This is the general greeting here in Nepal, but it is also a salutation and a sign of respect, playing a role somewhat like that of the amorphous and ubiquitous "aloha" in the Hawaiian language. Technical translations of the term "namaste" diverge, but the greeting is commonly translated to literally mean something along the lines of "I greet the divine within you." A little more special than the American "What's up?", right?
Now that my Spanish skills have sufficiently rusted since I last used them during my epic 2005 road trip through southern Spain (where eight years of formal Español training were best put to use ordering cervezas and sangria), I am excited to pick up another language or at least give it a serious attempt. After a handful of Nepali language lessons in the U.S. before departing, I renewed my first steps in this linguistic journey today when Claudine and I had our first Nepali lesson with our new tutor, Mandakini.
Nepali is closely related to Hindi, a language commonly spoken in India. The written form looks something like this:
It may be a while before I can dare to attempt reading that passage, but perhaps soon enough. For now, I am satisfied to know the following Nepali word:
āśā ; hope
With that, I am hopeful as I look forward to attempting another language and another exciting week in this country so different from my home.
And as always, namaste.