Nepal is probably in many people's bucket lists of places they want to visit. And why would it not be? From the mighty mountains to the huge variety of wildlife, Nepal has it all. But going to Nepal can be a bit of a cultural shock to many people. So, let me try to ease that shock a little bit by letting you on to the BIG No Nos while travelling in Nepal.
First name basis does not work in Nepal
As surprising as it may seem, we do not refer to people (especially our seniors) with their first names. If we do use their first names, we use an additional part with the name. For instance, "ji" is a very common and gender neutral tag that you can add to someone's name. For instance, if you want to address, say your taxi driver Ramesh, it would be better to say Ramesh Ji. And its pronounced exactly like the English letter "G". But more commonly we address people as brother or sister in Nepal. So, the best way to call Ramesh would be call him Ramesh Dai. Dai is pronounced with the "th" from the word "The". And if you want to address a woman, didi (same "th" pronunciation) would be a better tag. Didi means an elder sister in Nepali.
What do you do if someone is clearly younger than you? Not to worry, we have a word for younger brother and sister as well. So, if this Ramesh guy is clearly younger than you, you call him Ramesh bhai and bahini for a younger female. Trust me, this will help you a lot in Nepal.
Public display of affection is not appreciated.
While holding hands in public is not really a problem, people do not appreciate tourists kissing or smooching in public. It is not against any laws or anything, but you will be treated a lot better if you would limit the displays of affection to your own room.
Shoes do not enter anyone's house
If you get invited into anyone's house in Nepal, make sure that you leave your shoes at the front door of their house. In Nepal, we do not wear shoes inside the house, so we expect our guests to respect that rule as well. So if you want to respect the local culture, make sure that you do not forget to take your shoes off before entering anyone's house.
I am a big believer of freedom and I believe that people should be allowed to wear whatever they want, but Nepal is also a very conservative country. So if you are wearing a little flashy clothes, do not be surprised if everyone in the street stares at you without shame. It does happen, trust me. Although no one will say anything to you directly, people do not appreciate revealing clothes.
Namaste is a golden word. We greet our elders by saying namaste and bowing down our heads. So people really like it when you greet them with a warm namaste. I will be writing more about Nepal and travelling in Nepal. So stay tuned @sijuka.