Over the past couple days I have been working with a great Nepali tutor. There was no time wasted on choosing a Nepali name or even discussing a syllabus, and the few English words she used in the session were to explain that she believes in teaching only in Nepali. I immediately had flashbacks to my Chinese drill instructors in college.
"Claudine-ji," she began, staring down at me in my little wooden desk, straight from 1955, and then proceeded to tick through flash cards at a quick pace. Within a few minutes she had taught me some beginner question and answer statements ("What is your name?" and "Where are you from?") using the surprisingly effective method of flash cards with famous faces, including Obama, David Beckham, and Michael Jackson.
The next day she brought more props. To teach me the words for salt, chili, sugar, and lemon, she brought in the real things, carefully folded in brown paper. In order to teach me the words for salty, hot, sweet, and sour, she had me taste each item but did give me permission to skip the chili (she is a taskmaster with a very sweet soft side, unlike some of my Chinese laoshi).
Language lessons with Durpata were a great way to fill my time while staying around Boudha in Kathmandu. Today, though, I am moving to Patan, the city just south of Kathmandu proper. They are only a few miles apart, but with bad traffic, the commute to see Durpata on a regular basis would be tough. With hope, I will find another tutor in Patan who also likes Obama, Beckham, and MJ.
Wish me luck this week as I settle into my new home, learn my way around the neighborhood, and start work as a Kiva Fellow!