Three days ago I returned to a life of luxury after a two months stay in Nepal. Luxury is mattress, sheets and pillows, a bath, hot water, as much food as I want, when I want it, a flush toilet, clean clothes, drinking water on tap, electric light, heating, tv, radio and internet.
I lived in the village of Badikhel in the Kathmandu valley. A family were paid a pittance to provide me with room and board. I ate as they did, twice daily — dal bhaat. Bhaat is cooked white rice. Dal is the thin lentil soup poured over the rice as protein. A table spoon of vegetables and sometimes a little raw vegetable (pickle) completes the traditional Nepalise meal. Consequent to my inability to eat the large portion of white rice offered me I lost two kilo during my stay. I look like a stick insect. I now know for sure why people in the third world are thin.
Food is eaten with the right hand (the left hand is reserved for another purpose). Using the hand one mixes together the dal, rice and vegetable, picks up a mouth-size portion and, using the thumb like a scoop, crams the mixture into the mouth. All very sensual. Hands are washed before and after the meal with cold water poured from a jug. No soap nor towel. The hands drip dry, or you can use your scarf. The incidence of gastro-intestinal infection in Nepal is very high. Call me a snob, or a coward, but after my first attempt to eat like a local I requested a spoon.