Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Things That Are Different

There are a number of things that we are doing nowadays that we don't normally do— things that we'd never be allowed to do at home.

It's an interesting juxtaposition— you take off for a year and suddenly you're doing all sorts of things you'd never be allowed to do because your parents look at you incredulously whenever you suggest it, then say a definite 'no,' or you would find it very important in the first place and now don't.

Number One: Nutella.

Nutella, when I was five years old, was the best chocolate around. (It still is). It was also a very rare treat, because Nutella used hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils— something our mother restricted. A lot.

As we got older, Nutella was turned into a 'birthday present' item. It was sufficiently rare enough to be able to ask Mom— "listen, since Ioan's birthday is coming up… can we have Nutella?"

And the answer would be "yes, I guess." But… and this is something I'm thinking of just now… we never actually thought to ask for it, so perhaps if we'd asked they would have said 'yes.' But that's not the point.

The point is… we are in Kathmandu, and we are eating a sandwich meal— the kind of dinner we always have at home— some bread, cheese, meat product (includes fish), and a knife. And then we make our sandwiches and don't have to worry about ordering the ravioli or the penne, the chicken tandoori or the grilled cheese sandwich. And it's heaven.

But… as we're eating (and it's seven pm— close enough to our 9:00 bedtime), Dad suggests leaving a piece of bread for Nutella.

Now, when we went shopping in Kathmandu, I found a jar of Nutella and held it up. "Yes?" I said,
Mom looked at it dubiously. "How much does it cost?" (Cost is important.)
I rattled off the number,
"You don't have anything to eat it with." Mom said (past forays into the world of nutella eating meant spreading it on bread or some other foodstuff and then eating.)
"We'll use our fingers." I say. I judged the situation, and then grinned. "Super." I said.
"What?" Ioan asks.
"We're getting Nutella." I said. The last time we had Nutella was… camp. In August. And that was a jar that a girl brought in… the girls in the cabin passed it around taking fingerfuls. Before that I think it was Ioan's eleventh birthday. But I'm not sure.

That was the first jar of Nutella this week. We're on the third. We eat it with spoons, taking one or two at a time (which means five to ten spoonfuls… which does not explain how one moment it's started and then it's finished— I certainly don't seek out the Nutella jar midday. And yet it seems everyone else is).

Reread that a moment. Spoonfuls of nutella. Plain nutella. Nothing else even close to it. AND… at 7 pm. A time when normally even orange juice would be frowned upon… and our parents are eating it with us, which is nearly as unheard of as eating nutella at 7 pm.

(It's 8 pm the next day… we're eating nutella.)

Number Two: Forget about the TV.

It's true.

When we first arrived at this hotel, we went and dumped our things wherever it is you normally dump things in a hotel room, plugged in our laptops, and started chugging away at whatever it is we normally chug away at.

When we left the hotel for Chitwan, after four days of living in the 'apartment', Dad peeked into the room I share with Ileana, and said, "Oh! You two have a TV too!"
"Really?" I peeked into the room myself and was surprised to find it was true, "Cool!" says I, picking up my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder.

Now, there are two options, one of which I like more than the other (I think you can guess which:)
1) That we have become so obsessed with laptops and iPod Touches that we don't notice TVs any more.
2) That we watch TV so rarely now that we don't notice TVs any more.

A third option, now I think of it is,
3) We're too lazy to channel surf for something 'cool' that we just ignore it.

I'm thinking that the third option is the most realistic, to be honest.

Number Three: Eating at an Italian Restaurant 4/5 times.

We live above a charming restaurant with nice Nepali people that smile very brightly whenever we come in.

It's called Alchemy, and it serves Italian food. REALLY GOOD Italian food.

Part of the reason we eat at Alchemy so often is because Nepali, Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan food has a high chance of being spicy/ distasteful to our palates.

(At home our diet is something like this: Salad, chicken cooked in the oven (perhaps pork, if we're lucky), rice, spaghetti… you know? Bland foods?  Things easy to cook within 30 minutes, usually 20?)

ALSO… because it's Italian… we know practically what everything on the menu is and whether we'll like it or not. Has mushrooms? Iffy. Anchovies? Definite no. Bacon? Maybe… Spaghetti with tomato sauce? Yes.

