Feature / 16 Oct 2017
In Nepal, what migration means on the home front
As migrant workers leave their villages behind, landscapes and social hierarchies are being shaken from tradition
A six-hour drive from Pokhara as the nearest city, the village of Nalma sits perched atop verdant hills of terraced rice fields in central Nepal. The Himalayan mountains of the Annapurna region rise in the distance, their snow-capped peaks a stunning backdrop. The unpaved roads are dirt paths inlaid with iridescent rocks that glitter when touched by the sun’s hot rays.
Time goes slowly in Nalma, where roosters serve as alarm clocks when the first light pierces the sky, signaling that it’s time for a cup of piping hot masala chai tea topped with yak milk and a piece of haluah, rice flour that’s been lightly fried. This is fuel for days filled with a repeating series of household tasks like sweeping, cooking, feeding the chickens, and taking the mountain goats out to graze. Electricity is spotty, and kids make their own fun by chasing each other in squeal-filled games, sending the chickens flying into panic.
Life here may seem simple and idyllic, sheltered from the woes of the world beyond. But the reality is quite the contrary. In fact, this is a global village, inextricably tied to foreign economies and cultures, and grappling with the inevitable changes that such exposure brings.