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Nepal Story of a woman 1 Nov 1996

THE EARTH TIMES

NOVEMBER 1-15, 1996

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Three days easy walk, four days tough’

By Ashali Varma

Pokhra, Nepal—Nestled in the valley of Pokhara, amid lush green paddy fields, in the shadows of the magnificent Fishtail Mountain, is a beautiful resort, Hotel Shangri-la.  It combines the best of the East and the West, and its unique character comes from the attention paid to the ethnic decor, the pottery, the paintings and the many small details that make it an integral part of its paintings and the many small details that make it an integral part of its surroundings.

Manu Thapa works as housemaid in the Shangri-la and says that she loves the work and the pay.  “My home is a seven-day walk away from here.  Three days easy and four days very tough.”  Manu comes from a remote mountain village called Bhojpur, east of Kathmandu. “We have to climb very high and carry water with us, as there is no food or drinking water on the way.”

She came to Pokhara three years ago and worked at various small tourist hotels.  The pay was bad but Manu learned English by speaking to tourists.  She seldom gets to go back to see her parents.  At 21, she is not married but says that she has to save for her marriage.  Having grown up in a family with three brothers and four sisters, Manu spoke about the difficulties her family went through.  Farming was tough at those altitudes but for generations the family had been on the land.

“During the bad weather we had very little food.  We grew rice and corn.  But there was never enough,” she said.  She studied till the 10th grade and decided to leave the farm for a job where she could earn money, said Manu.  For hundreds of boys and girls like Manu, tourism and hotels like the Shangri-la offer an escape from poverty and a difficult existence.