The Nepali way of doing things

Since coming back to Australia after my wonderful trip to Nepal, I’ve noticed I’m doing a few things the NEPALI way.

I have not consciously made these changes, they’ve just happened!!!!

They are not big things but still it’s interesting how easy it is to pick up another culture’s little idiosyncrasies when you spend a lot of time with Nepali people.

It’s common in most relationships for a husband/wife to pick up certain ways of doing things that they’ve never done before and unconsciously inherit it from their partner’s behaviour.

But these things I’m doing  are really cultural behaviours that most Nepalis do, not just Rabindra’s way of doing things.

Here’s a quick list of my new Nepali habits:

  • Making tea/coffee the Nepali way on the stove with milk/water. (Not by boiling a kettle then adding milk – the way I have made tea my whole life).
  • Wearing chappals around the house –oh my gosh!
  • Washing up dishes the Nepali way which means not letting plates drip-dry with dishwashing detergent on them!
  • Changed the way I speak to people older than me- give them more respect (this is an especially nice one).
  • Occasionally eating dinner with my hands!! Yes, oh my gosh again!!
  • Turning upside-down shoes over in the right position facing upwards. I don’t like the thought that it could bring bad luck.
  • Not touching things with my feet.
  • AND THE BIG ONE- nodding/swinging my head to the side to indicate yes/OK!! What is with that?? I did this at work the other day and I thought to myself- Casey- you are not Nepali!!

Are you in a cross-cultural relationship where you have picked up parts of your other half’s culture? What type of new behaviours have you picked up?

If you’re not in a cross-cultural relationship, what little things have you picked up from your partner’s behaviour that you now do yourself? (For me, one of these things is tapping my feet in bed, Rabindra does it all the time and now I do it).

I’d be interested to know how little things in your daily life have been influenced by your partner!

Please share your experiences here.

This entry was posted in Cross-cultural, Culture, Differences, Intercultural, Intercultural Relationship, Nepal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Nepali way of doing things

  1. I must say even after living in India for 3 years I can’t get my head around these!!! I been trying to perfect the ‘head wobble’ ever since I came here but no luck 😀

  2. americanepali says:

    My sisters say the way I speak has changed. They claim I sound “more British.” This probably comes from working with many different international people in my daily job, I find I enunciate words more than the average American and this helps me be better understood. The British thing probably comes from my habit of pronouncing “T”s more. Americans tend to soften “T”s in the middle of a word to sound more like a “D” so “water” sounds more like “wader” and “badminton” sounds more like “badmindon.” To an American ear a very enunciated “wat-ter” sounds like a Brit.

    But a few international friends say that I’ve taken my pronunciation one step farther and have pick up a few Nepali speech mannerisms such as ending my sentences by making my voice go up. Like I speak in questions. There are other things, like that, but I can’t really think of them right now.

    And I walk around my house in Nepali wedding slippers! 🙂

    • Kassie says:

      Me too!!! People sometimes question if I’m from America because I do that heightening the end of my sentence head swaying and I phrase sentences differently at times. All habits picked up from my husband and Nepalese friends. I try to remember to speak more American, but I often forget. Soooo glad I am not the only one!

  3. tashsn says:

    I have totally picked up so many things like saying “la” for everything which basically means “ok”. We don’t use “ok” in english that much but in Nepali.. they keep saying “la la” after everything and now I find myself automatically using words such as “la” and “chya” pretty often to show disproval. of something, like “chya” for “damn”. Other things, other than colloquial nepali, certain habits like putting a tikka after prayers, normally we Buddhist people pray like the hindus, but we don’t wear a tikka, but I’ve kinda got that from them. Even the way I cook food has changed. I try to pickle everything and use minimal spices or coconut milk in the dishes where as to my native dishes do contain ample amount of these things. Its amazing how these idiosyncrasies are actually adapted absent-mindedly. I can totally relate to you, and Im not even married! hehe

    • I just added you to my blogroll. does your boyfriend identiy himself as indian or nepalese? i know he was born in india but he speaks nepali and identifies as more nepali doesn’t he? and you are sri lankan is that right?

