Thursday, September 20, 2012


Sometime back, I read an article of a foreign educated young Nepali women who went to rural Nepal working for a program in an INGO. She reportedly felt like not being treated as their own, by the people in the field. This is a prime example of the "Michael"  effect. Compare a women, who would put lipstick in her cheeks to get that red look during her marriage to a sophisticated women who would not step out without a SPF leveled sunscreening cream.The difference is such that a mere closeness of 2-3 day is not enough to create homely interactions.Throughout the article she made genuine effort to indicate her willingness to serve Nepal, and her act of returning to Nepal in itself stands as a proof. However,she could have faced the situation better.
would you call this a skirt?
To those who have done schooling at Nepal, Jujuman is an interesting story included in Secondary level Nepali curriculum. The Michael that I am talking about is just the opposite of the Jujuman. The humiliation that Jujuman faced while visiting his relative in urban area, is nicely depicted in the story. Now, as more and more city based organizations are seeking to  take their programs to rural Nepal, more of educated and modern Nepalese are visiting the rural and ragged side of Nepal.These urban Nepalese are facing opposite however similar humiliating incidences as Jujuman.Back in my hometown in Sarlahi, some of my uncle used to call me "Ta tuh Michael bhayechas"; when I visited them during  occasions like Dashain. Covered with shining denim, and hair trying to point skywards, it certainly would have made me look like more of an alienated phenomenon than a village boy they searched in me. If somebody would put an earphone
(especially those bigger ones) and murmur some foreign songs coupled with fancy sun glasses; that would make him look a perfect "Michael".

Here are some points which if taken care of could save you from being a Michael.

a. Dress Up: Don't dress what's fashionable in Kathmandu or Paris. It shall look nothing but alien to the rural people. Dressing unorthodox shall attract unwanted precaution and shyness while interacting. Simple shirts and soft jeans shall serve well.

the man on the left has the perfect dress up
b. Language: Don't mix English words until absolutely necessary. Most of the words that we use for granted like washroom, cupboard etc sounds too foreign. These shall create a negative impact in your audience and create a wider gap. Try to explain technical terms in as detailed way as possible. An engineer may be habituated to call a "suspension bridge" but  saying "Jholunge Pul" creates a world of difference.If you are staying for a long time, try to make use of the local language.

c. Lifestyle: Try to adapt to the way the people are living. Try to have the same food, in the same manner. Don't try to be picky and particular. Maintain basic cleanliness but don't give an impression that the whole surrounding is allergic.Try to know more about people and try to accommodate yourself to their day-to-day life.

d. Attitude: Don't have an attitude like you are the learned and command high respect. Have an attitude of a learner and a trier. If you didn't like those folk songs played over and over again in the public buses of Kathmandu, it doesn't mean every folk songs are going to be boring. Listening to a live event in itself is a new and better experience. Try to learn or observe new things like milking, shearing of wool etc. Try to give equal space and maintain two way learning process with your rural counterparts.

I hope these tips would help you come out of the "Michael" shell and enjoy your trips to far flung remote part of Nepal.


  1. After college,I worked for a couple of years in the development sector. I had to go to rural areas and interact with the local community and do whatever I could to help disseminate relevant agricultural technology. Obviously, most of the people I visited were farmers. They were very warm and receptive; and there was not a hint of distaste for me or say unequal treatment as faced by this particular lady u mentioned earlier.
    I believe that its all about modesty. The way you present yourself and let go of all your urban egos. When in Rome do as the Romans do!

  2. Yeah! you got it right! pleased to know that! I sometime don't understand the way urban people deal
    with poor ones! after all we are one of the poorest