Top critical review
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Not a bad beginners book, but not perfect
on June 13, 2011
I read this book before coming to live in Nepal for 2 years. I brought the book along with me for referencing. However, I would have to say that the book is best used by tourists because it only runs through the basics. If you know nothing about Nepal and you want a beginners guide, then this may be perfect for you, but if you're going to be spending more time in Nepal and need to better understand of the culture, I would suggest something more in depth. While it wasn't a bad overview, I have two main problems with it...
1.) When we buy a book like this we're looking for generalizations, semi-truths that will help us acclimate to an unfamiliar culture. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, however, some of the generalizations made in the book are regional or sub-culture specific. In Nepal, daily life in Kathmandu is a stark contrast to the country side, and the tourist areas seem to be almost a country unto themselves. Many of the generalizations she made may have been truer for the country side than the city.
2.) Frankly, there are some aspects of the book that I simply felt she was mistaken about. If you're going to be spending a short time here it's nothing you really need to worry about, but I do want to mention it. One example of this is her mention of drug use in Nepal. While there is by no means a country wide epidemic of drug use, there is a significant problem amongst young people in poverty situations in the city, and some studies have indicated that marihuana use (apart from more extreme drugs) is actually quite common amongst young people in the city and larger Nepalese towns. I felt she may have been misleading about this by downplaying it and saying that Nepali people don't really do drugs, or that marihuana is only used for traditional, religious purposes only. This is not exactly the case.
MISSIONARIES: This is not the book for you. While there are some missionaries who do a lot of research about Nepal before coming, most of you don't seem to. Many of you know very little about the culture beforehand, and some of you seem to be entirely misinformed. If you're going to be going to another country that you know little about, and you're going to be trying to alter an important aspect of their culture, maybe you should be doing a lot more in-depth research than this little beginner's book.
I should mention that there were a lot of little helpful facts in this book, it's extremely well organized, and is very easy to read, so I would suggest it to any tourist spending a short period of time in Nepal.