If it's Nepali… we have to figure out if we're going to like black bean and lentil curry or if it's going to make us cry from spiciness (it's good, by the way). In China, we have to look at the pictures very carefully to try and figure out if it's going to be so spicy we can't eat it.

In Japan… we have to learn to avoid anything that looks REMOTELY fishy.

In Tibet… well, Tibetans are not known for their cooking skills. We did find some nice restaurants, but I suspect it was because there were Nepali cooks making everything in the kitchen, not Tibetan ones. I think I remember Tsewang saying something about the differences between Nepali and Tibetan cooks, but I'm tired and I can't remember.

Another reason we eat at Alchemy is… yogurt.

Alchemy has REALLY GOOD organic yogurt— it's unsweetened, and is literally just plain white yogurt that you can find at WalMart… only ten bazilion times better. It's slightly sweet and slightly sour at the same time, and there's never quite enough yogurt to go around, to be honest. Also… it's good for your stomach! What could be better?

Number Four: Schoolwork for just two hours a day.

Yeah… It's a fantastic upside. Of course… the downside is that we didn't have summer vacation for 3 years beforehand, and that we've been working like dogs since we started planning the trip… but… really? It's two hours of school a day. It's ridiculous. It's amazing. It's heaven.

We'll get up in the morning, hang out till about eight or nine, then go upstairs and eat… and at about nine or ten we'll startt schoolwork, go for two hours or four (I usually go for four. I'm not sure why.), sightsee, and then come back home and hang out some more.

It's wonderful to be able to just go to Khan Academy and do a couple of problems, then switch to GIMP and draw a couple of lines before heading back to math.

I'm stuck on Rates problems, though. I got ALMOST to the end of the bar… and then I typoed a three instead of a four while calculating… and lost HALF the bar.

It's annoying. But… well, at least I'll know rate problems inside out from now on! I doubt I'm ever going to have a problem with the formulas of them again. Khan Academy is nice that way.

Number Five: No muse and no motivation.

This is kind of a bonus, since it's not exactly something that would never happen at home… but Muse is off somewhere… I'm not sure where. It seems she's decided to abandon me.

This is bad… since I've got at least four projects (not in order of importance— they're ALL important!) I need to work on in order to make my 4.5 words a day quota. (I haven't hit the quota in a while now… and I'm starting to get worried about my ability to catch up by the end of the year.)

The Blood Feud needs about ten thousand more words in order to be finished. After it's finished I'm going to finish uploading it to WeBook and then I am going to look away from it for the next six months. Then I'll see if it's worth tackling. These last ten thousand words mean that I have to wrap up all the loose ends— which means going back through the narrative and checking off which lines I've finished and which I haven't. It means work. I'm reeaaallly not in the mood for work right now.

NaNo Swap… the part where I plan a novel for someone else before December 19th, isn't working out so well. Muse is gone, you see, and that means that any interest I had for any project is practically… nil. And yet I have to make character sheets and I have to figure out what the main character's house looks like… all in ten days. I'm seriously wondering what I was thinking when I agreed to a NaNo Swap.

The Blog. I think I'm about… one blog post behind on Noi6, and I need to upload dares to another blog, and I need to figure out what the next blog post is about. It's hard, see? You can only read so much about the elephant ride we had in Chitwan… or about the terracotta warriors we saw in China. Eventually you start to wonder if the Dascalus can think of anything besides the same old things they've seen. Also… we went, we did, we took pictures. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SAY?, is kind of my outlook on our adventures. So I'm constantly searching for something to give a little personality to my experiences.

Riddle Rose. In November I came up, much to my chagrine at the time, with an idea for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, including riddles and a shapeshifting beast (which becomes everyone's worst nightmare, somewhat like JK Rowling's boggart… but different). This was bad because it distracted… heavily… from The Blood Feud. But now I'm sick of that and slogging on everything anyway, so I started Riddle Rose, which I posted on WeBook (, and which I asked a couple of friends to take a look at. So far people like the premise, the writing, and the title. Except for the title, I don't quite understand any of the praise.

