When people realise that I am from Nepal, they always tell me I don’t look anything like the last Nepali they met. I am from the Newar ethnic group but I have Aryan features so even people from Nepal tell me that I don’t look like a Newar as I have bigger eyes than Newar people normally have. This is because Newars are a community of mostly Tibeto-Burman and some Indo-Aryan ethnicities and my family seems to lean towards the Indo-Aryan side of the community in our features.
The other day I met a friend of my friend (Gurung) who was from Italy and she told me that I looked just like one of her Italian cousins. She was surprised that I and myfriend (Gurung) look so different even though we both are from the same country. There are times when I meet Indian people and they think I look like an Indian.
The main reason for Nepalese people having such a diverse features is due to the geography and the climatic in Nepal.
Don’t worry if you get confused after reading this post because even Nepali people sometimes can’t say for sure if someone is from Nepal or some other countries as our features match people from so many other countries. I also can’t tell for sure as well.
Here is one of the funny incident. A friend of mine SR was travelling in a train when a group of Nepali guys came and sat on the seat in front of her. She is from the Rai ethnic group so she looks more Asian. The guys did not think that she was a Nepali so they start talking in Nepali about anything and everything. And there were some things you normally won’t say in front of women. Anyway, my friend was very uncomfortable in hearing this but she tried to pretend that she didn’t understand the language. She couldn’t wait to get off the train.
At next stop, her cousin caught the same train and saw her sitting there. So she came and joined her and started speaking in Nepali. Then the guys realised that she was Nepali. They were very embarrassed by their activity so they changed the carriage. It happened a lot to my friends when people mistake them to be from India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesian, Brazil, Korea, Italy etc.
When me and AS were on our holiday in Vietnam, a few people came and talked to us in different languages because they thought we were either Thai, Vietnamese or Pilipino so I am not surprised if you are confused by the Nepali look.
Nepal is a country of four castes and thirty six sub castes and they are a mix of Aryan and Mongolian people. Aryan normally have fair or dark skin, long pointed nose, big eyes, broad chest and shoulders while Mongolians are normally white or fair skin with small eyes and medium built. Brahmin and Chhetri looks Aryan where as Rai, Gurungs, Tamang, Magar looks Mongolians. I find Newar are a mix of both.
Of course it is just a guideline as there are so many inter-caste marriages, it is getting even harder to tell people’s ethnicities apart just by their looks.
Still confused? I thought so :)