Getting culture shock when you move to a new country (culture) is a common thing. Almost all travelers, for business or pleasure or for long time settlement, go through this ordeal of getting shocked. This happens when they find or experience something which normally doesn’t fit their cultural norms and values and worldview.
Coming to Nepal and being shocked is common too. Or perhaps travelers to Nepal get more culture shocks.
If you are planning to come to Nepal, then here is a list of things which will shock you culturally. This list with some suggestions has been prepared to minimize the shock.
The List Goes Like This
- People eat their food by hand. Right hand. And everyday cooked rice is eaten as lunch and dinner. No need to worry. You will get spoon and fork or chopsticks and a variety of different drinks and dishes.
- Public display of affection (kissing) is considered offensive and those who display it are taken as characterless. If you are here, keep it indoors.
- Buses stop even in places there aren’t bus stops. Just wave. They will stop.
- Keeping shoes or sandals or slippers upside down is considered to bring bad luck. Some may rebuke you if you do so. You know what you need to do.
- Physical disciplining such as hitting or spanking a child is not uncommon. You will see it almost everywhere in Nepal. Don’t try to intervene when you see such thing. Like said before, it’s disciplining.
- Animals are sacrificed during Hindu festivals and in other activities like visits to witch doctor. And again please don’t intervene. It will offend people religiously, if you stop them from killing animals in the name of god.
- There is very old community of people, Newar, found all over Nepal, mostly in the Kathmandu valley. What happens in this community is that, at the age of seven, pre-adolescent daughters are married to “bel” (wood apple) which is the symbol of Lord Vishnu. He is one of the three chief Hindu gods. As a result, Newari women are not labeled widow if their husbands die.
- When women/girls have their menstruation period, they are rendered impure and therefore isolated from the rest of family members and kept in a shed. This century-old practice, known in Nepali as “chaupadi”, is prevalent mostly in far and mid-western regions of Nepal. But its softer form can be seen in cities like Kathmandu too.
- When in Nepal, don’t expect things to go on time. You will face delay almost in all activities. There is even a phrase “Nepali Time” which is used sarcastically to point out delay in activities.
- Though Nepal is the second richest country in water resources, there is still the looming problem of daily power outage. Generally this problem wrecks havoc in the lives of Nepali folks during winter when the load-shedding hours can stretch up to 16 hours a day. But there are solutions like inverter or generator. If you have chosen a good grade hotel, then the no-power problem won’t affect you.
- And the last thing, strike or aka “bandh” in Nepali. Although it’s been quite a time since the last strike, you never know when it will strike upon you. And in the worst case scenario, you might be stranded in nowhere. No buses. No open shops. So before you come here, pay attention to news related to Nepal. And if there is strike all of a sudden when you are in trip, don’t panic. Listen to your guide if you have taken one. Or take help from locals. Nepalese are helpful folks.
What to Do Now?
Read the list over and over again. Read the suggestions over and over again.
Be open-minded and lessen the damages of culture shock in Nepal.