After the first 24 hours in Kathmandu, I was sure of one thing. I would be staying here longer than the ten days originally planned. Being back at the “Suwal Mansion” and reconnecting with people who had been so far away, but were now so close and welcoming made this choice an easy one. One morning, Swayambhu brought out his guitar and wanted to play a few songs. We were both a little more than hungover, and I honestly just wanted to sip my tea. Once I heard him playing though… I was absolutely astounded. Here is what we recorded on that morning. If you pay close attention, you can see me getting rather emotional in the reflection of the window. This kid can play!
Awakening to warm tea and smiles became a routine I easily fell into. And the hecitic day to day pace of Kathmandu was easily thwarted with escapes to Barat’s shop in Thamel. Even though Thamel is a bustling tourist/backpacker area, Barat’s shop was tucked away in a quiet arcade square, and provided a perfect respite.
During the day Swayambhu and I would sip tea, while debating whether tonight would be a Whiskey night or a Beer night. The days slowly drifted by in the way they only can when one is at peace with their surroundings. On the quieter evenings we would head up to Swayambhu temple (For which my brother received his name) in the hills over Kathmandu. Barat is one of the major benefactors of this ancient temple, and was responsible for overseeing much of the renovation in the past years.
Not only has Barat named his son after this beautiful Temple, but he has been arriving every evening without fail for the past 8 years to play devotional Buddhist music with his group of friends . Barat plays the Tambla drums. Sitting and listening to their otherworldly rhythms while observing the slow pace of the Kora (circumambulation of the temple) was simultaneously invigorating and meditative.
The slow moving days sped, as they often do, as the end of my visit grew nearer. I was delighted when Carrie, the lovely Chinese girl I had met in Pokhara contacted me and told me she was now in Kathmandu. She had been on my mind, and apparently I on hers. She asked if I knew a nice place to meet in Kathmandu…
The next few days were a mix of happiness and the sad realization that I was leaving, and Carrie would be headed back to her small hometown in China soon. Anyone who has done a fair amount of traveling will surely become familiar with the inherently shortlived relationships which develop. I knew that I would soon be parting ways with the city i loved, and the girl i was only getting to know.
There was one thing I needed to do before I left Kathmandu, and that was to arrange a recconnection with the “kids”, now all adults, who my mom had sponsored since they were young refugees from Tibet. I had spent much time with Pasang, Dawa, and Dawa Lhamo when I was living in Kathmandu around 2002. We had been relatively out of touch since then, aside from the occasional facebook like. I was amazed to hear Pasang’s voice on the phone, as last time we had seen each other, she was quite shy and rarely spoke. Now she was a nurse, taking a respite from the rigors of New Delhi to volunteer her time and skills to assist her kinfolk of Nubri, Tibet, at a hospital on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We all met for dinner, the eight of us quickly bridged the temporal, geographical, and least of all to my surprise, linguistic bridges that had separated us for so long. Smiles, stories, and rememberences were shared. Most of these stories and rememberences centered around my Mom, and her all encompassing love, which we all agreed had brought us to this table tonight. To see the true gratitude and happiness which she has introduced into our lives made us all smile contentedly. “Auntie Janet” was crowned the hero of the night.
We all left, full of both food and love. I have no idea why or how I am blessed to know such compassionate and happy people. I only know that when one has the chance to be surrounded by such a group, the opportunity to enjoy it should not go unheeded. I think the smile on my face says it all. While this was not my last night in Kathmandu, it was by far the most important and uplifting. My love for this place and the people that send that love back will outlast any struggles and difficulties I might face. Kathmandu will always be home in my heart.