      • tashsn says:

        Thank you for adding me to your blogroll. You are already on mine, I think 🙂 Well, I don’t quite know. He speaks Nepali and almost automatically fall under the “nepali” tagline. You see, even Sikkimese in India, call Indians as Indians.. even though they are Indian too. Sometimes he prides himself on being Indian and at other times he is a proud nepali from India. Basically when I ask him, he says Im “Sikkimese” (they used to be a separate country before).
        I am Sri Lankan yes, and I am as confused sometimes about my identity too. Born and raised in Dubai, matured in UK and I’m more Nepali than I thought I could be. So I guess we balance each other out hehe. 🙂

  4. nepali jiwan says:

    I totally know where you’re coming from! I’ve definitely changed some of my habits consciously since spending time in Nepal, but there are other things that have just become natural and that I do automatically without thinking, like pointing with my middle finger (which is pretty bad in the US; i’m really trying to break this habit). I also feel bad if I hand people things with my left hand. I always have to switch the object to my right before turning it over to someone else even if it takes more time to do this. I’ve gotten some awkward looks from people when I do this.

  5. basundhara says:

    First I m gone to be more relaxed. For exemple in dealing with normal things of live.
    I m gone to be easyer. Not promptly I buy things from witch I think I need that. I m thinking about that and most I dont buy. for what we need 10 trowsers? Some peoples in the world have just one.

    I m more economic in dealing with trinking water.
    I m happy to have allways electricity and a hot shower. Now I m more consider this things.

    sometimes I eat with my hands, but just if I m toghether with my friend.
    I have got more respect for my life, actually a happy life in pease and normal prosperity….

  6. verycutest says:

    The head bobble I totally catch myself doing it. I wonder if my husband has noticed ever? Also I am always telling my toddler to do this or that ‘nicely’. Sit nicely, nicely eat etc… The bot touching things with my feet isn’t something I will ever be able to grasp, I’m always walking around barefoot and I usually use my toes to retrieve dropped items without having to bend down to do so.

  7. Hi and Namaste… I am a new fan in the US. Yes! I do relate to this, very much. I have been married to my Nepali husband for almost 7 years now, and am also stepmonster to our 16 year old Nepali son. I think I have a pretty adept head-wobble going on… too bad it is wasted around here… I have also noticed the following:

    -fearlessness with regards to cooking and eating spicy food
    -ending sentences occasionally with “isn’t it?” instead of “right?” (as in “hoina?”)
    -asking “hunchha?” instead of “ok?” at home
    -feel a twinge of guilt when touching food with the left hand
    -occasionally pointing with my lips
    -growing different stuff in the garden, esp lots of daikon radishes (mula), mustard, etc…
    -pet names now tend to be Nepali names
    -more shoulder action when dancing, but maybe that comes from too many Bollywood DVD’s
    -buying basmati rice in 25 lb bags

    I’ll think of more after I post. Oh yeah, we all love to make assam tea with milk, and we eat with our hands frequently.

    I am really enjoying your blog! I just started one, but have no idea what I am doing… lol


    • you are so funny! would love to read more on your blog about your life. do you speak much nepali? did you raise your children to speak mainly english , nepali or both? Did you adopt your son or is he your husband’s son from a previous marriage? oh and yes i also buy the big bags of basmati rice!!!!!!

  8. Sam says:

    Hi Casey,
    I love your blogs, they are so great, I love reading about your cross-cultural experiences. My parents were migrants from Nepal and have been living here for the past 23/24 years. I wasn’t born in Australia (neither Nepal) but my parents brought me here when I was 6 months old – so basically I was raised here went through the education system etc. I can say that growing up in the a Nepalese household rinsing the soapy water off your dishes is something that was and still is a must and I have definitely instilled that in my Aussie partner as well! Although now it’s not so bad because we have a dishwasher! Turning upside down shoes right is something I do, because I saw actual bad luck resulting from this – we were locked out without keys and when we got in – ONE OF THE SHOES WAS UPSIDE DOWN lol! Um, I’ve picked up a great deal of my partner’s Aussie slang and over explaining everything, because he is more like a blokey bloke 🙂

    I have to say you definitely sound more Nepali than I am which is a good thing! Just thought I’d share a really different perspective from someone who is Nepalese-Australian but grew up here.

    When I went back to Nepal in 2008, it was funny – I wasn’t allowed in any of the Hindu temples or some places in Buddha Park because I didn’t look Nepali (hmm). I was asked if I was Japanese at one stage and I can recall one kid saying in Nepali I had a big arse when I was walking around Buddha park…. He thought I didn’t understand and so did many other Nepalis but I understood EVERYTHING! Not sure if this is good or bad though?

    Cheers and keep on writing


    • Hey Sam I also didn’t get let into Hindu temples. I’m ok with the theory of not allowing in non believers but the guards there let in all Nepalis and Indians and if u look different u don’t get in. What about all the Nepalis and Indians who are Buddhists or Muslims. Such a rort.

