Jane Wilson-Howarth

Blog

 
 

Six Eggs

Wednesday, 21 April 2021
The third time I visited Nepal, it was with my family when the children were young. My husband’s work took us to live on Rajapur Island for a couple of years. I’m no linguist but recognised I’d need to learn Nepali if I was to have any kind of social life as not many the local women spoke English and few had even gone to primary school.
We employed help in the house and Guliya Tharu, mother to eight children, joined us. She had never had the opportunity to go to school but shared her maternal skills and mothered me too. She had already explained that if I used the word phul, I must distinguish the word for flowers from eggs by mentioning chickens or ducks. One day I asked her to buy six chicken’s eggs (kukhura ko phul). Or at least that’s what I thought I’d asked her to buy.
She started to snigger. ‘Buy what, madam?’ She’d heard ‘dogs’ eggs’ (kukur ko phul) and exploded with merriment. When she told her eldest daughter, Sita, she too joined in uncontrolled hysterics.
I am a medical doctor and also have a degree in zoology but illiterate Guliya decided that she should give me a lesson in anatomy and linguistics. Conveniently, a male dog trotted by. Guliya said, ‘See madam? Under the dog there are two eggs, and also one banana that he uses to make more dogs.’ Then I understood that dogs’ eggs could only be testicles. No wonder the women had been so amused!
After that, even when I pronounced chicken’s eggs correctly, Guliya’s face would crease up, she’d start to quake and she’d run off with her hand over her mouth as she failed to stifle her laughter. Any mention of bananas gave Guliya and Sita the opportunity to tease me and when I discovered that oranges were a euphemism for breasts I began to feel insecure whenever I talked about food. I was delighted that my idiocy made the women more relaxed with me, but I continued to struggle with the pronunciation of the strange unfamiliar consonants in Nepali. In particular, I couldn’t make clear the difference between char, four, and chha, six. Often I’d approach a vendor and slightly nervously try to say, ‘Please give me six chickens eggs.’ They’d pick out four. ‘No, I’d like six.’
‘But I have given you four, memsahib.’
‘I need two more.’
‘Why did you ask for four, then?’
I started asking for five instead.
I loved the straightforwardness of my neighbours on Rajapur. I never was quite sure whether they were laughing with me or at me but we laughed a great deal and it was good to know that they would put me right if, inadvertently, I was being rude.
 
This snippet is an abstract adapted from Jane’s memoir A Glimpse of Eternal Snows which is available as an audiobook (from Audible), an e-book (from Bradt Travel Guides) or in paperback (from Speaking Tiger).

This edited excerpt first appeared in the Kathmandu Tribune KtmTribune on 21st April 2021 thanks to writer Arun Budhathoki.
Posted: 21/04/2021 11:42:58 by cmsadmin | with 0 comments
Filed under: A Glimpse of Eternal Snows, audiobook, Brad Travel Guides, language, language gaffs, memoir, Nepal, Nepali, t



