So they say “third time lucky”, and I truly hope they are right, because I have managed to lose this blog entry twice already. It is a challenge to write it all on Notes on my phone, and I was close to throwing said phone in the Trisuli river on Tuesday evening, but here goes again. Fingers crossed.
I have not posted too many updates since arriving in Nepal, and I feel guilty about that, because my blog’s whole purpose was to act as a news feed to my friends and family.
Truth is though that I am finding it hard to narrate the colourful experiences I have had on a daily basis since arriving. This is possibly because of the plethora of revelations and questions this trip to Nepal has raised in me, that seem so much bigger than the beautiful details of my days.
I wonder about so many things. I wonder how the East got so far removed from the West. I wonder how a whole world can turn a comfortable blind eye to the huge disparity that exists in this separation. I wonder at Divine connections and Divine timing. I wonder how I have not yet tired of dal bhat, cold showers and squat toilets. I wonder how and when the measure of success in the Western world became so closely linked to material wealth. I wonder at how spiritually elevated the Nepali people seem to me. I wonder at the human spirit, and just how much it can endure. I wonder about my future, and where my passion and purpose will meet.
Heavy stuff, granted.
But, despite my borderline inner-Virgo desperately wanting to arrange these questions and their as-yet-unknown answers in neat columns, I have not been this happy and at peace in a very long time. And it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly.
Six days a week we get up at the crack of dawn, gather our tools and walk through the villages to our work sites. We rubble, shovel, throw rocks, break down walls and slowly but surely help people clear their land in order to rebuild their lives. I have been lucky to be on two sites that we finished since being here. The beneficiaries spoil us with literally all they have. They invite us into their modest homes for lunch, they give us the sweetest milk tea, they provide us with their own pillows when we sleep off our rice-comas, and they get involved with the bittersweet task of breaking down for new beginnings. They work with us, laugh with and at us, and I am sure they wonder at us as much as I am fascinated by them.
The local community has embraced our loud gang of westerners with open arms. Maya’s has the only wifi connection in town so naturally she draws a good crowd. Sanu, at the other edge of town, does washing for us and has a pancake breakfast menu on Saturday’s for our benefit. There are fantastic Momo’s to be had at “the place on the left”, while “the place on the right” serves a chow mein that is second to none. Our landlord, Krishna, has opened a little shop next to base where we can buy beers, chocolates and a few other bits. Everywhere we go, the kids run at us with an enthusiastic “Namaste, what is your nâââââme?”, and of course a universal high five.
There has been only one incident where I have felt slightly scared and vulnerable. Five of us girls had a great need (using the word “need” lightly here) for pizza a couple of weeks ago. We set off on what would be a 45 minute hike, including a very steep set of zig zag stairs at the end, in order to reach the only place remotely nearby where we could find pizza. Arriving rather ravenous, we were told that there was no cheese, so pizza was not an option. Unless of course we wanted to take the owner up on the offer of making us pizza with butter (?) instead. We were feeling less than adventurous by this point and opted for burgers. Oh wait, no buns, because the bun factory is not open on Saturdays. Fail of a dinner really, and we ended up having standard Nepali food which we could have done locally had we known. After dinner we got our headlamps ready and started to head back down the steep drop of dark, rocky steps winding back into town. Out of nowhere, some fist sized rocks started flying at us from above. Our screams to stop had no effect, and we had no choice but to start running down, all the while trying to cover our heads and not trip over loose stones. This experience made us feel anxious and exposed, but I am convinced that it was purely youngsters trying to scare us, not for one second realising the potential danger of these flying rocks. The bottom line is, I have not experienced anything other than love, kindness, generosity and friendship since arriving. I am in awe of the Nepali people.
I have been here a month today, and while on the one hand it has flown by, I feel as though I have been here forever. In a good way. I am yet again having a chance to evaluate what really matters in this life, and I am yet again coming to the conclusion that kindness is indeed what makes my world go round. I am getting so much from this experience and I feel ashamed about the naive arrogance of my ways in the past. I feel humbled by all I have seen so far and cannot wait for the rest to unfold.