So… while all these projects are worthwhile and I reaaallly liked them when I started them… with Muse gone, they all seem somewhat colorless, except for Riddle Rose, which enough people have squeed about to make me excited about writing it. I mean… if you get adoration… might as well do the thing, right? (Not to mention that Ioan is hanging about me as I use the computer… asking me when I'm going to add Chapter 3.)

But, luckily, slogging has proved helpful during NaNoWriMo (I was slogging practically all the way through The Blood Feud— which proves I must have some version of self-control), and so I'll keep slogging through everything else until Muse comes back.

In other news, I need to read 13 books in the rest of December, including 85% of Middlemarch, by George Eliot, and 50% of Steve Jobs, in order to hit my book goal for the year and get a shiny badge on my GoodReads account. (I like badges). Other books on the list include Northanger Abbey, Adam's Tongue, Sense and Sensisbility, and some of Andrew Lang's fairy books. I don't know what I'm thinking reading Jane Austen at a time when I need quantity… but I've never read Northanger Abbey and the last time I read S&S I was twelve… so I'm going to read it and possibly even tackle Lady Susan.

And in 2012 I'll go back to Persuasion and reread it for fun. I like Persuasion… it's more… mature.

And because I could go on and on and on about the lovely books I've been reading and the lovely books I'm going to read… I'll stop here and just add that I love ABBA and their songs.

Perhaps the books will be a separate blog post, right?

Total words for MilHalfy Challenge: 283,157/1,600,000 (17.70%)


  1. Dear Maria I think that you could not see your Muse because after all these Asian things she is called Msue or may be Usem or again may be Esum when you will be on some other lands . May be Mesu or go ahead and find some other permutations. She is there or he is next to you but you have to wear the glasses that would let you see the nanos or the micros or the miles long and wide and high.
    So there my young curious friend. As always lovingly amused and intrigued. As I am not big on elephants but I enjoy the mountains I have taken up a friend of mine from India who recommended to "see" Ladakh in Kashmir state the very North area of India, that has the Karakoram mountains. Just splendid and then I hiked the Carpathian Mountains (the ones in Romania). I came across some great pics. As for reading I came across a book written by an eccentric traveler from Great Britain. A whole trip , mostly on horses, along the great wall (YES the same one that you walked on, climbed, etc) but going way back West where there is barely any remnants of the wall , just mounds of loess and than barely anything -a trip done way before you guys were here on this Earth , meaning in the 1980's. A very moving account of some of the things Chinese. On the other hand (the third by now) and than you could claim for your reading all the books that I read (would it count? Haa??!! What do you think.!? I do not collect any badges and I shall gladly give you all my readings. See you soon ERichards Roc NY USA

  2. It might be, but I doubt it. I think Muse is just sleeping... and needs to be poked awake. Now to find the right stick.

    What is the book called? It sounds interesting.

    And that would be cheating... and I wouldn't feel right doing it. But thank you for the offer!

  3. The Book is titled A Ride along the Gtreat Wall by Robin Hanbury-Tenison the book covers a trek of 1000 miles through regions of China still closed to foreigners.The trek was done over 3+ months in mid 1980's.
    It has between the lines intense observations and the PICS are telling. It was published in 1987. Meaning last century.

    It was was a figure of speech. I would not encourage cheating soooo ... Salut. ERichards RocNYUSA

  4. Thank you! It's on my reading list.

    And last century is nothing compared to the 18th century, which is a pain to decipher. 20th century is ridiculously easy compared to that.

    Oh, I know. ^_^

  5. Dear Maria,

    I like your post so far.I'm starting to read pheragraph number five.I think it's cool you get to go around the world.Me and my father have alwaes wanted to go around the world.I hope you get to climb at least twenty-five feet or more of Mt.Everast.I also think it's cool you went to Japan,I was studying Japan while you were in Japan and I'm still studying Japan. I hope you like my comment,Anna Jucan(from church).

  6. Dear Anna,

    I'm glad you like it!

    We already got to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest-- at 5200 meters height, which is about as far as you can go without a mountaineering permit.

    Do you like studying Japan? What's your favorite part about it?



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