All of us love receiving gifts. From an expensive pen to a bag of fruits, from a shopping voucher at the local supermarket to a book, there is absolutely no limit to the range of gifts we give and receive. From the “rice feeding ceremony” as an infant to a death in the family, Nepali society has numerous occasions and as numerous norms as to what gift we need to select and give. These are irrespective of the purchasing power and across all communities. It does not have to be a celebration or a happy occasion at all to give gifts. There are perishables and non perishables gifts. It is only about what is appropriate and how we give it. The basic rule is “never go empty handed”. With the changing times and tastes the variety of gift shops that design, put together and sell them have also diversified. This issue of ECS will hopefully help you to understand the world of gifts.
At most airports there is prayer room. At hospitals there is a shrine for worship. It is quite obvious that people still believe that there are “unknown” higher forces that are in the control of the final result or the success or failure of a flight or particular treatment. The people of Kathmandu are no different when it comes to dental care. We have full confidence in our dentists; but we like to make a stop at the shrine in the heart of old Kathmandu, dedicated to the “higher power” that will help us avoid a tooth ache. Read more about the site in this issue. At ECS, we are all obsessed with the variety of foods we prepare for different occasions. While we often like to focus on the main meals and big feasts, we are taking some time out to pay due attention to some popular local snacks. Many people believe that if we understand food, we can also understand their history and roots.
Nepal’s past and present is certainly reflected in the food we serve and eat here and now and throughout the year. In this issue of ECS we also turn our attention towards some spices and tea. No meal or snacks at any time of the day or year is possible without spices and tea in Nepal. Tea is a staple drink and a ritual everywhere. Often when people ask me how I was able to achieve a very difficult negotiation, I am of the habit of replying, “It took endless cups of tea”. Nepali tea is also doing well in the global market and the future looks bright. Many ECS readers have a weakness for good paper. Many will spend time and money whenever they come across good paper and our hand-made paper is a real treat for those who love to write, draw, design, wrap, package, and of course, give gifts. In this issue of ECS we shall look at our traditional Lokta paper and the more recent paper recycling activities and enterprises. We have a lot in store for you. Whatever you are doing this month, please make some time for the Nepali way.