      Omg pointing with the lips!! Ur tr first person who’s told me it could be a cultural thing!! Rabindra does it and I never really noticed it until u mentioned it that’s awesome

      • Sam says:

        I don’t think I mentioned pointing with the lips…? Yeah the Hindu temples, I mean you look at the state of the country and those sorts of small things (customs) don’t really surprise me unfortunately. I don’t think you can generalise (I’m 100% sure you weren’t doing this but for others out there…) on the fact that ALL Nepalis act a certain way, because it’s like with anyone, how you behave and act is dependent on your values and upbringing and more strongly as I have discovered in recent years, your parent’s upbringing. But definitely more customs/practices have resonated strongly with me because I’ve just grown up with it and like you say some habits/customs are actually nice – like the respect for older people. But obviously there is something in Rabrindra that attracted you to him and perhaps it was maybe some of his cultural upbringing?


      • oops the reply to the pointing with the lips was meant to be for someone else

      • Kassie says:

        Hold on!!! They don’t let you in the Hindu Temples if you don’t look the part???? That’s one of the things I was really looking forward to! My heart is broken.

      • It’s not about ‘looking the part’. I don’t think they let in any white people unless you are willing to have a big argument!!

  9. Abby says:

    My husband is from Taiwan and I think I’m turning Taiwanese because…
    • I eat practically any animal and having strong opinions/reviews on Chinese food.
    • I get cravings for specific types of Chinese cuisine – Taiwanese, Cantonese, etc.
    • I wear slippers around the house and never wearing my shoes in our home (or anyone else’s)
    • I like to share funny or insightful idioms from Chinese
    • Of my newfound love of luxury bags. Just 10 years ago I’d never heard of Louis Vuitton!
    • If I come across a word I don’t know how to pronounce, I take the Japanese way of pronouncing it. I have no idea why.
    • I probably sound like an idiot but when speaking in English, I can’t make myself say Japanese or Chinese words in the typical Aussie manner – like karaoke as “carry-oh-key” *shudder*
    There are probably many more I’m not even aware of! I am somewhat of an ‘egg’ – white on the outside, yellow on the inside. My other half is a ‘banana’.

  10. Padmini says:

    Like AmericanNepali, I speak differently. I speak much slower and with an accent that my family says makes me sound like English isn’t my first language. My grammatical structures is all messed up. I believe this has far more to do with working with a lot of international families and not Shiva, because he speaks English better than I ever did.
    I also make tea on the stove with milk and have been perfecting this for well over a year now. I turn my shoes up right, but I just got used to seeing them this way and it looked neater, I wasn’t aware of the luck thing. I never let dishes drip dry with detergent (is that an Aussie thing?).
    One thing is that I almost never eat pasta any more. I always loved rice more but usually lived in a situation where pasta with sauce was the easiest meal and my family/roommates all preferred pasta over rice. And now I eat rice almost every single day. I sleep on a mat on the floor, I sit on a blanket with some pillows around, and I eat on the floor at a coffee table. Also, eating with my hands, frequent occurrence at home.
    Great post, I love hearing about these things.

  11. :) says:

    hiya, im with a nepalese man and i have noticed that ive picked up his kind of accent also i have started to to nod my head insted of saying yes or no, its ok when i do it with nepelese people but when i do it to english people i think they think im rude hahaha xxx

  12. lunkiri says:

    Hi, its really great to read ur posts.. I love this one especially. I’d say, the Nepalese way of doing certain things are exceptionally unique. And, I love they way u have expressed these stuff in a very sweet way I mean without sounding offensive. I love head wobbling ..really! and I was actually doing that while I was reading thru those lines. 😛
    While I was in UK, taking driving lessons with a Brit Instructor, after hearing my mobile conversation with one of Nepalese friend patiently, he asked wy u say..”” after every sentence. This made me laugh all the way thru the lesson.
    lol xx

  13. david sharma says:

    Haha its our traditional habits to wear “chappal” in the house even the those nepal people who are in Others country they wear “chappal” when they are in house

  14. Renee says:

    Haha, the only one I didn’t relate to was the turning shoes over thing. The other one I would add is never eating with my left hand.

    I still cannot get used to putting bones from meat onto the table instead of onto my plate. It feels so nasty.

  15. MrsNeupane says:

    Loved your post! I am married to a Nepali man and have picked up lots of things that you describe too! But then he has also picked up many UK/European ways of doing things so we always seem to have a happy medium!

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