A couple of years ago I was laid in bed after a heavy weekend watching a travel documentary and thinking I’d never get it together to actually go see the world first hand. Destined would I be to forever watch the world through the screen of my laptop. The programme featured some paddy fields in China and I was mesmerized by the engineering behind it and the way the family worked to plant and harvest the rice. They were not only incredibly well designed but natural and beautiful, carved into the landscape.
3 years on and I am finally traveling (hooray) and have stumbled into the beautiful country of Nepal. Staying in the wonderful hilly area of Dhading, just outside of Kathmandu I am surrounded by paddy fields!
The people in this area are the friendliest I’ve met outside of Yorkshire, always smiling, saying ‘hello, how are you?’, ‘what is your name?’ And ‘namaste’. Imagine my absolute joy when the neighbors of the family we are staying with asked us to help plant the paddy fields with them.
We rolled up our shorts and waited for the cattle to plow the rest of the finally soggy, boggy paddy. Myself, 4 other foreigners and around 15 locals all climbed in (some more gracefully than others I should add) and began to push the little shoots of rice in, a hand width apart. With dead worms and alternately warm and cold mud squelching between my toes I realized I was living my dream. I looked around and was met with the continuous smiles and laughs of the disbelieving locals and felt probably happier than anyone on earth at that precise moment. There was so much laughter happening in that field!
After a quick clean up at the tap, we were given a simple but incredibly tasty (and spicy) meal of beaten rice, peas and potatoes and some curd. We all sat and looked over our handy work and I was overcome by the power of human kindness… and the paddy field. The bonding power of humans, even without a common language is always amazing. But the Nepali people are some of the friendliest, smiley people I have ever known and I will remember that day, everyone laughing and working together for the rest of my life.
Story by @sophiejopeel