It is a gloomy November morning in Chanaute, Nepal. Monsoon season has past, now going deep into winter. Usually the mornings start overcast and the cold creeps in all night till morning. But around 8am, the sun wakes up to warm the rest of the day.
I wake up to the sound of bells. The locals pray at dawn in the Hindi stupa in front of the clinic everyday. The sleeping bag has become my best friend, keeping me warm all through the night. First thing in the morning is my mindfulness practice. Around 530-6am I start my day with an hour and half of yoga and meditation. I finish up by 730. By this time Bina, my house mate is up and making "chiya", the local tea.
I join her for tea and make my own breakfast. As breakfast is not usually a time people eat in Chanaute. Sometimes, there is left over curry from the day before so Bina will make curry fried rice with eggs. But most times I make myself oatmeal, eat some fruit or cross the street to the hotel and buy "malpa and unda" for breakfast. Malpa is a local deep fried ball of bread that they make fresh everyday. It is absolutely delicious!! And unda is egg. This costs about 20 cents. I try to leave the malpa and unda for Fridays, to have a little something to look forward to in the week.
Sometimes, families in the neighborhood will invite Bina and I over for breakfast. Which is a nice treat. They usually give us "dud chiya" which is their version of a chai tea latte and it is probably my favorite thing here. It is a blend of their local tea, sugar and buffalo milk. They also give us "cel", another delicious treat. Cel is a skinny doughnut shaped slightly sweet bread.
Around 9am, I am done with breakfast and getting ready for work. Getting ready for work involves very cold showers!! The last volunteer advised me to bring body wipes or to boil some water and use a bucket. But I actually got used to the cold showers and take them regularly.
At 9am, I sometimes go for a quick 15-30 min walk to warm up and then start work at 9:30am. There are many beautiful hikes. Varying in altitude, environment and distance.
At 9:30 I am in the clinic ready for patients. I make sure everything is clean and organized. Sometimes one or two patients are waiting at this time already. And sometimes I don't get patients till later around 11am. Most of the time patients start coming in at 10:30. The morning tends to be busier than the afternoon. There are three treatment beds, so often times I am using all three.
Around noon Copila, the house cook, calls us up for lunch. We eat curry, rice and lentils every meal, with veggies that are in season. I love their food!! At first it was a little odd to eat the same thing everyday but now I find myself craving it! It is usually spicy also, so if you have sensitive taste buds make sure you let them know before hand. I started out with a sensitive taste bud but now I find myself also adding more chilies for the taste! The meals are typically vegetarian. Which works for me because I don't eat meat. But if you like meat you can buy and ask them to add it in.
There are 4 of us that work at the clinic. Me, Saveen the translator/assistant, and 2 nurses, Bina and Mina. Everyone is very sweet and loves to help and show you a good time. They also LOVE chocolates, so I usually make my rounds and give everyone a piece of chocolate after lunch. I brought a big Halloween bag with me from the US.
It gets slow around 2pm. Sometimes there's no patients at all after 2. So I usually read or sit with the nurses in front of the clinic where the sun can warm our backs and do some people watching. Also, this is a good time to learn Nepali, or teach them English.
It is slow season right now. I am getting anywhere from 3 patients, up to 16. Most people are out harvesting rice or planting wheat.
Almost everybody comes in for knee or back pain. So it is a good thing to practice orthopedic acupuncture before coming. Some other common cases are gastritis, acid reflux, menstrual disorders, and headache. I got one patient with intestinal worms and a couple insect bites.
Work is done at 4:30pm. At this time of the year, the sun goes down around 5:30. So this gives me about an hour of sun to go explore the village. I usually go on a longer walk at this time and check out the river and neighboring villages. Everyone is always curious about what you are doing and try to talk to you. But not many people speak English. So usually I just say "namaste" and signal them that I'm just walking around. Sometimes I try to talk to them and they show me their homes and let me pet their goats and buffalo.
Most of the kids speak English. They learn in English at their school. So once they get off of school they help me translate to their parents.
At sun down, Bina is starting to prep dinner. We usually eat at home or we go to Sita's house and eat there. Again, curry, rice and lentils for dinner. Sometimes they are garbanzo beans.
We end up staying at Sita's till around 9pm and then it is time to go back home and get some good sleep for the next day.
Chanaute is a very safe place. It is more of a conservative Hindu village. Everyone is very nice and respectful. You can feel free to walk around on your own and not feel threatened by the locals.