11
Oct

Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day


Nathan: We moved to Nepal from Canada in order
to start a new life. Danica: we wanted to live a more simple life and also to enjoy
some adventure. Oh, oh you are strong! Nathan: Nepal is sandwiched between Tibet and India.
In the last valley before the Himalayas flatten into the plains is Hetauda, our home and platform
for this challenge. Danica: Hetauda being a city, you can clearly see there is a contrast
between those who have money and those who are struggling. (Cow: Moooo) (Nepali spoken
and laughing) Nathan: The average daily income in Nepal is about 2 dollars. But 30% of the
population live on less than 50 cents. (Laughing) Danica: The people here are hardworking, but
they are also very happy. And even children are taught responsibility at a young age so
they learn how to work hard. Nathan: Can we live on less than a dollar a day and be happy
with what we have got? We decided to accept the challenge of living on less than a dollar
a day for at least one month. We want to see what it is like to be content on a dollar
a day, not just to fight through a month of brutal hardness that we don’t enjoy, but to
learn what things that we can work around. If we crave something, what is the second
best that we can still do on this budget. Danica: We asked our friend Sudin to come
down from Kathmandu, the capital city, and help us with filming this documentary. He
was brave enough to take the crazy Jeep ride down through the mountains just in order to
help us out. Nathan: He accepted the challenge to live on a dollar a day along with us. Sudin:
Although it is not a different country, even a different city, I did not realize it was
so different. Danica: All of the food that we had in our house, all the toiletries, everything
we put away for the duration of the challenge in order to start fresh. You can think of
100 rupees as 1 American dollar or 100 cents. Danica: So starting from day one we counted
out all of our money, our budget for the whole month, and we put it in a jar, and that was
our budget, that was all we could spend for this challenge. We are the ones that are going
to embark on 32 days of living on a dollar a day. Why 32 days? That is a very good question.
Nepal does everything a bit different. Nepal has its own calendar, the Nepali calendar,
also known as: Nepali calendar. We are in July, 2015, but in Nepal, we have jetted to
the future to 2072. And Saun is the name of the month. How is it? Saun. Saun. Saun begins
on July 17th and ends on August 17th with a total of 32 days. Two of my friends asked
me to do it. That is a good enough reason, right? (Laughing) I think it is good for me
and its different. I have never done it, living off of a dollar a day, and I think I will
learn something from it. I am used to eating things like honey, yogurt! Coffee, and Coke.
I think I will miss them a lot. Self-control, I think, because it is very easy to spend,
you just see things and you grab them. That is going to be difficult: self-control. Day
30. (Laughing) Danica: There is 32 days in this month. Sudin: Okay, then day 32. I am
loving it. For the first day of our challenge, we are going to Bastipur, a small village
outside of Hetauda. Sudin are going to bike there, we are going to visit some friends
who live there and experience how village life is like in Nepal. We did spend 500 rupees
on fuel, so we will see if we can make that last for the whole month. That will be tricky.
That is about 250 kilometers on the bike. We usually do a little bit more than that
in a month, so we have to be careful. Straight from the tree to our mouths, we got fresh
mangoes. The king of fruit, the jackfruit. None of it cost a penny, just a little effort,
a little prep, but well worth it. A bamboo reed, a line, a chunk of styrofoam, a hook
and a worm, and we are fishing. With a hooked machete and a sack, we are crab fishing. Here,
you eat them whole, shell and all. Needar: Okay, just wait, wait! Good. We have one.
Fighting, fighting, fighting. Okay, now he cannot do anything. Look, like this. Soft,
otherwise it will be hard. Okay! Okay. If we throw it, this one is delicious. Nathan:
After some fun in the river, we have the reward of a bowl of 40 little crabs to fry and fill
our bellies. Sudin and I just finished our first day of the challenge in Bastipur. The
simplicity of village life is that, you have so much available for you in your own fields
that you can pick and eat. So people here may be monetarily poor, but they have enough
food, and a very quiet, nice life. To stay in budget means sometimes going without the
motorbike and using the good old pedal bike. But mine needs some repairs. Bicycle repair:
30 cents. What I am finding the biggest challenge for this is dealing with my reactive hypoglycemia.
It is a new thing that I am learning how to deal with since we came to Nepal, although,
I have probably had it for a long time. With hypoglycemia and also with a really high metabolism,
I have to eat within 3 hours, when I don’t, my mind becomes cloudy, I get irrational,
and can’t think straight. I have to figure this out better. It is day 5 now.
The open markets are where we get our fresh produce. Having no real fixed prices, we have
got to get used to the bartering system, so at times you have got to fight for your fruit.
