Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shaking Up in Pepsi Cola

Volunteer Society Nepal (VSN) is a Kathmandu based non-government organisation (NGO) founded in 2002.

Upon arrival in the capital, I 'checked-in' to a local host family in the town of Pepsi Cola and was assigned to volunteer with a construction team at a local school.

The town was called Pepsi Cola simply because the international pop drink had it's factory there. And you would know the moment you are in Pepsi Cola town when you are graced with many red-white-blue posters hanging along the roadside stalls. The town only began to flourish after the establishment of the factory which opened up employment opportunities in the vicinity. As such, the town is relatively new and everywhere you go, there is bound to be some form of construction work going on. Interestingly, most of the building seems to be only 'almost' complete. Either the support beams are exposed on the roof or a single lonely building seems to be waiting for the neighbouring blocks to be constructed next to it.
I worked in a garden construction project for the school. The garden area was pretty much barren to begin with except for a few sad looking potted plants which gets ocassionally kicked at by the school children during break times. So armed with some gardening tools and our bare hands, we managed to transform the plot of small land to resemble a garden.

The construction process was truly memorable. We had our fair share of hard work with the sun beaming down on our pespiration soaked bodies, scratched and jagged nails from digging into pails upon pails of crushed bricks, blister-covered palms from repeated hammering of bricks and long hours of squatting on the ground to work the soil. We also had our fair share of fun and joy with the school children helping us in almost every task from carrying heavy bricks to digging the soil. The volunteers fostered friendships quickly and we spent so much time together - going for lunches, having late night movie sessions, squeezing in the local buses, going on sightseeing trips, playing games and learning about the different cultures - which included learning how to swear in the different languages! :P

I also learnt to speak basic and proper Nepalese language thanks to the language courses provided by VSN as well as the daily practise sessions with my host family - the Basnet family. The family invited me to their family gatherings and I also got to taste some interesting food during my stay there. What amazes me most was their spice box with which Puna Dhai always manages to whip up meals after meals of tasty Dhal Bhaat!

These are actually Nepalese chocolates
Thinly sliced deep-fried crispy bitter gourd chips
Starter before Dhal Bhaat

In Pepsi Cola town, there's only two restaurants - Michung and The Hut. The food offered in the menus by the two restaurants are mostly similar and rather limited. Nevertheless, it has kept the volunteers looking forward to lunch everyday!

MoMos - steamed
MoMos - deep fried (favourite of Ine)
Kimaroti - like a pie, deep fried version (favourite of Martin)
French Fries - Nepalese style
Thukpa - noodle soup
Chilli Chicken (favourite of Stephano)
Chilli Chips (another favourite of Stephano)
Fried Rice (my favourite)
Hide & Seek Chocolate Chips (the volunteer's official favourite brand)

Looking back now, I can't help but miss the sights, sounds, volunteers, residents of Pepsi Cola town and the students in CBIA.

Will I be back?

No comments: