Good Bye Nepal….until we meet again.
I’m sitting in the departure lounge at the Kathmandu airport as I write this. We’re saying goodbye to Nepal with our hearts full of Nepalese Love. Our time here was short but oh so full. I’m only now just beginning to integrate everything we saw, learned and experienced. This tiny country is deep in history, culture and spirit.
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day. We leisurely enjoyed breakfast in the garden as we had nothing scheduled until 2:00 PM. Over breakfast an Australian man struck up conversation. Our hotel hosts guests from all over the world, many who are stopping briefly before or after trekking adventures in the Himalayas. JK – our new Australian friend – was enjoying a few days of rest between two such treks. As it happens, he is a guide himself who has trekked many great mountains around the world, including Canada’s Denali in British Columbia. He delighted us with stories of treacherous climbs with close calls and disastrous endings. While we admired his love of pushing the limits, we were in no way inspired to do it ourselves. Hours of taking 3 or 4 breaths just to take the next step up the mountain is not our idea of fun. Even he had to admit that while doing these climbs he asks himself why. Only once it’s done can he fully appreciate the experienc
After wishing one another a great day – with promises to talk again – Emma and I headed out to do the last of our shopping. I’ve developed a deep interest in sound meditation over the years, so we stopped into one of the many singing bowl shops in our neighborhood. Serendipitously we chose the right shop. The owner was not only a serious meditation practitioner, but an excellent teacher with a passion to share his knowledge. He took us through a journey of the chakras, they’re energetic qualities and how each of us are born with a unique chakra strength, that is meant to be cultivated, nurtured and shared with the universe. He explained the differences between the quality of the different bowls and the sound they emit.
His son managed the shop with him and humbly responded to each of his father’s requests. It struck me that this man would not likely get the same respect and reverence in the west, as his passion for old knowledge would be considered unimportant in today’s world. Reminders to pay more respect to our ancestors who are alive or have passed, are everywhere here. My own teacher Yogrishi Vishvketu teaches the same thing.
The rest of our morning was spent visiting shops, chatting with their owners and having lunch at our favorite Green Organic café. We ended the afternoon with a massage for Emma, foot treatment for me, and henna tattoos.
The day before we were taken on an 8 hour tour by our guide Kishor, of areas in and around Kathmandu. Our first stop was a massive Buddhist Temple hidden beyond the busy streets and down a cobbled alley. I gasped when I saw the white imposing structure, of the Boudhanath. Once in the square, we were welcomed by quiet, gentle energy from generations of devotee’s practice. I could have stayed all day, but it was time to move on to the next stop on our agenda.
Kishor next took us to Pasgupatinath, the largest Hindu Temple in Kathmandu. This also where traditional Hindu cremations are done. This is considered the most auspicious way to say goodbye to departed loved ones. The Hindus believe that living an incarnated life is intended to burn off old Karmas, or negative energies. Freeing the soul of the burden of the physical body offers a better chance of eternal freedom. The body is draped in saffron robes, washed with water from the river, showered with marigold flowers as the family says their goodbyes. It is then brought to the funeral pyre, lit on fire and the cremation begins while the loved ones hold vigil. Once all has become ash, they are placed in the river to make their journey to the mighty Ganges in India.
The rest of the day we visited several other village Durbar (court of an Indian ruler) squares with ancient temples. Many still in shambles after the 2015 earthquake, others in varying stages of reconstruction and some that are somehow still standing in spite of severe structural damage. Kishor tells us that earthquakes typically happen about every 80 years which gave us some comfort that we were safe. Some comfort.
Reparations and rebuilding from the 2015 earthquake are slow to happen. We’ve been told by several Nepalese residence that the government is corrupt and sadly little of the money donated for rebuilds has been directed to efforts.
Life is hard in Nepal. The level of poverty exceeds India. And yet, there’s a gentleness and sense of pride that has left an indelible mark on my heart. I feel lucky have been able to visit and hope to again someday.
As a final gift from dear Nepal, I had a clear view of the Himalayas on my flight back to India – including Everest’s majestic peaks soaring through the clouds.
Nepal – I have fallen hard for you.