Cooking in Nepal
Generally, when we go into a kitchen, we are concerned primarily with making great foods. We don’t typically think about how to make a fire or whether there is sufficient fuel to start a fire, because getting fuel has always been available — it’s a basic commodity. Therefore, as a person who grew up in a developed country, I simply went into the kitchen and turned on the gas. Living in Nepal, however, has totally changed my mind and I now understood how even basics commodities can be difficult to obtain for some people in other countries.
After the major earthquake in April, the people of Nepal have experienced severe hardships, but the fuel shortage has added to their suffering. The supply of fuel from India completely stopped from September until Feburary 2016. It has been difficult or impossible for people to get any cooking gas from the supply sites or any gasoline from gas stations. Because of the gas shortage, most of the restaurants have had to close. Some people wait outside gas distribution sites for hours, sometimes overnight to purchase gas. Many of my fellow students have studied for their exams waiting outside these sites only to learn that there was no gas to purchase. Other people have paid four to five times what they usually pay to buy only half a tank of gas on the black market, and then there are those people who have resorted to building wood fires in their backyards or the roof of their houses.
But cooking over a wood fire is really a pain. First, one is exposed to the cold during the early morning hours and sometimes you have to spend 20 to 30 minutes in the cold trying to start and stabilize the fire. There is also the hardship of finding and chopping wood, staying clean from carrying wood or getting soot over everything from the smoke, and then there is always the problem of getting smoke in your eyes.
As a monk working in a small monastery, where I’m require to do a lot of cooking, I face these difficulties when trying to prepare food for the other monks, but I have learned many important lessons from these hardships. But I hope the fuel shortage will be over soon and things will return to normal and I can concentrate on simply making delicious food.
~Lobsang from UK