I have been hit with a wave of kindness and nature and I never want to leave. We left Kathmandu today for a beautiful 8 hour car ride through the mountains and are spending the night in Meghauli before heading to Daldale tomorrow afternoon. Monday are introductions with the kids and lessons begin on Tuesday! I can’t wait.
Because this was my second time visiting Kathmandu, I was not surprised by any aspects of the city. As the volunteers arrived in Kathmandu, one of my missions became showing them the beauty of what the city had hidden down its narrow alleyways. The gastronomic genius of the food was readily apparent, as well as the spirit of the Nepali people that welcomed us with no reservations. By touring the city while we waited for our supplies to be located, I hoped to acclimate the volunteers to another culture far removed from their own.
In retrospect, we were not well-suited for Etihad's first class. We took many shameless selfies drinking and eating complimentary items. We were always meant for more than any luxury could offer us. And Meghauli and Daldale will give us more than any material convenience ever has.
Travelling east to the corner of Kathmandu Valley lies the historic city of Bhaktapur. It has been so well well-maintained I can only imagine it serves as an inspiration for the rest of Nepal’s impressively upheld architecture and preserved culture. Whenever a piece of the ancient relic falls off, they carefully reconnect the vestige onto its original piece instead of creating a replica. The town is still home to many of the trades and crafts that existed centuries ago like pottery, carpentry and welding. During the group’s short day in Bhaktapur I had the honor of buying hand painted lanterns from this elderly man along with one of the only hand painted calendars that recognized the arbitrary year of 2015. The Nepalsese are currently in the year 2071. Although they seemingly exist during an advanced measure of time, the underdeveloped state of many aspects of their lives are seen at every turn. After we awed over the lavish building where a king resided (complete with a magnificent pool surrounded but statuesque snakes that ejected water) we were stricken by a bombardment of poverty. A group of small children literally moaned to be fed or given rupees. Without a doubt, they would’ve preferred the latter. I gladly gave them the granola bars I had packed for myself, opening them before I handed them over. A common incident, practiced by many of the jaded adults, is to ‘adopt’ homeless children and send them to the streets to beg for money or food. If the food is unopened they will sell it back to vendors at a fraction of the price, which is still an accomplishment in their drug addled minds. When I gave one boy a granola bar he ran off for a second and brought back his group of friends. I urged them to share and they listened. Then, I gave one of the girls another opened granola bar. She instantly pocketed it and ran off. It saddened me to try and understand the motivations that led her to choose a measly snack over loyalty to her friends. The other children didn’t seem to mind, as they were still young and easily distracted by life’s little joys like running up and down some stairs or laughing at the foreign gibberish that spewed out of our mouths.
Continuing our journey, we took a bus to Pashupatinath, the land where life preludes and escapes the masses. In one of the temples, people go to pray for the unborn. They hope that their effort and wishes will bring fertility to those who lack it. Representative of mandalas, which symbolize the radial balance of life as we go full circle from the physical realm to the spiritual realm, the area also hosts several funeral services every day. The dead are placed on the banks by the Bagmati River and cremated. The shelters where the fallen are burned vary in appearance based on the caste in which they were born. Once the bodies are fully cremated, they are sent off into the river. I like this procession a lot more than the practice Westerners employ. Sending the bodies off suggests the idea of letting go more so than tombstones or urns, which remain stagnant and draw people back to toil on death. Overall, the Nepalese people seem to live in the present way more than the people who reside in my little end of the world. Hopefully, as I continue onward, I can manifest their approach to living in the here and now.