03 May, 2010

Building a house.

Today I helped build a house.

Well, that’s an exaggerated statement as I only ‘helped’ for about 20 minutes. As Bhola, Jaya and I sat having our morning tea, a couple of neighbors stopped by. As the conversation turned to strictly Nepali, my mind and eyes wondered off the circle of people sitting around me under the trees. I focused my attention to something going on across the road. What I saw were women on the ground throwing up what looked like large rocks to some men who were standing on the top of a wall. It was evident that they were building something, but it looked like the rocks were being thrown up to the men who then threw them over the wall to the ground. I wondered why the rocks were thrown over instead of walked around the wall.

Bhola finished talking and I asked him what was going on across the road. He said oh, they are building a house. And like always, he said “do you want to go see”. We walked over there and the image became clear. The women and men on the ground were tossing up big lumps of mud to the people on the top of the wall (which was actually a brick structure – soon to be a house). Bhola and I crawled up to the roof to get a good view of what was happening. Upon catching the tossed mud balls, the people on the top were then throwing the mud balls onto the roof of the house. The mud will be approximately a foot thick and will become the floor of the 2nd story (the walls of the 2nd story will be built after the floor is done.)

We climbed down and proceeded to help the folks on the bottom toss the mud balls up. It’s wasn’t as easy as it looked and after a couple of short tosses (like a small child trying to make a basket with a basketball –legs spread and tossing underhand with both hands) I got the hang of it. Everyone seemed to be having fun with the process as mud was everywhere and laughter abounded. Some mud balls were missing their targeted hands and some were thrown over the head of the catcher. The mud came from a big pit where people were inside mixing the dirt with water. That wet dirt was then shoveled out of the pit to the ‘ball makers’ who would grab a chunk of wet dirt and then roll it into a ball shape in the dry dirt. Those balls were then transferred to the tosser; so the assembly line went. It was a tedious process and it wasn’t’ long before my back was feeling the work.

Bhola pooped out before me and suggested that we head back to the house. Once there, he called for the older CPH boys and told them to go over and help, you know like people do when they actually know and like their neighbors. I wanted to get some close up photos of the process, but I am very aware of my photo taking outside CPH. I don’t want to be a ‘tourist’ and snap photo’s like I’m looking at animals in a zoo. I am sure they wouldn’t have minded, but all the same, I went to the edge of the property at CPH and zoomed in on the process as not to make such a “foreigner” of myself.

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