In this 21st century, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the charm of travelling abroad has not died down. People from developing countries like Nepal commonly go abroad in search of employment or for further studies, of late also for holidays.
But, many of those travelling abroad still display the same old way of life, some common things that set Nepalis abroad apart from the rest of the world. One can even translate this and say that you can take a Nepali out of Nepal, yet you cannot take Nepal or its ways out of the Nepali.
As someone in your family or someone you know has been abroad or is still abroad, we are sure you are quite familiar with some or most of the things we have listed below.
(Disclaimer: We are not being judgemental here. It is just a list of some common things that we find interesting.)
1. Packing bags full of food
Did you watch this video? Can you relate yourself or your family member to this?
Though there is a strict policy at many international airports regarding packaged food, Nepali people tend to show negligence or ignorance towards such rules.
Since most Nepali people are sensitive when it comes to money, they refrain from spending money on food while travelling. So, they tend to carry a lot of food with them inside their luggage, and even in the hand-carry bag–enough for those 10 to 16-hour flights–hoping to eat their homemade items abroad and to minimise their expenses. Nepalis are also infamous for carrying homemade pickles, thinking that they are hard to find abroad.
2. Taking and publishing selfies with everything
For many Nepalis with decent incomes, travelling abroad is the only time they fly on a plane. So when they board an aeroplane, probably for the first time, they take a lot of selfies, pictures with the plane, from the plane and pictures over the clouds.
When they reach the host nation too, watching the landscapes with all those tall buildings, seas, oceans, they see in the movies unravel in front of them in real life, they start clicking pictures of everything. After landing, the first few days or even weeks are all about pictures, as they take selfies with everything and bombard their social media with the photos.
3. Converting currency in every purchase
Even in Nepal, people tend to calculate all the money they spend here and there. When they go outside Nepal, interestingly enough, the calculations, in their head, still occur in Nepali rupees. So when they buy grocery items, spend on entertainment and even when they get their wages/salaries, they intuitively tend to convert the price of the item into the Nepali currency. Given the foreign exchange rate, they either do it by using a calculator or simply in their head.
4. Comparing the food or taste
Oh, my food! Is there any person on this planet Earth who can live without food? Everyone consumes food daily. Plus as Nepalis, a unique species, one can eat double the ounce of food in comparison to that of an average foreigner.
But, when abroad, one has to eat the local food there regardless of whether it tastes good or awful. Getting homesick and bored with eating the bland or greasy fast food, the comparison starts. And unconsciously, one wonders about the food at home, the juicy momos on every street of the country and the cost of the food they are eating.
5. Buying the cheapest souvenirs in dozens
If you have been abroad, for whatever reason, when you come back to Nepal–either for visits or permanently, you surely have received a long list of gifts to bring back with you. Is there even any Nepali who can avoid this, and not bring back anything, not even souvenirs?
Hence, your luggage is sure to be heavy.
But, unless you are rich, you will not be buying expensive stuff. Normally, one would be buying cheap but good-looking, typical stuff of that foreign land, so that they can make all their friends, relatives happy with those souvenirs when they return to their home country. And, doing so in bulk costs you less. So as a money-saving individual, a trip to a pound shop or dollar store is a must.
6. Shopping chocolates at duty-free shops
Shopping does not end with the list. So, people, before boarding their flights back home, make a customary trip to duty-free shops to bring back home chocolates at the very least.
Almost every one of those who fly to foreign land expects to make money, more than what they earn in Nepal. So it is safe to say that people back home assume they must get rich soon after they land. Well, they indeed make more money in a short time. But, the expenses there make it hard for them to save too. So these duty-free shops give them the perfect opportunity to shop more cheaply and keep the people happy.
7. Bargaining at every shop
As we said, you cannot take the Nepali ways out of a Nepali. So, the Nepalis who enjoyed bargaining for clothes, accessories with the shopkeeper here are more likely to continue doing it abroad as well. A typical Nepali does bargain; after all, it gives you the best price possible.
So wherever they go, this ‘satisfying’ habit is hard to get rid of. Whether it is in Nepal or a foreign country, a true Nepali bargains with the shopkeeper again and again.
8. Making noises in public
Talking loudly with a friend you meet on the streets is one of the interesting habits of Nepali people. The habit disturbs other people, yet some Nepalis continue to do so. When they see another Nepali, they get excited, talk in the Nepali language and tend to talk loudly. Likewise, you can see Nepalis being noisy on the streets, train or subway abroad. Some are even seen playing loud Nepali folk songs (dohori) on the trains.
9. Talking Nepali politics
Another major quintessential quality of being a Nepali is to curse Nepali politicians and say politics is bad. While living in Nepal, this is a very common saying. The disinterest is such that they start to dodge or ignore any political discussions or even think about them.
Yet, interestingly, when Nepalis go abroad, they get influenced by the foreign culture, great leaders, and their political stability. They start talking with their friends comparing Nepali and foreign politics, saying Nepali leaders should do this, or that, and how things can go better back home. Ironic?
10. Getting excited about beaches
Nepal is a landlocked country, so seeing the seas or oceans for the first time is a thrill. So whenever they are going abroad, the first thing on their bucket list is to go to beaches, play in the sea and take pictures for their social media. And even before going abroad, the conversation starts about oceans, beaches, way before they even board the flights.