When Sitting With Nepalese

Memories of life in a Himalayan village.

By Mark Sconce - Peace Corps Volunteer, Nepal (1967 - 1969)

When sitting with some Nepalese,

I wander back in time

To my old village in Nepal

Where I did once abide.

Sindhuli Madhi was its name,

A Himalayan site:

With Annapurna on the left,

And Everest on the right.

Thatched roof adorned my village hut,

While cow dung formed the floor,

And mud and wattle were its walls.

No sense to lock the door.

My lanterns fed with kerosene

Provided reading light;

And I had water from our stream

To bathe in every night.

The milk of water buffalo

To froth my tea each morn;

Good chai from tea stalls down below

And by my bearer borne.

Sir Adhikari was his name

Just eighteen years of age,

A Hindu Brahmin, he became

My guide and cook and sage.

He cooked me rice and lentil soup,

Spiced vegetables a treat;

The fish he found in our bazaar

Were barely fit to eat.

Our hardships, though, were small indeed

Compared to village ways;

The men were yoked to ox and plow

The same as ancient days.

When looking out our window gap,

One cloudy afternoon,

We saw a body borne aloft

Before the great monsoon.

The mourning family bore the corpse

And placed it on a pyre,

Beside the rushing river shore,

And set their son on fire.

We watched the smoke ascend like shrouds

We watched the Hindu priest,

We watched the billows reach the clouds

And with them the deceased.

These memories oft return to me,

Both pleasant and profound,

When I sit down with Nepalese

On this my native ground.


This poem was entered in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.

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