Our bag: 5 kgs of roti (flour), which will last us maybe half of the time. Even though
daal-baat, or rice and lentils, is the most common food eaten in Nepal, it is more budget
friendly to have roti, Indian flat bread, because it’s 33 rupees per kilogram as oppose
to 50 rupees per kilogram for the cheapest, lowest grade rice you could possibly find.
For our beverages, we have to keep it simple. We have tea in the mornings, always with our
breakfast, and sometimes we have it in our afternoon. But either than that, we have to
stick to water. Everything else for a dollar a day is just too expensive. We learned that
the flowers of the banana tree contains pockets of sweet nectar, which makes for a tasty snack.
I found these cute little packets in the shops. Nathan: These are common. Danica: Yeah, I
have seen these before. And a lot of people use these actually. It’s little packets, one
use shampoo. Each are 2 rupees. We compared the price difference between these and buying
a bottle of shampoo from the supermarket, which is what we usually do. Nathan: This
will blow your mind. Usually, if you buy in bulk it is cheaper, right? Well, and sometimes
that is true here too, but in certain products it also does cater to people who cannot afford
to buy in bulk at one time, but can only buy things in small quantities at a time. These
are 7 mL each, they are each 2 rupees. So, here we have the same product. This is 650
mL, so 93 of these little packages will fill this, and they’re each 2 rupees. So 93 of
them would cost 186 rupees. Well, this bottle costs 400 rupees. Danica: It is the same product.
Nathan: It is the exact same product. But this is crazy. You are paying over double
the price just to have it in a squirt bottle. Danica: The only downside about these things,
I would say, is that it is more litter, it is more garbage. So, you are using one, and
then you are throwing it away. So that is contributing to more of the problem with garbage
disposal and pollution. You would think that on a dollar a day, that we have to stick to
cooking ourselves. In many parts of Asia, though, eating food out can be surprisingly
inexpensive. Here are examples of meals out that are less than 30 cents a person. Aloo
parotha. Veg pakhora. Aloo chop. And one of our favorite street food snacks: chaat pate.
Served up on someone’s leftover homework. Milk popsicles
for 10 cents a pop. Samosa. Finding clean
water is always a struggle here. You have just got to get to know the spots that are
safe. Trial and error is not always pretty. It is day 11, and we have got a hankering
for meat. So, we went out into the market and got the cheapest possible meat we could
find, which is supposed to be intestine. Basically, we got stomach. But it is water buffalo stomach,
and it goes for about a dollar for a kilogram. So, we are going to try to make a meal out
of it. What long intestines you have! This is huge. Okay, that is all I will have for
now. This is my first taste. I am a little nervous. I hope it is good. I will get a little
piece of the…of everything in there. It is okay. It is okay. I was worried it was
going to be too chewy or something. But it is alright. Mmmm. That is a shout-out to Mark
Weins at migrationology.com. Funny guy. It is good, let us have some. Hey, it is day
13, I got a cold. I feel miserable. I am by myself right now. It is raining outside, gives
the whole mood of…of evil and pain. On day 11, we got the intestines and stomach, which
is the cheapest meat you can get here. There is some comments on Instagram, because we
had taken a snapshot of our food list. And it said “intestine/stomach.” …wondering,
well, is that medicine that you need for your intestines/stomach. But, no, no, that is what
we bought to eat. And, it was delicious. So that answers that question. Another thing
we are learning is how to go without a refrigerator. So, like, getting milk or meat is a pain,
because you have to get it on the same day. A big challenge of this, though, is craving
certain foods that we just cannot get here. I am craving chicken nuggets. Anything McDonald’s
I would be happy to eat. Although we both got sick for about a week, we eventually recovered.
This is my first day out of the house for 4 days. And the problem with being sick at
home on a budget, is that you are craving good food, but you can’t go into the kitchen
and stick nachos in the microwave or pre-packaged food. Everything that is on budget, you have
to prepare yourself, and if you are sick, you do not want to prepare it. So, this is
the first time out. We are using the rest of the entire day’s budget on dinner tonight.
