Another #LifeEh story!
How close two individuals are to one another, one can deduce from a number of different things. In Nepal, the pronoun and/or the verb conjugation one uses when addressing one another CAN be an indicator.
The use of the most informal pronoun Ta (तँ) between two friends can indicate a real closeness. (If not, the use of the pronoun by one, but not the other in case of those who aren’t kins, can indicate a difference in social status — caste and/or class — or what the speaker thinks of — or how the speaker views — the other person relative to himself/herself.)
Anyway, since returning to Nepal seven years ago, I have discovered I have NO Nepali female friends who I use the most informal pronoun to/with! In other words, in the 15-plus million Nepali female population, I cannot count a single one as someone I am so close to that I can be so informal with!
Of course, I have international female friends I made during my time as a student at the United World College in Italy, Grinnell College in the US, Lancaster University in the UK, and the University of New South Wales in Australia. I also have other international female friends I made during my time at the various international schools around the world as an international teacher. I also have other female friends I have made along the way, pretty much exclusively international though. Among them are those who I am still close to and/or am able to talk to about pretty much everything!
But NOT a single Nepali woman who I can say I have been really close to or am still close to and am able to talk to about everything under the sun!
I came to realize this observing interactions between men and women in Kathmandu who had attended co-educational schools in the valley. They referred to each other using Ta (तँ), the most informal pronoun and language I myself mostly reserve for my St. Xavier’s School classmates. I struggle to use the pronoun and language with other Nepali men, forget about using them with a Nepali girl or woman!
Looking back now, I have realized that I had very limited opportunities to meet Nepali females throughout my life. To begin with, we were all male siblings at home. And then I went off to an all-boys — the first five years at a boarding school at that! I think from fourth grade onwards, we were taught exclusively by male teachers. By the time I reached fifth grade, I discovered I was a very very sensitive and very shy around females (which I mostly lost leaving the country). Not long after completing my secondary schooling at the all-boys school, I left Nepal and spent most of the next twenty-five years abroad.
I did NOT come in close contact with Nepali females for any significant length of time the entire time I lived abroad! In the majority of the cities I lived, there were hardly any Nepalis to begin with anyway! In the cities where there were — such as in Hong Kong, London, New York, and Sydney — unless they were relatives and/or friends from the Nepal, I kind of avoided them, the details of which could be a whole blog post on its own altogether. I’ll say this though: one of the number of reasons for going abroad had been to “escape” from the country and the people.