The protocol of giving (invited?)

Gift Box
Gift Box (Photo credit: Maeflower72)

Last few weeks have been busy. Three days of marriage was just a beginning of meeting long lost cousins over and over again. There are now new bunch of cousins I proudly (while it lasts) call the in-laws. Suddenly my family size exceeds my expectation. Presumption being this new family formed of one husband and one wife. I fumbled upon a whole new class of relative (literally) disorder.

I’d expect this same with my better half, with variable expression. I have ordeals remembering names, faces and now the relations (family tree) of this huge conglomerate. For a selectively expressive introvert, I have difficulties keeping up with words and happy expressions. Alas, the world does not (or with difficulties) comprehend this irony – of the existence of the lesser speaking cults (or what-so-ever).

gift for bride’s and groom’s wedding reception?
Coming back to the post title, what I’d found is interesting. I did know the standard protocols of a wedding reception. If it was bride’s reception, it be NRs. 250 (or 500) in a wonderful envelope. If it were from grooms’ side, it be a bouquet of flowers (usually NRs. 250). Better trend here is the designed envelope with family seal and some pretty words. For additional cheesy bits (or emotional understandings) there is a huge wedding card given with lofty words of expression. I got few of these wedding Cards (Hallmark??) on my own wedding, and I must say, they are wonderful delights. These days, lots of wedding reception are combined. In that case, i’d suggest one envelope with some money and one bouquet. Talking about hard cash (inside this envelope); is usually given as a gesture of appreciation for the invitation and a congratulatory note to the newly weds, giving them some help to start their new life.

when visiting a patient in hospital?
Standard protocol if you visit a patient in hospital – friends or family was Horlick’s Jar of (yucky !! ) powder. I remember of a visit to my friend who’d been admitted for his appendectomy procedure ten years ago. Fresh out of high school, a bunch of us, took Horlicks (spelling ??) and some fruit. This is the unofficial standard protocol in Nepal. I also have stories from my father, who’d visit his mother (my grandmother) with the same Fruits + Horlicks combination. Added bonus here are biscuits and pomegranate. Digestive biscuits, somehow are favorite in hospitals, every patient has at least one of them (be it foreign exotic package or local Nepali one). The fruit pomegranate is another patient-visit-protocol-friendly food. Somehow, this fruit is is though to be holy grail among patient parties. Most of the ideas presented in this paragraph have been from my personal experience, working as an intern and medical officer in hospitals in Nepal.

when called for dinner?
Dinner protocol is new (shuffled) to me and my family. We are now directly following the western culture of getting a bottle of wine. Before it was usually fruits (not fruit-basket but, fruits in polythene plastic bags) or sometimes home made food. With good wines coming in affordable prices, we switched this protocol. Its relatively easy to buy one, one bottle of 750ml is not so heavy, and somehow looks exotic (or may be its a new fad). Plus, you get to drink the wine your self. This new protocol is ineffective for the vegans and non-alcoholics, thus a rollback protocol to fruits is always there. Also true for any household with joint family and family with grand-mother and grand-father around. Gotta respect the generations.

when visiting the in-laws?
New protocol, I’d learn this February. So what is it that says that I am a good in-law? First I’d have to omit the alcohol, simply because this being Nepal. There are elders who might not appreciate this. So there will not be any wine. Fruits are viable options, but as I found out that it took several days and several family visit to know the in-laws and introduce the new bride. So buying fruits every day would be hassle. Next stop was the Indian sub-continental favorite – the sweets. But this would too, become stale over days. We needed something that we could put a stock unit of and take part of it every day to a new household. The most brilliant idea we (not mine) could come up with, and frankly the best till now, was buying a packet of Son-pappadi. The sweat that lasts longer (expiry date of three months). They even sell a special made for diabetics patient.

I am not a keen fan of sweets, and specifically don’t like Sonpappadi (spelling??) but everyone I know loves it, and its easily available.

visiting a birthday party? “pasni” or “bratabanda” ?
lastly, something I have been rarely invited in these past ten years. Mainly because I outgrew the age, and my close kins are all grown up, and we all are waiting for the next generations.