We are going crazy on street mo:mo: and some fried street food. The good thing is that
the last few days, we have got ahead on budget, so we can use a full 100 rupees, basically
like a full dollar on this meal now. So, for us, this is going to be a real treat, and
we are really looking forward to it. These delicious looking little lumps of goodness
are called mo:mo:. Very, very popular, in fact, probably the most popular street food
here in Nepal. Tibetan steamed dumplings. These plates are packed leaves. And after
you finish…it is very environmentally friendly. For less than a dollar each, we got a plate
of mo:mo:s, some hot dogs, and some mystery meat. Danica: I don’t want to know what that
is. How do people manage to have electronics on
a tight budget? We went to a local electronics repair shop to learn a lesson or two. Raju
and Sagar are a father and son team. We learned a valuable lesson from Raju and Sagar: maintenance
keeps costs down. So let’s put this pudding to the proof. Ah, sink is clogged. Sometimes,
a man needs to do disgusting things. That is so nasty. (gagging) Spick and span! Here,
a haircut, head massage, and friendly service all goes for 50 cents. However great a deal
a haircut may be, it is still half a day’s budget. So we resort to the home job. We have
been doing it this way for a long time though. Loving every minute of it. Danica: I don’t
actually know what I am doing. I am not really a hair dresser. For more than five years,
I have been cutting Nathan’s hair, because it is free, and I guess he doesn’t mind bad
haircuts. Just cutting. This is my little friend, Monita’s house. There is two small
rooms, and 10 people live together in this home. In this home, there are only three beds,
so everyone else has to sleep on the floor. One thing that helps the family keep costs
down, is they cook their meals outside on this mud stove, and they use wood instead
of gas. Although only being 14 years old, she is a hard little worker. She goes to a
nearby tap to collect water for the family each day. They work on the land surround their
house. There is rice fields where they can collect crab and snails. And Monita’s father
also works at a small little pond where they hatch fish, so they get to eat fish nearly
every day. We brought our catch home to fry it up. Nathan: I think you should put salt
in there. It was harder to get the meat out than we thought. It is too much work just
to get a tiny little piece of meat. A few days later, for round 2 of crab and snails,
Monita and her brother showed up at our house with a big batch to show us how to cook it.
It tasted a lot better the second time! (slurping) …inhale it. He needed a nap after all that
hard work. For many around the world, entertainment takes
a major chunk from the pocketbook. On a dollar a day, we make sure that our fun is free.
Men here usually only swim with other men around because they’re usually in their underwear…or
less. Many places in the world, football or soccer is a very common sport, a favorite
sport of many because usually all you need is to maintain one soccer ball, and many people
can play, although cricket is also quite popular too. A lot of times during the hot season,
it’s too hot to play outside, so we end up spending a lot more time indoors. Karom board
is one of those great indoor games. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I’m going for the other one. So it’s
day 31: one day left. Yesterday we moved into our new house, we are on the roof of our new
house right now. And today is a bhanda, nationwide bhanda where the highways are closed, everything
is closed. Then we found out tomorrow is also a closure, meaning the roads won’t open at
all today, but our friends that we are meeting in the national park, they said, “Well, foreigners
can travel on the roads during the closure.” Well we did not know that. So we got our stuff
ready as quickly as we could, but once we had headed out on the road, it had already
started crazy raining, like CRAZY raining. Monsoon rain came down, the roads were washed
out, and we just…we came back. We will sleep here tonight and we will go early to the national
park tomorrow. Hopefully it is not raining then. Got to change the plans, got to go with
the weather. We managed to get a free stay at a hotel including meals in exchange for
doing a review, and we got to do some awesome activities. A great reward for our efforts.
We got to get right up close with the elephants and pet them and follow them out into the
jungle with their trainers where they go out to haul in lumber, and also where they go
to do jungle safaris. After that, we went down to the river for bathing the elephants,
one of the funnest activities that we got to do. This is part of the elephant’s daily
routine: their trainer takes them down to the river for a bath, and it’s actually quite
enjoyable for them, so that was fun to be part of that. It was a really nice way to
end the final day of our challenge. We have successfully finished our 32 days of living
on a dollar a day. We have learned how important it is to keep a budget, and how knowing where
our money is going keeps us spending our money smart. How did you find this place? We are
in the middle of the jungle. It was Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor? (laughing) Bringing this documentary
right to you is us, Danica, Nathan, and Sudin. That’s a lot better. If you could be a tree,
what tree would you be? A pine, a sequoia, a redwood, a cedar? A tulip tree? Ahh, I just
kicked the tripod. You kicked the tripod. No I did. A tripod tree. You have an incoming
call… And the Nepali calendar starts on different days of the month as opposed to
the Gregorian calendar. Will we come back safe? Who knows? Will we die? Who knows? Will
Sudin die? We hope not. Uhh…the… Sorry. Hee hee. We are just here to live on a dollar
a day, we are not here to solve plastic issues. Yeah, that is for the next documentary. Another
Day, Another Dollar. Dolla’. Dollar.

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