So many things we’ll miss

by Annalise on February 11, 2010

As we move into our last few weeks here, we start to see Kathmandu and all of Nepal through a new lens; this one noting all the things we’ll so miss. There is of course many things that are difficult about being here but so so many graces.

Our neighborhood is this noisy close cluster of concrete houses but it has also become a place with familiar faces. Whether in conversations we’ve enjoyed getting to know our neighbors or just the call of ‘Namaste’ from roof deck to roof deck as we hang out laundry, we feel a part of this place. When Robin practices his pipes up there, he has a loyal following that watch from the nearby roof decks and often some grandfathers bring their grandchildren nearer at the street level to listen and get a glimpse of the piper. And while the house next door continues under construction, the workers there all sit and listen for a break when Robin plays. It is a strange collection of an audience but it is certainly welcoming and friendly.

I’ll miss jumping on my bicycle to the schools, the near-by bakery or the small shops for the things we need. I may even miss the challenge and game of cycling in the traffic here or maybe I’m feeling that way today because I didn’t have to yell at any cabbies when they’ve tried to cut me off. I get to feel pretty quick here too. A good pace on a single speed bicycle can keep up with vehicular traffic on most streets, they’re that congested. And it feels great to be passing those smoke bellowing busses and cabs… stinky but righteous.

The site of the Himalayas on the horizon when the sky is clear never stops being a glorious surprise and it reminds me of the stunning landscape with terraced fields and rugged hillsides throughout this country even if it isn’t always the case here in Kathmandu. But even here we have the richness of colours seen in the saris and traditional outfits of the women and in the decorations of the temples and even vehicles on the streets. Here, dressing and decorating in the colour of flower blossoms is sure to bring blessings in your day.

I also realized today how I’ll miss some of the most common attributes we’ve seen of the Nepalese. Certainly not the spitting but the open friendliness, the ready humor and the expressiveness and musicality. No conversation is done by voice alone, the head and hands are always moving to add emphasis and make the point. Such great animation that even if you don’t catch much of the language, there is no mistaking what is being said. And, everyone sings and dances here. Granted the songs are a bit Bollywood but you can’t help but enjoy it when everyone just so readily joins in! The lack of self-consciousness is refreshing.

And certainly, we’ll miss the friends we’ve made here. There’s Anzu, our first Nepalese friend with whom we celebrated her daughter’s 4th birthday and her gregarious extended family who we’ve come to know. There’s our hosts and all of the folks I have had the pleasure of working with at my two schools. We’ll miss the language and context lessons provided by the lovely and wise Gayatri; she may be small in stature but is huge in character. Also, the international group who gather weekly to run the often grueling but much enjoyed Hash House Harrier run. Of note, there is Christian, a fellow Canadian and Emmy award winner for his writing on Sesame Street years ago. He’s here helping to write the Constitution… truly. There’s an American in his mid thirties who’s been here since he finished College in the States, having first arrived to volunteer at an orphanage. He stayed on, has since married a Nepali woman and together they’ve adopted several of the orphans themselves as well as having one of their own. There is David Potter, a Scottish architect who arrived in Nepal almost 30 years ago on a VSO project and also stayed, eventually marrying Dhurgha and raising a couple of kids here. There’s Anna, the quiet young Australian who is here for one year under the Australian Youth Ambassador program, working as a nutritionist and doing research on Nepalese maternal health. And Jimi, one of the several energetic Dutchmen working for their NGOs as they explore Nepal and each try to make a difference.

Robin reminds me that he’ll miss eating at any of the nearby restaurants which provide some variety to our otherwise pretty simple diet. There is Jilan Jilan, the Lazy Gringo (a Mexican food place – really!), the BBQ at the Summit Hotel and the Nepalese treats at Angan. These are all at a very low cost too so I’m sure Dave would agree they’ll be missed.

Mostly though there is a simplicity to our lives here. We have little in the way of conveniences or stuff but we’ve been exposed to a culture and way of life quite apart from our own. And we’ve spent a great deal more time within our own little family, finding we like that very much! Now we just have to make sure we don’t leave all of these gifts behind.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie February 12, 2010 at 4:20 am

I know what you mean about the things you’ll miss. And I’ve only been there for a while… But I do love my indoor heating! Only a few weeks before you arive here, time flighs. Enjoy your last few weeks and let me know when I should fill my (too small) fridge!


Shirley February 14, 2010 at 1:15 am

Very well said Annalise. Brought back many memories for me.

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