Birthdays are the hardest, if its your friend, you give them something they like, If its your family cousins, you give them something you like. If its young adult, add a birthday card. If its adult adult, a tie for the gentleman would be my protocol. Finally if its a lady, then I am out of luck. I have no clue on what-so-ever on what girls like (except well for what my wife likes). I am clue less on my sisters and my mothers birthday. Yes, shame on me. 😦 . This is the reason why I have a smart wife, who helps me with my shortcomings.

pasni is the hindu ritual for a six month child, for coming of age (or something like that). This is easy, the traditional protocol being looking at this child, smiling, putting an envelope (with some money, obviously) in his/her hand. Looking at the parents, and telling them that the child looks very much like them, and is beautiful. Bam !! thats it. You get a free lunch or dinner.

bratabanda or brataman is another Hindu custom, this one specifically for boys usually at their early or late teen years. An envelope (with some money) is a great fall back plan. However, the saying which related “boys with toys” has a great meaning for me as well. And so I usually know what toy is appreciable, and is within my budget.

So there it is, my protocol of giving with few suggestions and shortcomings. Feels great to be writing again. Have lots of non-sensical stuffs to write about, some complains, and some purely medicine related. I also have a great whimsical plan to write fictions, and improve on my writing skills with it.

Next Post – Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:30pm – NST

law of the land – on social norms of nepali wedding

Government of Nepal had promulgated a law in 2033 BS. That’s, 37 years ago (1975 AD) – identifies maximum number of invitation to attend any celebration party or mass gathering (for wedding) at around hundred people. Here I discuss my personal opinions on pros and cons to my wonderful new discovery.

“Samajik Sudhar Ain – 2033BS”

I marry within next few months. There is a government rule that stops me from inviting more than 50 people in “janti” and at maximum 100 people in wedding reception. The rule is still in place, but no one seems to know it or follow it. For the last thirty five years, there are no cases filed against anyone who does not follow the rule. My problem is that now I know of this rule (and it bugs me). I now know the legal matters associated with wedding in Nepal. What is even more interesting is on how this law came about to be. The rule was put in place when Kings and Queens ruled Nepal. Imagine who in their right mind had this bright idea and a great foresight.

how is this law/rule wrong?

Nepal was Hindu kingdom up until few years back, and yes, Hindus have a great community sense. Not limiting myself to particular religion, I see joint family tradition, and huge community participation in almost every gathering. Even a small wedding or “bratabanda” (getting of age ceremony for boys) in a small hill or mountain village (with difficult pass and narrow trek paths) has around 50 guests. There are just too many relatives, friends and families on every invitation list. Our social dynamic makes us call the whole village to every small occasion. Enacting this rule, abrupt as it came thirty five years ago was bound to fail. I hear that, even the top government officials, army officials, ministers bypassed this rule. Today, very few know about it. Few points in favor of this,

  1. You certainly know a lot more people
  2. Your parents know even more people (you may, or may not know all)
  3. Your culture (most Nepali) has a far and wide reaching community participation
  4. Your neighbors are very important.
  5. There are lots of wedding reception you have already attended, to invite them all is a must.
  6. What would your friend think of you, if you didn’t invite him/her (or group of people)
  7. You work in an office. All (or most) must be invited.

how is this law/rule so good?

I seriously don’t want to call my third cousin whom I have only met twice in my life, both being in other wedding receptions. Personally, I don’t know her, and I doubt that I will ever know her (its not first, or second, come on). Few other points I favor,

  1. Obviously, Limiting the guest number is very economical.
  2. You know whom you are calling, and know him/her to be very important in your life.
  3. You can send out invitation to predefined number, and get a quick RSVP. (read below)
  4. You can select a smaller place, more comfortable, and spend the budget more on decoration or other stuff.
  5. You won’t have a rush hour – when almost all the guest come directly after the office hour (read below)
  6. Lastly, you can finally click good photos (comfortable pace) with all the guests.

Does anyone use RSVP (in Nepali wedding invitation card)?

