‘WHERE ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM? Where is your home?’ These are Nepali questions you usually encounter in friendly, jovial dinner parties and wedding receptions in Kathmandu when a newly acquainted person tries to make break ice.
If the questioner is an elderly, he or she will ask you about the community, the caste you belong to, and your mool ghar in an attempt to learn more about your ancestral home.
And if you don’t blow them off by giving one word responses, even though such personal questions make you want to be brusque, this will almost always lead to another question: ‘You have a house in Kathmandu?’
Most Nepalis aspire to build a house in the capital. It is a benchmark through which Nepalis gauge the financial status of their countrymen. It is indeed a cultural quirk, which can perhaps be explained by a scene in Samrat Upadhyay’s novel, ‘The Guru of Love’, in which the protagonist is hounded by his in-laws for not owning a house in Kathmandu.
‘You must build a house, Ramchandra babu,’ they said to him at family gatherings. ‘Without a house of one’s own in this city, it doesn’t matter what you do.’ Continue reading…