Tapai Nepali Ho?

Now being a bideshi Nepali there has been one too many time’s where I’ve heard or been asked the question ‘Abuii Timi Nepali Ho?’ After a voluntary pause my reply always goes along the lines of an awkward ‘ahh ho ni’, but in my head it’s more along the lines of ‘Sankha lageko thiyo bhane kina Angrezi ma nasodheko??’ pure guffadis, I say.  

But really, the question I ask today is; what makes a Nepali face? Living in the UK where majority of the Nepalese are from the Mongol Gurkha background we have become so used to seeing sharp oriental features and dare I say… a flat face. That’s been embedded as the image of a ‘Nepali face’ here, at least for some of us. Yes, I too have those features and have no intentions to ignite friction between different people here. For a lot of ‘matwalis’ in the UK, only a ‘matwali’ face is considered ‘Nepali’.  This awkwardness can be experienced in various community events, social gatherings and even between the youth. A moment occurred after leaving a club with a friend who is ‘Upadhyay’. A fellow Gurung friend walked along to pose a question to my company ‘Omygaddd are you Nepali?’ she shrieked tipsily. The one too much vodka must’ve really recharged her as she quickly jumped to answer her own question by adding ‘but you don’t look Nepali’. And yes my Upadhyay friend stood there, looking bemused and confirmed that he is indeed Nepali.
Image: Nayatara Gurung Kakshapati

So there you have an account from a ‘matwali’ side. Now let me take you to Berlin. A recent drive I had to Germany was wonderful. I joke, it wasn’t. More than seeing sights I was stuffed in the car being a human navigator and whatever I saw outside the window was of no significance to me. Berlin, the capital city of Germany failed to live up to my minimal imagination. Actually, I lied… I had no imagination or expectation from the city whatsoever but it still didn’t Lexcite me. Moving on. Whilst waiting for the train at Hardenbergplatz it came to my attention that I could hear some Nepali chatter. I made myself available and walked along to greet my first ever German Nepalis. My approach was met with the daunting question ‘Tapai Nepali ho?’… No way homie!!! For obvious reasons, I didn’t say that and by now you’ve probably gathered that my new German Nepali encounters were not ‘matwali’. How interesting right? So for them the image of a Nepali face is constructed on Aryan features. Wow… London to Berlin, only few hours apart but our ideas were already poles apart.

K… Kkkk… Kathmandu. Now what do I say about this city. I feel comfortable… I feel fine and know I’m very much Nepali and surrounded by Nepalis but the moment I step into a Government office = WHOOSH. The feeling of being a foreigner in my own country hits. And it certainly hits hard. I guess this feeling that I have is felt even more by certain groups of people in a more public sphere of space in the city. Example Uno! The dai’s and bhai’s that sell chatpatey in the capital have it worse. We as people… as Nepalis are still failing to acknowledge that people of Madhesi origin are Nepali. When one thinks on the surface, you can totally see why the Madhesi uprising took place a few years ago. 
So I may have babbled, offended or opened your eyes. Or you might currently be cursing me for wasting your few minutes that you could have spent viewing some model in an awkward pose but I simply wrote this article as I believe there is not a ‘Nepali face’. How can there be a ‘Nepali face’ that represents our char jaat chattish barna? Though it may take years I have faith that one day people with Tharu features or the groups from the hidden villages of Solu get acknowledged as a Nepali and comments such as ‘oh ho kasto Chinese haru jasto manche’ or ‘tapai haru India bata ayeko ho’ slowly fade away.
PS. The debate regarding is it char jaat chattish barna or char barna chattish jaat is like never ending. Let me know your thoughts below
Read Also:
Lex Limbuhttps://lexlimbu.com
Lex Limbu is a non-resident Nepali blogger based in the UK. YouTube videos is where he started initially followed by blogging. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Matwali means mongolian (in uk), n mongolian and newars (in nepal)..

    This is one of ur best write up dude.. So true n interesting.. Ur website is alive again.. btw it’s “char barna chhattis jaat” by book, and “char jaat chhattis barna” by tongue..

  2. Man I am nepali and i look like a complete white/italian/persian chick. I get even worse responses when i tell them that I am indeed Nepali.

  3. Nice update indeed.. Yeah!Nepalese people should know and use the line “char barna chattish jaat” practically. I’ve recently been to Nepal and people used to treat and greet me as i’m a foreigner and i was like whatt!! They made me feel so awkward to talk in my own nepali language since they made me a tourist. Lol

  4. Here in Australia, it’s dark colored ppl are meant to be Nepalese as most of the population tends to think Nepali are Indian. Hmmmm….. N most of all I hbe Mongolian background and even in Nepalese event I go to they say I look like chepangey re ( Chinese or other Asian background). It’s sad at times when ppl don’t know where Nepal is..but I am proud to be Nepali an I love how ppl try to guess where we are from. One of the dd who was bahun in caste used to work in nandos n most customers used to ask her if she was portugese hahahaha… M not being castist, just telling the stories, it’s fun as well.., god bless our country and our ppl 😉

