Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 6 - KTS - Nepali lessons

Today I discovered a fact of life in Kathmandu - that whatever food you do not put in the fridge, preferably in a sealed box in the fridge, attracts ants. The little blighters managed to get into my sealed biscuits and the jar of peanut butter, also sealed. This meant I had nothing for breakfast so went out to Cafe Swotha for their "Healthy all day breakfast" which was rye bread, butter, omelette, curd and dried fruit and tea. Tasty and filled me up nicely.

I walked to school at 9am as usual and signed in. Then I went to class 3 and decided to shadow them all day to see a variety of lessons. I always check with the teacher concerned if they mind me being in the lesson as I know what it is like to be observed but everyone is friendly and happy to help.

Despite being told that most of the lessons are taught in English it turned out that lots were in Nepali. I joined in where I could, helping with marking, singing and trying to communicate with the children with the limited Nepali I have. The lessons were: social studies, music, science, English, maths then lunch. After lunch were Nepali, general knowledge (GK) and computers.

I really enjoyed all the lessons. They follow a set pattern of repetition, memorisation and copying but the children seem engaged. Music was great fun with the teacher playing the harmonium and the children singing all sorts of songs. Three had instruments to play - a tambourine, maraca and drum. They started by singing do re mi (but in Nepali!) and ended in the same way.

After music was science about pollution then English where the children were learning about plurals. At lunchtime I spent half an hour drinking tea and chatting to the teachers then remembering I was supposed to be upstairs with Kiran's family for lunch. I headed up and was treated to daal bhat (rice and lentils) with minced chicken curry, spinach and garlic and vegetable curry.Then I had fresh mango. It was delightful.

I hurried down for the first lesson after lunch which was Nepali. I understood maybe 3% of the lesson and it made me think about children in the UK who have little English who are thrown into literacy lessons. The children near me were very good at trying to help but I can't read the script and had no idea what the grammar points were. It was eye opening but what I did pick up is that the strategies used for teaching both English and Nepali are exactly the same in the books.
Nepali Lesson...

I was summoned to the library at 2pm and there I found a most welcome cup of tea! I had had a conversation with one of the teachers yesterday about the British love of tea and she had arranged it specially. I was very touched and drank it with pleasure. Then I joined with class 2 who were in the library reading. They had dual language books so I read the English and the boy I was sitting with read the Nepali. It was a poem in Nepali and I managed to read the first line in Nepali and was very proud of myself. I then started to try to talk to the children in Nepali but this was limited and they found my accent very amusing.

For the final lesson I went up to the computer room.Here the children were using one of the programs I had taken over and were practising turning on the computers and drawing. Some of the drawings were fantastic:

At the end of the school lessons(3.20) the children do their homework in school.I went to visit class 1, aged 5 and 6, who were practising their numbers in English. I was able to help a little. Then they cleared up and we sang songs to end the day.

Nepali vowels!

The walk from school to the apartment.

After signing out I walked back through the streets to the apartment where I had a most welcome litre of water. The toilets at the school are best avoided! I then headed out to explore further and to try and find a Nepali phrasebook.

The walk to Patan Dhoka (Patan Gate) was through small streets with a myriad of shrines, shops and people. I found a wonderful, tranquil square with a large Buddha statue and a stupa. It was surrounded by typical Nepalese buildings.

Patan Dhoka
At Patan Dhoka I found a wonderful book shop with a lot of English novels - tempting! I also found a Nepali phrasebook with the most unlikely sayings such as "I have left my walking stick across the river" which I'm sure will come in most useful!. I carried on down the street to the huge supermarket which gives chaos a bad name. There were piles of everything in the aisles and no-one seemed to be putting anything away. I wandered round and round eventually managing to find a sterilising wash for fruit and vegetables, replacement biscuits and crackers, yak cheese, bread and butter. I paid then headed upstairs to the second floor where there was an equally huge home ware department. I bought a storage box which I defy any ant to get into, and a Nepal mug so I can have a proper mug of tea in the morning. I also solved the milk problem and bought instant porridge oats which only need water.

I wandered back along the streets, buying bananas on the way, and to Swotha Square. There I paused for a cup of excellent tea at the kiosk and ended the day with a book before heading upstairs for a shower, blog update and yak cheese on crackers for tea. 

In other news, I think I may have found my perfect Buddha....

A story:
About 20 years ago the police phoned KTS with news that they had found an abandoned 2 year old girl in Patan Durbar Square. The teachers went to find her and found an extremely ill and malnourished child. They rushed her to hospital and paid for her medical treatment for asthma, pneumonia and several blood transfusions. despite not being expected to live she pulled through and when well enough to be discharged was taken to the KTS children's home. Here she was nurtured and thrived taking classes at the school as she grew older and eventually taking on responsibilities as assistant matron in the school. She remained at KTS through her studies until one day she approached Kiran and said she wanted to leave and try her luck in Kuwait. He warned her against this due to the trafficking of women in the sex industry there but she went anyway,.
Nothing was heard of her for 2 years until she turned up at the school having returned. It was not clear whether she had escaped the sex trade. She asked for a job and Kiran was able to offer her the post of assistant matron once again. She had married and was able to support herself in her own lodgings near to the school and accepted the job. today she is still there as assistant matron who understands what the children are going through and who is testament to the family that children and adults who join KTS are part of in the past and for all their futures.


  1. I love the 2simple software its great for beginners. It sounds like your having a great time over there.

  2. Well done, Jane. I have spent a lovely half hour catching up with your news and intriguing, yet beautiful photos. The joy of your visit shines through all your words. Take care and mind those ants!

  3. So pleased you have access to tea! How nice of the teachers to brew you a cuppa.