Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Staff Coming Together

We had a second interview with Indreni today. Dinesh was concerned about her commitment because she has a son. As I said in a previous entry, house staff need to be at the on 24 hours a day and they can't bring their children to the hosue because it might cause a conflict or raise suspicions of favoritism. Sounds kind of harsh, but our experience and research tells us this is a good idea. So Dinesh had to reiterate this policy. Indreni said that she understood the policy and stated many times over that it wouldn't be a problem. And she will have time during work to leave and see her son.

More on Indreni... she is divorced and used to have a job in marketing with a finance company. One day the owners of the company up and left without squaring her salary and taking all her provident fund earnings (like 401k) with them. For this job, our salary was better than she expected, so that was a nice feeling.

In another adjustment, D and R also decided to make Indreni house mother instead of sister. After some reflection, they thought it would be too difficult culturally-speaking to have Indreni (31) working subordinately to Sushma (24). Plus, they also thought that Indreni had more experience and applicable skills for the work. She was impressed with the house, especially the kitchen.

When I think about it more, it's no small thing we're asking these women to do--essentially pick up a new family and care about it as your own. Of course we're hoping the benefit will be mutual after some time where the women feel some fulfillment at providing care for these children. But it's difficult to imagine walking into those circumstances. Or, more correctly, feeling this was the best option for you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not maligning the job by any means--I expect it to be rewarding and fulfilling for everyone we hire. We'll provide for them. But there is a part of Indreni and Sushma that NEEDS the job, that feels there aren't other options. Hopefully that feeling of having to have the job passes. But I don't think there are many people born who are raised to feel that house mothering in an orphanage should be their life work.

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We added some new items to the house this week, namely a Samsung TV, DVD player and a new TV case. Dinesh got his computer installed as well. The rest of the furniture will arrive any day now and that should round out the acquistions except for the toys and books. Apparently educational toys aren't available in Pokhara, so Rekha will buy some in KTM when she heads there later this week (she was supposed to go today but the flights were fogged in).

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The Rajbhandaris receive a local paper every morning. It written in Nepali script so I can't read it. Still I pick it up and leaf through if only to feel like I'm keeping up on current events. There are advertisements strung along the bottom of each page. And each day there are at least three ads asking "Bank Balance?" And the rest is in Nepali plus a phone number.

I asked Dinesh about these ads. Certainly no one is offering to give you money or surveying the number of Nepalis who currently have accounts with national banks.

To obtain a visa to the US (and other countries) you need to show the US counsulate that you have a substantial amount of money held in Nepal. The evidence of this money provides the consulate with confidence you will return to Nepal and not violate the terms of your visa. Not surprisingly, many Nepalis lack the sufficient funds to earn them a consulate's good faith.

The Bank Balance? advertisements are lenders (sharks) who will loan you that substantial sum ("long-term and short-term" the ad declares) for, I imagine, exorbitant interest rates.

The practice is of course illegal but apparently so unenforced that the perpetrators (and complicit newspapers) feel no vulnerability in offering the service in a major news source along with their phone numbers.

But this is just one of the many types of practices that are considered illegal in the West but widespread here.

Consider computer software... on almost every cybercafe computer you can find an icon in the lower right corner declaring that this machine is running counterfeit Windows software. Then they include some warning about possible malfunction unless the problem is fixed but that's probably nothing to worry about. I don't anyway. Not my machine. When I mentioned this to Dinesh, he just laughed and said, "Oh, yes. Every computer in Nepal. They can't stop it." Mind you, Dinesh isn't supporting the practice through his comments but rather acknowledging the runaway problem of privacy.

Bootlegs of films that are being premiered on the big screen in the US come out the SAME DAY on DVD in Nepal.

p.s. To my brother-in-law Tom Lundin--Philips is considered the best brand of appliances in Nepal. Authentic Philips, that is.

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Otherwise, life with the Rajbhandaris continues to be exceedingly pleasant. I wake every morning to the sounds of Ritesh and Diksha shuffling playfully about the kitchen. I have a delicious cup of chiyaa with breakfast. Two delicious meals of dal bhaat plus snacks each day. Some days we have momos from a local shop, other days peanut masala. I play Uno with Ritesh and get to hold (and toss in the air) Diksha many more times than she would like, but I can't help it. Life is good.

CB

1 comment:

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