hurry to the next patient. So be prepared with the questions you need to ask and a little research before the visit would help a lot.

2. Five early signs of cancer are(from memory): 1. A sore throat or cough that does not heal 2. A wound that does not heal. A wart that is sore. 3. A lump/wart (small/big) on your body that grows over time 4. Blood in stool, cough and urine 5. Constipation. If you have any of these signs, please visit your doctor to check if everything is ok.

3. Get yourself regularly checked up, consider atleast once in a year as mandatory. In Nepal, there is no concept of regular health check ups. And if you or your mom/dad are over 40 or 50, then twice in a year wouldn’t hurt. And do not be shy to tell a doctor about all of your problems even if you think they are silly. In Nepal, many doctors tend to discourage you to have a long talk with the doctor specially because of their busy schedule but do not hesitate to take as much time as you need until you have full knowledge of your health condition or until you are fully satisfied of the diagnosis.

4. After the doctor has confirmed your biopsy report, my personal advice would be to request for the slide of your sample from where you had your biopsy done and consider going to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in New Delhi, Rohini. In kathmandu, the most reliable lab is Blue cross laboratories in Tripureswor. Do not trust any other lab reports. Sometimes it would take more than one biopsy to verify your diagnosis of cancer.

5. The doctors might suggest you to consider treatment in Kathmandu since the cancer is in early stage and so on, but weigh your options carefully before you begin your treatment in Ktm. Dr. Sudip Shrestha is an Oncologist practicing in Kathmandu, he can be available either at Om Hospital or Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital. You can consult him first for his opinion before you consider Delhi. I would still recommend you to go to New Delhi for a second opinion.

6. Collect some cash before you go to Delhi for treatment. One surgery typically costs around  500,000 INR in average. The cost of Chemo would be 50,000 INR in average/session, but please note that the cost varies with the kind of cancer diagnosis.

7. Trust in higher power and have faith, faith, trust and hope is something that gives you strength and courage to face all the obstacles during your journey of fighting cancer.

I will be writing more about my experience in cancer hospital during my mum’s treatment. Stay tuned!

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