For the past few years, there have been pretty amazing wedding card designs in Nepal. While I would love to design my own, I doubt that my mother will let me (I prefer minimalism and am against all-red-shade). Nevertheless, what bugs me, is the “RSVP” section is almost all the cards. For my personal inquiry, I wonder if anyone at all use this feature. Everyone seems to know what RSVP is, but somehow, no one seems to enforce it or follow it. I don’t think any family (organizer) know the actual number of people that would be attending the reception. Its basically a gimmick – copied and pasted. I hope it would change. (I would not be surprised if my wedding card has one).

Why is all the wedding reception in the evening?

The whole purpose to marry someone is to make it more holy (or religious, or love filled extravagant celebration). Shouldn’t this be celebrated in a broad day light, with good sun and clouds that are white? Why don’t the guest make time, for this celebration. Why do we always have to put guest first, and wait till five, so they finish their work, go home, change, and then come back to wish you. Isn’t any wedding first and foremost important to the couple, and then their families, and their closest friends? Most (if not all) do make their time on this day to be with you throughout the day. For me Primary guests are the close family members, Secondary being the closest friends. This idea of making tertiary guest all so important certainly bugs me.


P.S. – exams coming. Jan 31st. will reduce my posts for next few weeks. there are lots to write though. And few posts are already scheduled (function courtesy – WordPress).

Word "Nepali" in Devanagari Script.
Word “Nepali” in Devanagari Script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the Nepali way of buzy-ness (business) – part i of ii

English: Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal
English: Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aditi had a conversation with Thomas (forgot his real name) from Europe. What he liked about Nepal (and what I now think is adept for all the South Asian, and developing countries in the world)- that every one, in some way is an entrepreneur. Here’s how…

a story I know
Seven years ago, during months of November, Mr Wagle (name changed) and his wife came knocking at our place (my parents place). Stayed with us for 20 days, and moved out to a small one room (12 by 10 inch) rent apartment (?) which is 15 minutes walk away. On the second month in Kathmandu Mr Wagle had a job to run an office canteen (in partnership). Worked there for next nine months. When this office moved out, he began selling one liter (in plastic bags) morning milk from national dairy association (DDC Nepal) for few months and then skipped this to become a small “nanglo pasale” near a bus stand.

Nanglo” – a small bamboo made, approximately 2 feet radius, flat plate/dish.
Pasale” – shopkeeper

Nanglo pasale means a shopkeeper with a size of shop that fits in this small dish/plate. Mostly selling small stuffs, like chewing gum, cigarette, biscuits, etc. They are super mobile, open up early in the morning, close late night, can carry their shop around, and are somewhat illegal (run from police and local authorities).

So what does this absolute mobile shop near a bus stop do? Bus and micro-bus often require coins, and when they run out they need someone nearby who can give them coins in exchange for a small price. Last I heard, 10 one rupee coins cost NRS 11. This earned him good money, and he could even finance his daughters wedding. After four year, Mr Wagle recently upgraded to another job. He is now a shopkeeper to a small coffee shop. Cold and crowded with monthly rent of four thousand, this is his fifth job in Kathmandu. His daily income now is around two thousand, which is around five hundred to one thousand of savings every day. He is struggling, but has enough to make his life available for this busy life in Kathmandu.

back to being entrepreneur.. .
Any one can open up a coffee shop in Kathmandu. If its a small shop with no rent/legal problems, you don’t even have tax cuts. There are (mobile) vegetable shops in every nooks and crannies of Kathmandu. Every evening food stalls spring up in most town centers. Most of the central city roads are usually lined with street shops at side lanes. They are too many of them, and often it becomes difficult to walk. ..

will be back.. with part ii .. in few days time..
I want to find/write more examples of what i think is nepali entrepreneurship, and hence doing my first local reasearch. Sadly there is very less in internet. I seriously need to go find a party venue for my wedding. Plus – a wedding photographer, invitation card designer, and a tailor for daura suruwaal.

P.S. Aditi is a friend, colleague, partner and my boss. We’ve been together for seven years and getting married soon. Exited. Will soon be writing few words on skewed (nepali + english + indian) wedding culture of Kathmandu.

next post – December 31st – 9.30pm NST