Nepal Journey – Trip 1, Day 1
November 3, 2013
Part I- I am challenged to summarize the first day in Kathmandu. We spent the morning on the banks of the Bagmati River, at Pashupatinath-the most important Hindu Temple in Nepal: a Unesco and holy site where open air cremations happen all day-several at a time. The cremations happen on pedestals along the river-the higher up the river, the higher the societal status of the deceased.
The deceased families are a large part of thisprocess-from preparation to lighting the body. At the end of the ceremony the ashes are scattered in the river, the eldest son declothes and throws his clothes into the river and shaves his head. He then puts on new clothes to symbolize the beginning of a year of mourning-hear wears those clothes for an entire year. To sit on the banks of the river and witness this very real ending of our life cycle here on earth was unsettling yet peaceful. The entire site was marked with sage temples and several spiritual blessing offerings. It was raw and deep with consideration and contemplation. Embracing this culture and reflecting on our own. Moving.
Part II – From there we we invited to IWENs main home in Kathmandu – Kushi Ghar. It is an orphanage of 20 children, as young as 7. They were excited to welcome us and we spent the first half hour decorating their driveway in honour of the Festival of Lights -Tihar – goddess of wealth. They toured us through their home, they danced for us -and we danced with them. They sang. They were endless with questions and excited to play with our cameras. The house mom (auntie) made us a festive lunch. The experience was rich. The love and brotherhood and sisterhood amongst the children is mature and moving – some have been together there for many years. Such a warm and beautiful home. Note: our tour guide for today was an orphan from the home-a shy 18 year old who lost his entire family to a landslide in rural Nepal when he was a toddler. He’s shy, yet spoke very good English. He’s studying to be a hotel manager (how ironic!) he negotiated everything for us and spent the day telling us about everyday life. What a blessing to have spent this day with him.
Part III – Throughout the remainder of the day he took us on some white knuckle cab rides throughout the city, saw some spectacular views and witnessed day to day life in a chaotic setting. Cows in the streets -laying there. Cows are sacred here and traffic flows around them and goats and pedestrians and pot holes and trash and motorcycles and congestion like I’ve never imagined. In the evening we strolled over to the Thamel District with streets as wide as 2 cars- with thousands of people, bikes, scooters and storefronts. The cars manoeuvre at a snails pace, bumpers are literally at your ass. Move your feet because I don’t doubt that several are ran over by the hour. Dinner was authentic Indian, (we all ate like queens and had a beer for less than a thousand rupees – less than $10 CAD)