Thursday, June 10, 2010

Healthy Living

Kathmandu isn't a city for everyone, but it seems to fit me really well. Seeing the extent of the pollution here, the first thing that pops into your head isn't a healthy lifestyle, but that is what it has provided for me. Since moving here I have gotten into the best shape I have been in for at least ten years, I have a lot more energy, and I am getting so much more done. The downside is that all my pants need to have a couple inches taken out of the waste.

There are two large factors contributing to this, the first being a large shift in diet. I don't think I had an unhealthy diet in the States, I've always tried to consume lots of fruits and veggies, and tried to stick more to grilled and lean meats. Back home though I ate out a lot more, and I ate tons more bread, cheeses and although i have never been a heavy drinker, I consume even less alcohol here. I prepare more meals for Kim and myself together here, and since she is vegetarian I mostly only eat meat when we go out to restaurants. Cheese is either expensive or impossible to get and so its consumption is way down. We occasionally get French style goat cheese, and use that imitation grated parmigiana  stuff that comes in a shaker, but that is about it. 

Here the vegetables are so cheap that some things like chiles, onion, ginger and garlic are just about free. Tomatoes are less than dollar for a killo (2.2 pounds), I can get fresh bunches Basil or mint for $0.25 and green onions and cilantro for closer to ten cents. Cucumbers zucchini carrots and the like are cheap as well, but due to their weight you may have to drop 0.50 cents on them occasionally. Even better is the fresh fruit, Mangos are in season right now and are roughly fifty cents a pound. A good sized mango will cost you roughly $0.35. Back home it was not uncommon for me to have to pay $3.00 for a Mango. Watermelon, papaya, leche, apples, oranges, all are available and all are decently priced.

I bring all of this up to point out that it is incredibly cheap to eat really well here. With produce prices so low it's cheaper to make good tomato sauce from scratch then it is to buy it in a jar. It also means I get to experiment a bit with local ingredients and mix them with more familiar recipes. Recently I made goat cheese stuffed eggplant served with pasta and topped with a tomato sauce that also had mango in it. It really turned out well and all of it was not all that bad for us.

The biggest difference is time and temperature though. It's always sunny and warm here. Every day. Every single day. I think that's great, it might not be everyones cup of tea, but I love it. It means every day you can get out and be active. You can go hiking, biking, rafting, running, whatever. Weather really isn't an issue. It also means you can walk through the city, and sure its wise to bring an umbrella during the monsoon period, but the monsoon here is nothing compared to the average New England spring as far as rain. At least so far. 

Even more important though is time. Time to do exercises in the morning, time to go running if I want to, time to go to the gym. I've kept amazingly busy between writing, starting Harilo, this blog and any number of other things, but it's at my pace. It's dictated by the eb and flow of things around me. I'm never wanting for things to do, and some days have been almost hectic, but even the busy days are Nepali days. Time in Nepal moves slower, even if you want it to be like the US. It can't be. This is a good thing. It keeps you sane, and allows you to prioritize your life in a way that works, makes sense. I still get lots done, many days I chose to work really long hours, but even when I do I stop in for lunch with a friend, stop by have a cup of tea with someone, or just take a minute and go up to the roof to look at the mountains and hills. 

The differences is that I don't end each day exhausted and just trying to rest so that I can do it again tomorrow. I work through out the day, pace myself, often working right up to bed time and go to bed looking forward to what I can get done the next day. It's a profound shift and one that has made life a bit more enjoyable here. Nepali people always think it is funny that so many Nepalis want to go to America, and here I am an American coming to live here in Nepal. The truth is that I love my country, and it has so much to offer people, but Nepal has a rhythm to it that allows people to live a life where balance be struck between work and living. I'll be happy to stay in Nepal for a while.

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