This post was originally written in March of 2018, while I was living in Nepal.
I found my English/Nepali dictionary and looked up the right words. I was nervous. I always mispronounce things and then no one understands me. I said it over and over again, repeating it in my head.
Finally, I walked out onto the balcony and made eye contact with my neighbor. “Namaste!” We both called out. She said something else, speaking much too quickly for me to understand.
I looked down and my book and hesitantly spoke. Gesturing that I would like to visit.
She looked surprised and then smiled, nodding her head enthusiastically. I quickly put on my shoes and grabbed my dictionary, knowing that I would need it.
Taking my shoes off at the door, I walked up the stairs to the second floor. I was greeted with a blur of Nepali, something about how I should have left my shoes on. I was seated in a chair, and then my neighbor grabbed my hands, and pulled me close. With my little understanding of Nepali, and her even less understanding of English, we struggled to communicate. But, I did learn to understand, through a few words I know and a lot of gesturing, that she had been trying to invite me over for months. And now, she was so incredibly happy for me to finally come and see her after all these months of just saying “Namaste” once every few days.
I was treated to tea, cookies, a sweet root vegetable and chickpeas with beaten rice within the hour or two that I was there for. Even though I misunderstood her for months, she still wanted to be my friend.
Now, she calls me her daughter and I go to visit often. She also continues to give me tea and food every time I visit no matter how much I say I’m not hungry. She has even invited me to stay with her when I come back to Nepal to visit and we have plans in place to keep in touch once I’m back in Canada.
“Puppy’s Mom” also known as Gita or Amma (Nepali for mother) originally caught my eye because her family had a dog (yes, his name is Puppy). But, over the last few months, she has become a friend and one of my favorite people in Nepal.
Gita Amma is the only person who, despite not speaking any English, wanted to speak with me anyways. Everyone else gave up when I stuttered out my broken Nepali. But instead of giving up, she helps me pronounce words, and corrects my grammar. We laugh when we don’t understand each other and keep reading through my books – each of us slowly learning something new.
Her generosity has truly touched me. It doesn’t matter how little she has, or how much I have, she just wants to share with me. Not just in physical objects and food but in her time and patience. Gita Amma’s kindness has made my experience in Nepal that much better, and I’ll always be grateful for her welcoming me into her home.