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December 2, 1999 (Email)
Thanksgiving in Nepal

Thanksgiving was a huge success. I made applesauce (very good payoff for how easy it is to make) --- 2 parts apples (chopped, not peeled) and 1 part water mixed together and boiled (I used a pressure cooker) until mushy and the water has largely boiled off. Add 1 part sugar, 1 part water, some cinnamon, and some clove. Stir the mixture and boil slowly until a good gooey consistency. (A very long time, while the water again boils off). Add one part unboiled, chopped apples to the sauce to make crunchy.

I also made a cake (Sommer's birthday was a few days after Thanksgiving) using the usual cake ingredients -- milk, eggs, flour, salt, vinegar, baking powder, sugar -- cooked in a stovetop "miracle oven". You, literally, would not believe how well it came out. It rose and everything. I also made some chocolate icing which was also very very good.

In addition, we had marinated chicken - some grilled, some fried; cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes; StoveTop Stuffing; green beans; fruit salad; cookies and wine brought by Steve from Kathmandu; and two pumpkin pies (also made using a miracle oven). There was more than enough food (even by Thanksgiving standards!) for 14 people (Me, Virginia, Kraig, Bill, Zack, and Larry from Janakpur; Vince and Sarah - VSO volunteers also living in Janakpur; Sommer, Jill, Elizabeth, and Stephanie from my training group; Steve; and Meena - a Nepali friend of the other volunteers).

I can't repeat enough how satisfying it was to be able to celebrate an American holiday here -- and to do it properly. I think Thanksgiving would have been difficult (psychologically) at an isolated post. Plans for Christmas and New Year's are already developing. I know for sure that I'll be in Pokhara for New Year's Eve - with most of my training group. Thuy, a volunteer who lives near Pokhara (lucky!) will find a place we can all stay (other than a hotel) while we are there.

There is also a festival beginning in 12 days at Sommer's post. Several of us will be going there to watch the bisi (buffalo) slaughter. This festival only happens once every 4 years, and I hear that it is as bloody as Dasain (which I missed, being in Kathmandu).

I don't think I've ever heard of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but it sounds familiar. Is it based on a European game show?

I've been getting e-mails from Carol-Kay and from you. I'm not sure what's happening with the magazines - I've gotten one Scientific American, but no Games or West Virginia Living (or whatever it's called). The last package I got (2 weeks ago) had Trident gum, Pez, and breath mints (all good). Mail is dropping off -- but I don't miss it at all now that I have e-mail. Mail and packages are delivered on Fridays, so maybe something will come in 3 days.

Steve's visit was more of a visit than an evaluation. Or he did a good job making it seem so. The day he came to my school (the day before Thanksgiving), there was a puja (religious festival) going on. I spent the day trying to explain Thanksgiving to my students (they think everyone in America is white, so they couldn't grasp that there were no white people there more than 500 years ago) and playing a game. Steve thought it was great.

School is going fine. I have a better concept of what teaching is all about now -- and I'm pretty sure I won't want to do it when I get back home. Not at the primary level, anyway. Kraig is looking into getting his masters degree in teaching English as a second language (TESL) when his service is over in 3 months -- possibly even studying at the University of Bangkok!

Let me say once again how strange it is that none of my friends in Nepal know any of my friends from home - and vice versa. It seems completely normal for me to tell you what Kraig is doing -- I know him as well or better than anybody I've seen in over 5 months, talk to him everyday, and have been living with him for two months! But then I remember that you've never met him or spoken with him, and that none of my friends from home who you know have ever met or spoken with him. By the same token, nobody I know here knows any of my friends from home. The dichotomy is very strange to get used to.

I got up early and watched some of the Green Bay/San Francisco football game this morning at Bill & Zack's. Hard to get into it not knowing what's going on with all the other teams. How can Washington be doing well -- I thought they had lost to Dallas twice and split with the Eagles?

Tonight is Sutyem's birthday party (basically dinner at a restaurant). Sutyem is a business consultant working at the Women's Development Center. She was raised speaking English and is pretty westernized. Unfortunately, she's planning to move to Italy in a few weeks (lucky). Her first time outside Nepal/India. Definitely not a normal Nepali, she is actually easy to talk to and hang out with. I baked another cake last night, but it didn't turn out as well as the Thanksgiving cake.

Well. Have to go!


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