BootsnAll Travel Network

Kathmandu: The Daily Show, Evening Edition

Life at the orphanage is rigidly structured. It has to be when you’re trying to control forty kids.

Bec and I pick the youngest ones up from school at 3.30pm. Before they leave, the whole school lines up in the courtyard to do exercises; “Arms out! Arms up! Arms down! etc.” We poke our heads over the fence and try to catch the eyes of the little ones. Six year old Nisha is normally the one to see us first, and a cheeky smile spreads across her face. She quickly glances around her to make sure no teachers are about, and then sneaks in a quick wave, before turning her head back to the front to finish her exercises.

All the youngest kids from the other Umbrella orphanages go to this school as well, and each house is kept behind while the local mothers pick up their kids and head home. Then each house leaves one-by-one, and the kids file out the single gate one after the other. Five year old Pawan is normally first, and his face lights up when he sees us, and he bounds over to grab my hand before leading me down the track back towards Sagarmatha House.

The kids disappear upstairs and change out of their school clothes faster than you can say “the rubbish on the streets of Kathmandu stinks!”

After a quick snack of hot milk and bread, they pour back inside to begin two hours of homework. Bec and I sit with the youngest kids, and help them with their English homework; spelling fruits, writing the names of vegetables, that sort of thing. Every few seconds one of them will approach us and ask in a most formal and polite yet disjointed manner, “can I hab de elaser please”, or “can I hab de cutter, mmmmmm, sharpener please”. The kids go through pencils as though they’re made of chocolate, sharpening them until there’s barely a pencil left, so they end up gripping these tiny little pencils that are about as long as my fingernail. They pass us their books to check their work, and we give it a big tick and an ‘excellent’. Then six-year-old Ravi, it’s always Ravi, will pass up his Nepali homework and look at us expectantly.

“Hmmmm, not so good on the old Nepali there Ravi. Maybe go and ask Indrakala.” Indrakala is the nineteen year old live-in tutor, who also teaches at the Divytara school. (I think I mentioned her in a previous post). And so Ravi will trot off and poke his book under Indrakala’s nose.

If the kids finish their set homework before 6pm, they’ll begin drawing pictures and colouring in. Bec or I will be in charge of doling out the coloured pencils, and are swamped by kids asking for browns and greens and ‘ellow’.

“Wait wait wait Unnati,” I’ll interrupt as the six-year-old reaches for the yellow pencil, “It’s not ‘ellow’. It’s yellow.”

Unnati pauses and looks at me with her big round eyes, head tilted slightly to the side. “Ellow!” she exclaims.

I shake my head, “Can you say yes,” I ask, emphasising the Y.


“Now, say yellow.”

And she responds by holding onto that Y like it’s the most important thing in the world, before spitting out the ‘ellow’ part as fast as she can, “Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyellow”.

6pm rolls around, and it’s time for evening dhal baat. The older kids are back by now, and all forty kids race outside to wash their hands and faces. We love evening dhal baat. Except on Wednesdays.

On Wednesdays, the kids are served buff with their dhal. That’s buffalo meat, folks. Although calling it meat is a bit of a stretch, you may as well call Russell Crowe relaxed. Now, I’ve got nothing against buff meat really. It’s actually a pretty decent substitute for beef. It’s just that the kids are given chunks of fat with veins of meat running through them that a great white shark would have trouble chewing.

But on every other day, the food is delicious, or ‘mito cha’ as we say here.

With dhal baat over, we wash our plates in the buckets of water outside, then race out into the playground and generally go crazy for an hour or so. Football, basketball, swings, slides, chasy – it’s quite the workout!

By 7.30pm we’re normally home and not far out of bed. Exhausted, and happy.

Until that dog starts fuckin’ barking again at 5am! Now, where did I put that rock?

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply