Same Same But Different

“Always be a little unexpected.”

“Same same but different” is a funny phrase that I hear all the time from Nepalis, and in my opinion, accurately describes the relationship between India and Nepal.

-They are both predominately Hindu countries, and many of their traditions and holidays are the same or very similar.

-They are both developing countries which comes with corruption, garbage everywhere, and un-dependable electricity.

-Cows are sacred in both of these countries, they wander around the streets here in Nepal as they did in India.

-The clothes, at least in the villages are the same “suits” for the women in both countries. This is because the Nepalis have adopted the Indian shirt, pants, and scarf set.

Needless to say there are lots of similarities. Some people say that Nepal is just an extension of India, but I disagree. Though their cultures are similar, the people look and act differently, and are proud to be Nepali.

-Nepali men don’t stare in the same cold blooded way as Indian men do. They still stare, and don’t get me wrong, their men aren’t always respectful either, but it isn’t to the same scary extent as India.

-They speak Nepali, but most of them understand Hindi as they watch Indian movies.

-There aren’t so many people! India just feels so overwhelmingly crowded, whereas here there is a lot more space. In fact, most of the northern part of the country is composed of small villages away from any sort of road access.

-People always comment that Nepalis are so friendly, and it’s true. I experienced that in Western Nepal while visiting areas no tourists ever venture through. In the touristy cities though the people are programmed to be “friendly,” but it is not usually sincere as we westerners are truly seen as money. But hey, I guess they have to make a living too, and after experiencing true friendliness in the un-touristic parts, I know that Nepalis are indeed friendly in the villages.

-Nepal has three dominate regions. The flatlands, which border India and are much more Indian both in culture and appearance. The middle ground which is not Indian, yet not Sherpas. Then the highlands, my favorite, which are composed of small farming villages hours or days away from roads. These higher regions are predominately Buddhist, and though the northern villages are very poor, their simplistic farming way of life seems a lot better than trying to live in a city.

Though there are a lot of similarities, and the differences seem minute, but being here feels different than traveling through India. I feels safer and it is definitely easier for me to find somewhere to pitch my tent. It is less chaotic and much easier than India for travelers, which in part is due to the extensive tourist infrastructure found here in Nepal.

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