Nepalese have built an intimate community in the UAE

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Nepalese have built an intimate community in the UAE
A Nepalese expat will never fail to greet with you with a lovely, friendly smile.

Figures suggest that approximately 3,00,000 Nepalese expats reside in various parts of the Emirates.

By Anita Iyer

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Published: Fri 24 Feb 2017, 6:29 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Feb 2017, 8:55 PM

Not impossible, but it is rare to find a Nepalese travelling alone in a Metro or shopping at a mall. Nepalese are community-oriented and can usually be seen travelling in packs. So, the next time you meet them, go ahead and greet them with, Sanchai Hunhuncha (hope everything is good). They would be more than happy to respond with a friendly smile, one that they are known for.
UAE's physical proximity to Nepal (at just 2,870 km) with a flight duration not exceeding four hours makes it a preferred destination for those in search of better prospects. Figures suggest that approximately 3,00,000 Nepalese expats reside in various parts of the Emirates. We spoke to an employee at one of the UAE-based airlines, who moved here after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Recollecting the horrifying days, she says, "It was the worst calamity I had seen in my lifetime. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to move to Abu Dhabi and eventually got a job as a cabin crew." Life has taken a 360 turn for her, as she has been able to rebuild her home back in Kathmandu. There are many such stories of the hard working members of the Nepalese community, who save every penny possible to send it back home. Arjun Tamang, sales supervisor, cannot believe it has been ten years since he first took a Gulf Air  flight from Kathmandu to Abu Dhabi. "I came in December 2007 and it has already been a decade. This is the beauty of Dubai, time flies here." Brought up in Nepal, he decided to move abroad due to lack of career opportunities there. "Along with a career growth, Dubai offered me security and safety."
Two expats (we spoke to) related funny incidents of being mistaken for Mexicans or Filipinos. "It's fun when our facial features confuse them and they start speaking to us in a foreign language! It happens so often on international flights," shared an airline professional.
Nepalese love gorging on momos and there are a number of restaurants where they can enjoy these dumplings at a reasonable price. Offer them a simple meal of dal-bhat-tarkari (dal-rice-vegetable) and they are happy. Places like Yak & Yeti (Al Quoz), Nepaliko Sagarmatha Restaurant (Meena Bazaar), and Yalla Momos (Al Karama) offer a variety of Nepalese delicacies like thukpa, chowmein, etc. Bishnu Tamang loves to talk about Nepalese food and he adds sadeko and gundruk to our list. He has been in the UAE since 2007 and considers it as a safe haven for his family. "UAE is a place where a person's skills and work experience is recognised - one can reach the desired level in career here. My lifestyle is changing and getting better each day."
Coming from a close-knit society back home, where almost every member of the community knows the other, they love the multi-cultural aspect of their new home too. In the UAE, the community socialises over dinners on a weekly basis or organises monthly outings. The community is strongly held together by the events and festivals that they celebrate. Be it Dashain or Deepawali - they take off from work and set out to meet relatives around. "Just like Dubai, we celebrate mixed cultures in Nepal too. We follow the same traditions here and celebrate Sonam Losar (coinciding with the Chinese New Year), TamuLosar (Gurung New Year), Tamang Losar, and other festivals together," shares Bishnu.
Brave Gurkhas
Although, India was colonised by British for nearly 200 years, the quite neighbour Nepal remained isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. While the British went on to build roads, schools and other facilities in India, Nepal existed as a self-governing land.
Nepal was a sovereign nation since it was united by King Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1744 C.E. While briefly, about one-third of its territory was lost to the British East India Company's armies in the Anglo-Nepalaese War (1814-1816), it never became a British colony due to the relentless war by the Gurkha community. The isolated geographical location of Nepal in the Himalayas also made the British leave Nepal alone. Such was the bravery of the Gurkha soldiers that later on, the British went on to recruit Gurkhas in their colonial army.
It's 2073 in Nepal
If you go to Nepal, don't be surprised if your hotel and restaurant bills have 2073 as the year mentioned on it. The region follows the Vikram Samvat Nepali calendar and it is approximately 56 years and 8 and months ahead of the Gregorian calendar. Locally, Nepali calendar is called Nepali Patro.
Like the Hindu calendar, Vikram Samvat is a lunisideral calendar and uses lunar months and sidereal years for timekeeping. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, Nepal's rings in its New Year with the first day of the month Baishakh, which usually falls in April-May in the Gregorian calendar. New Year is celebrated elaborately with an annual carnival called Bisket Jatra. What may also come as a surprise is that in the Nepali calendar, the days of the months are unknown and changes yearly.
Home to Yeti
Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet are the areas, which were considered home to the Yeti. The names Yeti or Meh-Teh form a part of their history and mythology  of the indigenous people of the region. Yeti or the abominable snowman, locally known as a himamanav - is an ape-like entity taller than average humans and was believed to inhabit the Himalayan region, according to Nepal folklore.
The interest levels around it rose in the 1950s when mountaineers took an expedition in the exploration of the monstrous character. For decades together, the locals have reported seeing an ape-man maneuvering the snowy mountains of Himalayas, but due to lack of conclusive evidence, the scientific community largely regarded Yeti as a legend. Over the years, researchers have matched the DNA from hair samples found in the Himalayan belt and matched it to bears that inhabited the mountains. The mythological character has been depicted in music, films, literature and cartoons like Scooby Doo, Tintin, and Doctor Who. 
We're the valley of UNESCO Heritage sites
Kathmandu is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The seven sites include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhunath and Bauddhanath, and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
Unfortunately, most of the country's unique cultural heritage was destroyed after the devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 and injured 22,000 in 2015. The Durbar Squares in the settlements of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan got destroyed in the calamity. The Buddhist temple at Swayambhunath has also been damaged. Thankfully, the landmark central stupa, with the gazing eyes of the Buddha, still stands strong.
The UNESCO and Nepal's Department of Archaeology (DoA) joined hands to restore the artefacts and architecture of the sites and put it back on the tourism map.

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