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July 22, 1999

The following letter was written soon after the previous letter (#3). "Carol Kay/Mack/Cecil" refers to our aunt and uncle and their dog (respectively). It may seem odd to include a household pet in the opening of the letter, but trust me -- if you ever met Cecil, you'd agree that, in his case, it makes perfect sense.

Carol Kay/Mack/Cecil,

Sorry it took me so long to write.  I'm sure my mom has kept you up to date on what I'm doing here in general, so I'll try to mention some of the smaller details.  Nothing here is like America, so I could never list all of the unusual things.

  1. Nepal smells bad!  Even in the cities, pigs, goats, chickens, and even some deer roam in the streets.  Cows, of course, roam freely anywhere.  People seldom wash even though it is hot, which is especially bad on the overcrowded buses.  The pit latrines (which are often disturbingly close to the water pumps) are especially rancid.

  2. Nepali people are loud, abrupt, and intimidating.  It took me a few days to realize that my "family" members were not arguing all the time when they yelled at one another (and me).  They never say please or thank you and use a lot of imperative sentences.  "Mark, eat rice now!"  They try to help me study by pointing to my vocabulary words and yelling them at me.  This is probably due to the rote memorization used in their schools, where they memorize several hundred facts, word for word, and then write down the 50 or so which are requested on their final exam--word for word.

  3. Nepali people have a bizarre, uninformed love for America.  People expect me to be extremely intelligent and rich.  They also expect us to be either extremely lascivious or homosexual.  They always ask us how much our possessions cost and if we can fly them back to America with us.  They love to look at my pictures of home, my clothes, American money, etc.  Several people have told me they like America better than Nepal (they have very little self-respect) but cannot explain why (except for vague talk about how rich they would be in the U.S.).

  4. Nepali food is great!  We mix rice with some combination of dahl, vegetables, milk, or butter on one big plate and eat it all with our hand.  It's monotonous but great.
That's all for now.  Everything is great!  Write back.

Love,   Mark

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