    Pontifications
    Travel
    Wildlife
    Writing
    May 2021(2)
    April 2021(3)
    March 2021(4)
    October 2020(1)
    August 2020(2)
    July 2020(1)
    June 2020(1)
    May 2020(1)
    April 2020(4)
    March 2020(4)
    January 2020(1)
    October 2019(2)
    June 2019(2)
    April 2019(2)
    March 2019(9)
    January 2019(2)
    October 2018(3)
    August 2018(3)
    June 2018(4)
    May 2018(5)
    April 2018(3)
    March 2018(1)
    January 2018(4)
    October 2017(4)
    August 2017(3)
    July 2017(2)
    June 2017(2)
    May 2017(1)
    April 2017(1)
    March 2017(4)
    January 2017(1)
    October 2016(7)
    August 2016(2)
    July 2016(1)
    June 2016(1)
    January 2016(3)
    October 2015(1)
    August 2015(1)
    July 2015(1)
    May 2015(2)
    April 2015(2)
    March 2015(2)
    January 2015(3)
    October 2014(4)
    July 2014(1)
    June 2014(4)
    May 2014(1)
    April 2014(1)
    January 2014(4)
    October 2013(1)
#righttobreathe / 100 word story / 100-word story / 50 Camels / 50 Camels and She's Yours / A Glimpse of Eternal Snows / A Wide Woman on a Narrow Boat / Aberdeen / Abuja / accidents / Active Fairness System / Adam Reta / adventure stories / advertising / affairs / age concern / air pollution / air quality / Akwanga / alcoholism / Alicia Ostriker / Americanisms / Amharic / animal reservoirs / ANM / Annapurna / antelope / anthology / Arrivals / Asad / audacity / audible / audio musical project / audiobook / author / Author from Hull / author interview / author reading / author-to-author / Auxiliary Nurse Midwife / Baglung / Bagmati / Bajaj / Bajaj Pulsar / Bajura / banknotes / BBC Radio Cambridgeshire / bear precautions / Benjamin Langley / Bertrand Russell / Bethlehem Attfield / Bhotang / bicycle / bike trip / birdlife / birds / black bear / black kites / black pine forest / Blitz / Bloodshot Books / Blue sheep / book launch / border guards / Boreal Wildlife Centre / Brad Travel Guides / Bradt / Bradt Travel Guides / Brahmin / breakfast / bridge / brown bear / buckwheat / buckwheat bird / buffalo cart / Building Back Better / BuildingBackBetter / bulbul / camaraderie / Cambridge / Cambridge writers / Cambridgeshire / camping hazards / canals / carcinogens / caste / catastrophe / cave diving / celtic / chaite-dhan / Chandragiri / Chele / childbirth / children's books / Chirang / Chisapaani / Chisapani / Chobhar / Chobhar Hill / Chough / city cycling / civet / climate change / clinics / cold desert / colourful hat / comfort / coming of age / coronavirus / Covid / covid vaccine / COVID vaccines / Covid-19 / cows / creating characters / cycling / cyclist / daisy chain / dal bhat / dangerous wildlife / dawn / dawn chorus / Dead Branches / demonstration / Department of Roads / desert / development / development work / Devon / Dhading / Dhading besi / Dhangadhi airport / Dhaulagiri / Dhee / dhulomandu / doctor memoir / Dolpa / Dolpo / domestic violence / Dr. Katrina Butterworth / dragon / dragons / Drakmar / drinking water / droppings / Dunai / dust / early marriage / earthquake / earthquake alarm / earthquake damage / earthquake today / earthquakes / East Anglia / eco-resort / eco-tourism / Edinburgh / efficacy / elbow sneezing / embankments / emergency / England / English journey / English language / environmental crisis / Eräkeskus / eternal snows / Ethiopia / ethnic cleansing / evacuation / evocative smells / Ewell / expat / exploitation / Fagu Purnima / Falgun / feelgood read / Fens / festival / festival of colour / festivals in March / fiction / Finland / fire-tailed sunbird / fishing / fishtail / flash fiction / flash literature / flash prose / flood protection / floods / 'folk / football / footbridge / footpath / for / forest / forest fires / friends / Gai Tihar / gaming / Ganesh himal / Gangetic Plain / garden / garment / Ghami / Ghemi / ghoral / giant crab spider / giving birth / global warming / goodread / goral / gorge / Gorkha / gossip / GP writer / grandad / Greece / grey-headed canary-flycatcher / haiku / handwashing / hand-washing station / hangry / happiness / happyness / hare / Hatibhan / hawkmoth / health assistant / Heffers / Heffers bookshop / Hell's Grannies / Henningham Family Press / himal / Himalaya / Himalayan Black Bear / Himalayan Goral / Himalayan griffon vulture / Himalayan Hostages / Himalayan Kidnap / Himalayan serow / Himalayan Sunrise / Himalayan woolly hare / Himalayas / himals / Hindu festival / Hindu kingdom / Holi / Holi Purnima / holocaust / home delivery / honey buzzard / hoopoe / horror / hot springs / Hotel Deep of Worldtop / Hotel Peace Palace / house crows / how long to write a book? / human kind / human spirit / idyllic childhood / Indonesia / Indra Jatra / infidelity / inspiration / inspiring fiction for children / Ireland / irrigation / Is She Dead in Your Dreams? / jackal / Janajibika Hotel / Jane Wilson-Howarth / Jews / Joe Wilson / Jomosom / Jomsom / joy / jungle / Jungle book / Juphal / Kaag Beni / Kag Beni / Kali Gandaki / Kali Gandaki gorge / Kalopani / Kalunki / Karnali River / Kashigaon / Kashigoan / Kathmandu / Kathmandu Valley / Katrina Butterworth / kestrel / khana / Khartoum / kickstart / kidnap / kindness / Kipling / Kipling's jungle / kites / Kolkata / Krishna / Kumari / Kurds / Kurentar / Kusma / labour / ladoos / lama / Lamjung himal / lammergeier / lammergeyer / landscape / landslide / landslides / language / language gaffs / Large Indian civet / largest tribuary of the Ganges / Laxmi Puja / leave no one behind / leave no-one behind / LeaveNooneBehind / letter-writing / life lessons / Livelihoods / living goddess / lockdown / lockdown project / LoMantang / Lombok / London pigeon / loneliness / Lord Ganesh / Lord Krishna / loss and recovery / love / Lukhu river / Machhapuchare / Makwanpur / Manbu / mani wall / married life / Martinselkosen / Mary Kingsley / masala tea / maskmandu / masks / maternal mortality / Maya and the Dragon / medical emergency / medical evacuation / medical memoir / medical Students / Melamchi / memoir / memoirist / memory / Michael Rosenberg / microfiction / middle grade readers / Middle Hills / mineral water bottles / Monsoon / morning mist / Moth Snowstorm / motorbike / motorbike trip / motorbikes / motorcycle / MottMacDonald / mountain medicine / mountains / mouse hare / mouse-hare / Muktinath / Mukwanpur / mulberries / Mustang / nag puja / narrator / narrow boat / National Reconstruction Authority / nature / Naubisi / neighbours / Nepal / Nepal Communitere / Nepal road trip / Nepal roadtrip / Nepal Valley / Nepal wildlife / Nepali / Nepali food / Nepali tea / Nepali Times / Nepali topi / Nepali wildlife / Nigeria / Nigiri himal / nilgai / Nilgiri / Nilgiri South / non-fiction / Nonsuch Palace / Nonsuch Park / Northumberland / novel / nuthatch / Nuwakot / obstetrics / onions / on-line newspaper / orb spider / ox-cart / Oxford / Oxford vaccine / pandemic / pangolin / parenting / Passer montanus / passing places / passive pleasure / Patan / Patan Durbar / Patan Durbar Square / payer / People in Need charity / percussion / Pfizer vaccine / PHASE / PHASE Nepal / PHASENepal / Phewa Tal / Philippines / Phoksundo / phonetics / photoktm2016 / pigeons / pika / pike / pilgrims / plastic waste / pleasure / PM 2.5 / poem / poetry / Pokhara / Police My Friend / pollution / polytunnel / pony trekking / post earthquake recovery / Potatoes / powder / pregnancy / Pridhamsleigh Cavern / publishing / puja / Pul Chowk / Pulsar / Pungmo / Purnima / Purnima programme / Pyncnonotus cafer / Qatar / rabies / Rajapur / Rajapur bazaar / Rajapur Island / Rajapur market / Rajapur town / rat snake / reading / reading aloud / Real Fairness for Real men / reconstructed dialogue / recording / Red Dawn Rising / red-vented bulbul / refugee camp / refugees / relief work / Remover of obstacles / Requiem / rhododendron / rice / ricefields / Richard Mabey / Ringmo / risk takers / river crossing / river island / river-crossing / road trip / roadtrip / Rock Doves / rock shelters / Roe Deer / Royal Enfield Riders Club / Royle's pika / rubbish / Rufus-breasted Niltava / rupees / Russian border / rustling / rustlings / safety / Sally Haiselden / samosa / Sappros / Sarengkot / sarus cranes / scorpion / screening / Second World War / Seeta Siriwardena / self-harm / senses / serow / Setopati / Shadow Spark Publishing / Shangri La / Shangri-la / Shanti bazaar / Shey-Phoksundo National Park / Shivapuri / Shivapuri Nagajung National Park / Shivapuri National Park / Shivapuri Village / Shivapuri Village Resort / short fiction / short story / shrikes / silk / Simon Howarth / Sindhupalchowk / Sinhala / Sinhalese / Six degrees of Separation / skipper butterflies / skippers / snow leopard / Snowfed Waters / social isolation / solid waste / solid waste disposal / Soti / South Sudan / sparrows / Speaking Tiger / species leap / spider venom / Spiny babblers / spotted owlet / squirrel / Sri Lanka / Sri Lankan author / Stephanie Green / stink bug / stolpersteine / street art / street dogs / Subsistence agriculture / Sudan / Suli Gad Khola / Suli Gad river / Summit Air / sunbird / sunrise / Surrey / suspended bridge / Sussex / Suttee / t / Tahr / tales / tar tattoo / tato pani / Tatopani / TBS Kathmandu / tea / tea shop / teacher / teashop / Teku / Teku Hospital / Teku infectious diseases hospital / terai / Thamel / Thankot / Tharu / Tharu people / The Book Warren / The British School Kathmandu / The Lonely Cat / Thessaloniki / time / To be blessed / totobobo / traffic / traffic jam / traffic rules / traffic uncles / transHimalaya / transHimalayan / translation / travel / travel anthology / travel narrative / travel writing / traveling with children / travelling with children / tree sparrows / trekking / Tribhuvan International Airport / trust / Tsirang / Twin Otter / Uganda / UK / UK aid / UK aid in Nepal / UKAid / unplanned pregnancy / Upper Mustang / urban cycling / urban life / urban pollution / urban water supply / vaccinating / vaccination / vaccine / Valley / vampires / vegetarian / velvet-fronted nuthatch / Viiksimontie / Village dogs / village life / volunteering / vulture / Wai / Wanderlust / water supplies / water tankers / West Sussex / western Nepal / white lies / WHO / widower / wild goat / wild places / wildlife / wildlife stories / William Matthews / winter madness / winter Wheat / Witchford / women of a certain age / Women Travellers / words / wordsmith / World Book Day / World Book Day 2020 / World Cup 1990 / World Environment Day / world's deepest gorge / writer / writers group / writer's life / writing / writing about writing / writing characters / writing exercise / writing for children / writing group / writing habits / writing prompts / xenophobia / year fives / yeti / young mother / young motherhood / Your Child Abroad / zoonoses