  5. LEX itz funny we dnt knw wht we doin ourself lol ,dherai lai thaha nahunusakcha “MATwali” means? pahile pahile ko samayama mongolz dherai jaad raksi khayera maatera hidney rahaney garthyo so dat time ma mongolharulai matwali naam diyeko ho matera hidney matwa lai matwali bhaniyeko ho so dnt b proud ourself to gev a name matwali ..say baru mongol tara matwali haina…!n char jaat chattis barna ma lol mongolz ko caste aaudaina serch d history ..so sabai nepali le yo bujnu jaruricha kina yasto bho…nepali bhaye pachi nepalko ko jankari hunu dherai jaruri cha dekheko ta bhram huncha bhane suneko kura nagarau aafai jaanera bujne kosis garau…

    • Well in my opinion matwali are those cast where jaad raksi is used in even birth,death celebration etc now the word doesent seem bad for me afterall saying us mogolian doest sound good its like we r from mogolia jasto.may history does have something but still matwali sounds good after all newar haru pani cha euta daro matwali

  6. i dont understand why we call ourself mongolian??? People in outside world think mongolian means from mongolia…For example a japanese never says his face looks mongolian and a chinese never says that.Having travelled many countries Lex they always call them by their nationality.

  7. I am from the northern part of Nepal. i can definitely relate to being treated as foreigner or rather as a second class citizen in my own country. Sometimes, it depresses me to think about it. I am treated better in foreign countries than in my own country!!! oh well!!! hopefully our generation will be able to change this!!!

  8. I am from the northern part of Nepal. i can definitely relate to being treated as foreigner or rather as a second class citizen in my own country. Sometimes, it depresses me to think about it. I am treated better in foreign countries than in my own country!!! oh well!!! hopefully our generation will be able to change this!!!

  9. I like that there’s diversity between Nepalese people in terms of the way we look, but I just don’t like the fact that some can be more judgemental towards our own kind..and when they keep insisting that ‘we are not and don’t look Nepalese’ then that takes the piss.

  10. Since bahun chetris have started consuming alcohol , they are now new matwalis and they have joined fellow matwali clubs in Nepal. Matwali simply means people who consume alcohol
    I have been watching Lexlimbu growing up in the Internet and I have a lot of expectation from this young boy. It’s a harsh truth that Nepal is ruined by greedy bahuns (not all bahuns ) and I did not surprised when you stepped in to a government office and you suddenly felt that you were a foreigner . More than 90% government employees are bahuns , chetris, madhise and Newars .

    whereas Gunung , Magar , rai limbu and other Mongolian people were making their living by going to gulf countries and joining british and Indian Gurkha army. This week Government of Nepal has directed Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to end Gurkha recruitment . In the past bahuns and chetris sent MAGURALI to die in foreighn land . now they want to end Gurkha service because thousand of gurkhas and their family were able to get uk residency for serving in british army and sons and daughters of “Matawalis” are getting British education which is unbearable to Nepali Bahuns and chetris . This is the very reasons their going to end gurkha recruitment

    Googled “Govt directs MoFA to end Gurkha recruitment”

  11. Great Article Indeed!

    This is something I encountered myself several times during my month long trip to Nepal after 10 Years in the states.

    Hopefully, things will change in the near future at least within the kathmandu valley

  12. I think we should be recognize as by culture than caste as they do in Latino culture. Even though we look different, we sure have this unique Nepalipan that cannot be copied by Indian or other Asian.

  13. aabuu Berlin didn’t Lexcite him gare,dude ya know berlin is famous for underground clubs ni.ani Germany ma aru caste ko manche haruni chan ni not only Bahuns.
    Well many germans dont even know that our land Nepal even exists. It is more upsetting to be asked by a nepali if u r a nepali…..I mean hello form which way u dont see me like a nepali….as i look n feel myself like nepali.

  14. Awesome write up,

    Some people are so stereotypical and think that “NEPALI” bhanne bitikei it has to be that the person looks,acts or talks a certain way, not only that, but if a person has a different name rather than the usual names we hear, the question that comes your way is …timro naam ta khairey ko jasto cha ani baini kasari nepali, kun jaat and all that, personal experience since my name is Vanessa ,,i mean what’s in a name, or how a person looks like,,why do we people jump into conclusions and make assumptions and create our own image of a “NEPALI” …i couldn’t have agreed more to your write up…keep up the good work lex,,u never fail to impress me 🙂

  15. Nepal boarder side ko bhelae dhoti bhahek aru sabai pure Nepali hun. These dhoties belongs to bihar(India) not Nepal, just like Nepali people in Darjeeling,sikkim n various part of India..


