August 16, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Sittad, Baitadi is the village where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : The Peace Corps in Nepal: August 16, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Sittad, Baitadi is the village where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 10:15 am: Edit Post

Sittad, Baitadi is the village where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal

Sittad, Baitadi is the village where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal

Sittad, Baitadi above is the village where I lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal (1996-1998). I taught math and English to students in grades 3-7. Some of them walked two hours to school each day. Sittad had no electricity, running water, roads or telephones, which is exactly what I wanted. I learned a lot from the isolation.


I took these pictures of my students in Nepal. They were always more eager to have their pictures taken than to study math. I loved them a lot.

On the days I did not feel like cooking I would go for a walk near meal time. In the outlying burroughs of the village the children saw me coming and raised the alarm with their parents who said, "Sir, have you eaten?" If I said no, they would invite me into their house to eat bread with the lentil dish. The children were shy to see the American Sir in their house; they peeked into the room where I ate. "Ramji, what's five times eight?" I would say, which made them doubly nervous because I was only supposed to ask that at school. Then the mother came down the steps, catching them not knowing the answer. She did not know the answer herself, but she grabbed Ram by the ear, saying, "Answer the American Sir." Then the child said forty or forty-two or nine depending on how bright a child, and I either beamed or buried my face in my hands. The students knew when I buried my face they had been wrong, but the parent did not know it and so they were let off the hook.

In the evening I went to the ridge. If Chakuri Kumari had not been in school I listened for her singing to her sister where they cut grass. The women do not like being alone, so if they fall out of sight they sing continually to each other across the hill. It is a calling and answering song of a melody older than the language which they speak. The words of the song are no longer in the language, and I could not find out their meaning from anyone. I asked the learned school teachers. "It is the woman's song," they said. "It's what they have always sung."

When they had finished cutting grass the song stopped, and I saw them come across the ridge with the enormous bundles weighing down their bodies. A single strap over the top of the head supported the entire load. The hillside was too steep for the livestock to graze, but they needed the grass for feed because the gradual slopes were all farmed. Then as they came by I would see who there was that I knew and take photographs. They did not like to be photographed while they worked because it was unbecoming to them, but they let me do as I liked with the camera. I had given them good photographs and they did not want to discourage me.

In the winter the wind came hard from the mountains. There were no shutters on the windows at school. They were just open windows. We talked about building shutters but if you blocked the windows from wind, no light either would enter the room. It would be too dark to teach. When it rained with the winter wind, the water blew into the classroom with the gusts. The students huddled in the center of the room away from the windows, trying to stay warm. The wind and rain were so loud you could not hear anyone speak. Instead of doing class work those days, we sang Nepali folk songs and danced on the dirt floor. The students danced until the water made the floor too muddy. They liked to sing loudly against the noise of the rain, overpowering the weather with their voices. Then when the floors became lakes and the students had no place to stand, the peon rang the bell for us to leave.

I walked home daily with the students who lived near Melchora. They followed me to my hut sometimes and asked me to take their pictures. The camera had become so popular as to be an annoyance. I could not take it out without every young boy in the vicinity jumping in front of the lens. When children came too frequently to my hut after school, I put them to work. I thrust buckets into their hands and made them bring water from the well.

In the summer we ate much fruit. I became an expert on the mango trees of the village. Each tree produced a slightly different fruit, some more sour or sweet or plumper. I almost gave up eating rice. Wherever I was on a path or in the village, I could find some boy and say, "Climb that tree and bring me a mango." He would shinny up the trunk and edge across the lofty branches. He would not give me a mango from the low branches but search for the heaviest fruit. He plucked it and dropped it to me. As he descended, some other mango looked bigger to him and he would carry it down. Crowds gathered to watch me eat. Other boys who were rivals disparaged the quality of the mango. "We can find bigger and sweeter than that," they said. So the contest was on, and they went climbing every tree in the village to find the ripest fruit. I was supposed to judge, but I ate the produce as it came, so in the end there were only the skins on the ground to compare.

Then in the fall we ate sugar cane. You could not eat it but tear off the bark and suck the sweet juice. Although Parmananda Punt's wife gave me lessons, I had difficulty tearing the bark with my teeth. It was something you had to learn as a child. The Punt family took great pleasure in watching me mangle the cane. They had never seen someone so inept, and compared me to various animals of low intelligence. In his house I sometimes shared a room with the children. The older girl, who was ten, watched over her little brothers. When they woke sick in the night she consoled them and lit the kerosene lamp. She paid no attention to me and did not need to wake her own mother. Then if the boys could not sleep she made them open their school books and recite each of the lessons. They had only the dim lamp or sometimes a candle for light. She was a studious, hard-working girl who had learned to go without sleep. It would serve her all of her life.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Nepal



By Rajendra Joshi ( - on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 5:38 pm: Edit Post

I am Rajendra Joshi (Nephew of Narayan), finished my schooling from a remote village Nagtadi(Baitadi)near Sittad where I met Thomas Anthony Pinch of California who served there as a teacher in a high school as a peace corps.I am very much influenced by him. Nowadays I am in U.S. as a permanent resident and I want any message from him at my e-mail address below.

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 1:39 am: Edit Post


Greetings from the beautiful Himalayan Kingdom Nepal

By sudip ( on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 10:22 am: Edit Post

hello to all whoever has served for Peace Corps.
One of the Language Trainer from Nepal. I would like to rem all my old frens


By Mahanand joshi ( on Sunday, February 14, 2010 - 11:38 pm: Edit Post

Nmste Andrew sir,
I am Mahanand Joshi From sittad-5 Dol. thanK U Very much for this pub. what u 've given to sittad is unfogettable for us. when u were the teaher, i was student of class 10 of sittad schhol. Now i'm workig as an Accountat, at Mahendranagar kanchanpur. If U write more about sittad we will be grateful towards u. May i send religious and cutural history of Sittad. sr, my sister Jayanti is ur student too.
Thanks alot4 UR kind cooperation with sittad by IT

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