A Sanskrit word — as old and intrinsic as life itself — means … ‘namas’ giving full respect to guests and ‘te’ specifically to you. This is a way of being rather then a mere greeting and is obvious when I interview Sujan, restaurant manager for the newly opened Namaste Kitchen. I am offered water, I am offered tea.
I feel at home.
Sujan’s journey from the Chitwan Province in Nepal to Raglan has been one of choice. Like many travellers that find themselves here amongst us, he is at home in a surrogate sense. At school, he learnt about the collective we, via Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. There is a connection.
Ed and Norgay are legends who epitomise the spirit of two people. People of the land, fiercely proud and resilient, yet from different ethnicities and faith. Sujan immigrated to New Zealand in 2008 and enrolled as a student in business studies at Wintec. Although homesick, he identified with a bi-culturalism that made him feel at peace. As a Hindu, he embraces the principles of Buddhism, so for him both religions survive amongst inevitable contradiction.
In Nepal, a ten-year civil war from 1995 until 2005 between the incumbent government and Maoist revolutionaries created a stand still whereby development of much needed infrastructure; basics like sanitation and energy, came to halt. I visited Nepal in 2008 and whilst enamoured of the people and their spirit, the daily grind of constant power or transportation shutdown was confronting. Quite simply — one can’t be in a hurry. For self, for Buddha …for Krishna.
Sujan tells me that Nepal is still trying to regain those lost ten years and that it is the indomitable spirit of the people, their belief that endures. This is a country without government subsidies whereby life can be tough if you are born at the wrong end of the scale. The odds are against. However, in Nepalese culture, hospitality is paramount regardless. Manaakitanga.
The menu at Namaste Kitchen reflects influence from all Asian cultures; although it is the Nepalese dishes that Sujan is rightly proud of and keen for me to sample. I ordered Aloo Tama and it was fantastic simply because I know it was made with love. Chef Bal Krishna, from Kathmandu has no less then 22 years experience in the kitchen, at home — in the Middle East, and here in New Zealand.
Namaste Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday, dinner only Monday. And if you happen to find yourself in Silverdale, near Waikato University, there is a sister restaurant that has been feeding the student population for some years now.