  17. yeah i get that most weekend and week days ….. as my mom grand parents are burmese but my mom’s mom got married with newars .. she was born newar and married with thakurie so i dunno how to derive my self mate ahaha it sound preety annoying and confusing thou but i was born nepalese holding nep passport so yeah haha ……but being so multicultural i usually get like viet,cambo,philo,indo,chinese and south korean,…. and i tell to pple am nepalese and am not dumb brow hahha…

  18. @Kirataslimbu

    I wonder if you’re the infamous diliprai from youtube under a one off alias..lol. If this is not you, I’m preety sure he or she will come across this blog and have something similiar (and probably more militant) to say. Let’s hear from all..lol

    I read statements about anti-baun,chettri,newar,madhesi,etc all over the web, and as someone never been born or lived in Nepal and of ‘khas’ heritage, I wonder how I should respond to this. Firstly, I think to target a certain group for the basis of their political failings is incorrect. What if there was Gurung, Rai, Limbu, in government, and they acted in corruption and nepotism ways? Other groups would just point the blame at at that particular group. How does that help the situation and the cause for equality? It’s just the same bullshit over and over again. You might say, well if we kick out all the baun, chettri, newar politicians and replace them with Gurung, Limbu, politicians things will be better. It’s really a naive way of looking at it. This is more about equality. Humans whatever their caste are very tribal by nature, and in this day and age it’s a disease to the human race. Would you like it if I prejudged by your caste or your values? Different things right?

    Me and Lex probably look like people from different corners of the globe but we’re both Nepali in cultural heritage and I’m sure share lots of common values. Is that not the future of the human race than thinking one group is more messed up than the other?

    My second point is about your reason behind ending Gurkha recruitment:

    “Matawalis are getting British education which is unbearable to Nepali Bahuns and chetris . This is the very reasons their going to end gurkha recruitment.”

    I don’t believe this to be true. I’m sure the Maoists had this in their political agenda long ago, and is more a nationalistic cause than any real caste-based agenda.

    Perhaps you’re thinking I’m yet another baun, chettri, madheshi long nose supporter but the truth of the matter is I understand where you’re coming from, looking at the history of Nepal and it’s current state. I hate the fact my race (for lack of a better word) are fucking up the government and Nepal, and I hope to see more equality and integrity in the future.

    My last point is about your first point:

    “they are now new matwalis and they have joined fellow matwali clubs in Nepal.”

    It’s funny I have to agree with this because as ex-Gurkha communities have settled abroad and more and more civilian Nepali’s seek employment and education abroad, it’s interesting see myself as a Nepali of Khas heritage in a minority – the new matwali’s..lol. Seriously though, I hope to see more and more folks of Gurung, Limbu, Rai, etc, whatever heritage getting more knowledgable and in positions of influence with equality in mind, then I think the future will truly be bright.

    No to cast-ism/baun bashing/oppression/inequality.


  19. This is very true. Even in India an oriental featured(I hate to call Mongolian since for me a Mongolian is a person who is from the country Mongolia)person is considered and taken as Nepali.As for Germany, since they have had met or seen only Nepalese who are government employees who were there to attend training, workshops and seminars and almost all government employees except very few did not belonged to janajati community so thats how they had such perception about Nepalese.

  20. i’m fed-up of being asked ”oh!!!!!!..u nepali?????”.well,not just being asked. Most of those people,[be it Nepalese,or be it any other foreigners], who shoot me this question like a gun-shot probably have a biased concept that a typical ”nepali” shouldn’t resemble a ”chinese” ”japanese”etc face. Well, if u trace back the history of human civilization, we can find the reason why ”some” nepalese look like ”indians”,and why the other ”some” nepalese people are a carbon copy of ”chinese” ”jap”or ”koreans”. Its all about immigration,globalization,and blah blah. …..CHAAR BARNA,CHATTIS NOUTANKI. 😀

  21. Only thing I can say : here is US most of the oriental people are regarded as very very very dumb.lol

  22. I am neither a chetri, bahun, newar, gurung, magar, limbu and rai. Can you all imagine that what might any Nepali who doesn’t falls on earlier mentioned castes Experience wherever they are? When I use my name, it sounds like an aliens name to any Brits and I get the same response saying why is my name not Gurung, Rai, Limbu, Magar. And, amongst every Nepali strangers(5 years to 100 years of age),forget about my first name, every one is excited to identify my caste/surname, which really hurts as this is a gift from a fellow Nepali insted of any Brits!!
    I would like to share an incident of mine that happened in 2006, which I found really touching. One of my senior bosses was leaving my workplace and we were attending his farewell party. My boss asked a simple question to all my work colleagues( all Nepalis of 4 jaat 36 barnas, but mainly dominated by Gs and Ms), what would they prefer To see a change in our department. Some said working hours, more leaves, better management and career progression oppurtunities. But, one of my work colleagues replied that he would prefer to see a change in BLOOD of all Work colleagues before anything. This really made the whole room silent including the out-going boss!!
    Any comments…

  23. You should be proud that you are the descedants of great Chingis khan and mongols who settled in Nepal. When Mong occupied in the 13 th century Afghanistan Pakistan Tibet their descendants moved to Nepal. Read the history. I am from Mongolia and I would like to meet my brothers and sisters mongolian descedants in Nepal. Similarly Hasara peole in Afghanistan who are the desendants of Chingis khan’s eldest son Hasar are our

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