Mamhka The First
Arriving in Mamkha was very different to any if the other places in Nepal I've worked in. The local people seemed at first to be a mixture of uninterested or suspicious, far from the hellos from across the street from strangers in the Terai or the insistence that I drink Rakshi with everybody the second I woke up in Sindhupalchok. I soon realised that this was merely uncertainty. Most people here have not been exposed to many Westerners. A few sentences in Nepali later and the majority of people seemed to accept I was there and just carry on. The epitome of Nepali village life, "Oh you here, what are you doing? Okay, you seem alright, I'll carry on with what I'm doing then". This said I certainly made a few blunders, with the differences in adherence to and dogma of cultural practises and ethnicities inside villages, as much as between districts I guess it was inevitable. They majority of people here are Rai, ex-Dalit or Chettri. I have no idea which group I offended but there were a few awkward moments that generally involved elderly women shouting at me, younger women trying to explain what I'd done and then the older women shouting at them. To be fair though nobody takes these things to heart and it's well understood an unintentional mistake is...well, unintentional and not meant to cause offence, (providing, as in this instance, you apologise, abandon washing and scarper quickly away from the drinking and washing water spot). Mamkha is practically unspoilt, the vista offers a view strangely devoid of the majority of concrete and tin abhorrences against traditional building practises. Situated between 50m cliffs and the jungle, (complete with leopards). Calmer than anywhere I'd visited so far, you could see the age in the stone, mud, dung, wood and thatch buildings. All build with the hall mark 'Raato Maato' (Red Mud) the landscape is dominated by. The unrelenting atmosphere of quiet village life atmosphere almost suffocating, until a few days in you give in and just...accept it.