Happy Teej, everyone!
Tomorrow marks the main day of this three-day Hindu festival, in which women across Nepal and Northern India gather together in their finest saris to enjoy a feast hosted by the men of the community. It’s the one day in which Nepali women, who work exhaustingly hard all year round, are free to do… nothing. It’s also a day for them to celebrate an unusual degree liberation and freedom of expression, as they sing songs and dance dances together in large groups. Local Teej festivites have been keeping me (and all my ex-pat neighbors) up well into the wee hours of the morning, but it’s still fun to see yet another side of this festival culture so integral to Nepal.
Along this line… I mentioned in an earlier entry that we use two different calendars here, the standard “Gregorian” calendar used in the rest of the world, as well as Nepali’s “Bikram Sambat,” which runs nearly 59 years ahead of schedule. As you can imagine, this adds to the constant baseline of confusion in clinic.
For instance, a patient may say that they’ve had difficulty breathing since Kartik. But as I don’t automatically know where Kartik falls in the Nepali year (turns out it’s during October/ November), I have to go hunting through my day-planner to figure out how long they’ve been plagued by their dyspnea.
Similarly, ascertaining due dates for pregnant patients in our antenatal clinic presents an annoying challenge — one that only a manual pregnancy wheel (or complicated long-hand formula) can solve. The calculator app on my iPhone is useless when the year is 2071 (our current Nepali year). It gives an estimated gestational age of something like “[negative] 2,951 weeks.” At least the Nepali calendar is also comprised of twelve months — each with roughly 31 days (but ranging from 28 to 32, I think) — so a pocket pregnancy wheel actually does the trick.
To make matters even more complicated, our medical assistants are in the habit of recording time fractionally, so that a patient may have had “nighttime fevers since 3/12.” In this context, the notation is meant to indicate that fevers have been ongoing for 3 months of the total twelve in a year – rather than, as I first thought, March 12th (or even the equivalent Nepali date, Phagun 28th). Similarly, “Chest pain since 4/7” designates “four days [of the possible seven in a week],” and “Return to clinic in 3/52” means come back for another check-up in three weeks’ time. But I’m getting used to it. =)
And now, speaking of TIME…
I had the most WONDERFUL time with my sister Jessica and her boyfriend Matt when they visited here earlier this month! It was such fun to share this amazing world with them, and to make new memories of adventures exploring Kathmandu & Pokhara, traveling across the country by bus (a slightly less-fun adventure), and being surrounded by the beauty of Nepal’s spectacular geography and people. You’ve probably seen some Facebook pics already (these two are great about posting stuff!), but here are a few highlights. As my sister said, though, “There’s just no WAY to really grasp this place without seeing it in person!”
Thanks for making the long trip, you two!! It was AMAZING! =)