I am in Pokhara right now, a lazy town in west-central Nepal, chock full of tourists going to and from trekking in the Annapurna Region. Though I have been here before, it is nonetheless a gorgeous little city with a vibe that just makes you want to sit and stare at the Himalayas. On the ride from Bharatpur, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Chitwan resident Shree Ram Subadi. He was a jolly fellow, with pretty darn good English and an affinity for Hindi music (he patted the beat on his armrest of several of the songs on the radio, and would turn to me and say, “This is a beautiful song, yes?” and though to me they all sound pretty much the same, I could do nothing other than answer in the affirmative). I learned pretty much everything that Shree Ram is up to these days, including where his kids and his grandkids live and what they are doing with their lives, while he learned a chunk about mine through a kindly barrage of questioning. We shared biscuits and my fried chicken morsels (that Laxmi so kindly made at 9am this morning, so that I could have a snack and not have to pay big bucks for tourist food), and he looked at all 400 pictures of the kids that are on my digital camera. Though he does not have email, he asked for mine (as I do not have a mobile phone) and said he would sign up for email this week so that he could keep in touch.
It was this instance that made me appreciate the kindness and sense of humor that almost all Nepalis have, that sometimes is lacking in other places I have traveled. Perhaps it isn’t a lack of humor in other countries, but a dissimilar sense from my own. Nepalis, however, are keen for two of my favorite types: physical humor, and sarcastic joking. For instance, when Shree Ram asked where I was from, I said, “America, where are you from?” This absolutely cracked him up. And so we became friends. It was a nice contrast to another bus mate, a German girl about my age, who I was excited to see get on in Narangargh (town next to Bharatpur), but had my inhibitions about when I saw she was wearing pearls, lots of makeup, and a fancy silver watch. I don’t judge by appearances, but when you’re getting on a bus in dusty, hot Narangargh, where you stick out like a sore thumb no matter what- hold the accessories. She was nice enough though, and we had pleasant conversation, until I hit some button that released all negative energy about Nepal that she has had for the past two months of her trip. In a struggle to come up for air, I realized that there was no going back for this girl, and though she said there were good “moments” of her trip, it seems like the trip, and perhaps her life, are overshadowed by negativity about something or another. Or maybe she’s just a perfectionist German. Who knows?
Either way, I made it to Pokhara, and I’m sitting in my cozy little room at the Peace Eye Guest House, which is kitschly (not in the usual Nepali way, but a tasteful kitsch) adorned with Ganesh wood carvings, colorful duvets, and Nepali tapestries. My keychain even has the Virgin Mary on it! For $5.50 a night, this is the place to crash for a few days. I have my ideas for what I’m going to do here… but I have to wait on the weather and see how it pans out before solidifying anything. Today’s air was dreadfully stagnant when I arrived, with an impenetrable smog-haze enveloping even the closest mountains. As the afternoon moved along though, a rainstorm came in and created some picturesque breaks in the cloud cover that revealed only bits of the massive Annapurnas. I forgot how insanely big these mountains are. They are incredible.
I definitely want to do a lot of writing while here, as I have been keeping a thorough journal (the first in my life! I am so proud of myself!) since I arrived. There is a lot about the orphan home that I needed a solid block of time to write about, and now is as good as any. So look forward to some reading material, all you blog followers! If there are any of you out there…