Eventually, after more than two months, we are saying goodbye to Nepal. Oh Nepal, how amazing you’ve been. After the huge cultural shock on arrival we wouldn’t have thought to have fallen in love with this country. Nepal has rooted deeply into our hearts by now. Why, that’s hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot.
Kathmandu’s charme is one that many of you will never understand. Even we had difficulty trying to find it. The busy, crowded city is full of honking cars, buses that almost run you over, scooters with small children wearing no helmets and gives you a weekly pneumonia because of all the dust it’s hard, so it’s hard to see though it all. When trying to escape from it all in Kathmandu’s tourist centre Thamel, you’d get harassed by anxious salesmen of overpriced tours or worthless souvenirs and riksja and cab drivers. Even though this city has been our base for our entire trip in Nepal and we’ve made a lot of quality memories here. Saying goobye to Nepal was incredibly hard.
The Nepalese family from Nagarjun Homestay that hosted us all the time we were in Kathmandu has been a great part in this. It might be a little more pricy than a crowded, dirty Thamel hostel but it will give you a home in Nepal for the rest of your life. We can’t express our gratitude towards this family for adopting us into their family. Because of them we’ve been able to schedule our time in Nepal fully according to our wishes and we always had a home to come back to. This was very much appreciated, especially after the hard Everest Basecamp Trek and Vipassana course. When we ended up in the hospital after our trek, they even came to visit with a fruit basket! If that doesn’t warm your heart I don’t know what would.
Nepal was also the best place to get our perspective on money and work straightened up. In Nepal there are still many cultures where it’s not all about the money. You would have to leave the city to experience this, because Kathmandu is absolutely a place of making money off tourism. But if you wander off into the mountains and meet people in small mountain villages, you’ll see soon enough that it’s not impossible to live without even having left your home town ever in your whole life. I know travelling is a privilege, and I’m so thankful that we are able to do it, but to see these people in such a small village being totally happy with absolutely nothing, it’s just amazing. We grew up in a society that’s built on making money. It’s all about work, work, work, but you would be surprised to find out how many of our friends and family don’t even spend all that money. They live to work, but they forget to live at all! People in Nepal are just busy minding their own business. They don’t have a lot of money, but they don’t need much either. There’s still trading and self-sufficiency here, so they occasionally trade their self grown lettuce for some rice from their neighbour. Life doesn’t cost much either. People wash themselves in the river nearby, and also use this water to cook, do the dishes and wash their clothes. They cook on wood that they find in the surrounding area. People spend their time on their family, while providing for them at the same time. Doesn’t that appeal to you? No smart phones, tv or internet, but good old fashioned human interaction. Kids are challenged to be creative and invent their own games with mud marbles or a piece of rope. And when a tourist passes by they are genuine happy to see you. Enthousiasticly they wave at every person passing by, hoping for someone to wave back at them. These kids were the sunshine in our day, every day we were on Everest. We wouldn’t have made it all the way to basecamp without them.
Of course a little bit of comfort and luxury is quite pleasant and I would never trade with, for example, sanitary services, but it does make you think. Seeing how these people live put you right back into place. Do you ever realise how lucky we are to be born in such priviliges, western countries? Probably not… But how can you possibly enjoy life if you don’t? Please try to work to live, and not the other way around. Stop asking us why we have to “go on a holiday again”. This is our life, this is what we do to keep our heads clear in this polluted society we live in. How wonderful would it be if more people start living this way, or at least start understanding our way of life. Don’t judge us for not being mainstream. Judge yourself for following the masses.
Anyway, this blog has turned into a whole other direction than I was going for, haha! What I especially like about Nepal are the huge differences with the Western world. The children that want to take pictures with you and hold your hand, it’s just adorable. You notice the Tibetan influence anywhere in Nepal. And how amazing is their Buddhist belief and philosophy. Treat all beings with respect, leave every one at peace, don’t kill any animal, how small it may be and live a simple life. But above all, abstain from violence, both physical and emotional. Aren’t these the values in life that everyone desires? Oh and I shouldn’t forget selflessness. There’s no bragging in Buddhism because it’s irrelevant what you own or what function you have. EVERY BEING IS EQUAL. You worry about something, or something terrible has happined? Just hang your Tibetan flags outside and the wind will take them all away. There’s no guarantee that this works, but it sure is better than holding on to anger and frustration all the time.
Our Vipassana course really has opened our eyes for the qualities of Buddhism and hopefully we bring home a ‘vibe’ that also inspires others to give this unique way of meditation a shot. Love and compassion for all beings, that’s the goal. In my opinion the only goal a religion should ever have. Somewhere we’ve lost the path by trying to convert people to our religion, or by sketching other religions as heretics. The essence of any religion has never changed though. It’s only been lost, out of sight. Love and compassion, that’s the one thing all religions have in common and in fact it’s all we really need. Blind faith or following a religion without knowing about their ground principles, that’s something we should banish forever. That’s what produces radicals who nowadays spread so much hate and fear into the world. They make us point fingers to other religious groups again and put people in boxes (figure of speech of course). Didn’t we try that before? World war first and second. We all know how that ended… I hope we’ve learned something from those major events in human history, so history won’t repeat itself. Change starts with yourself. You control this. You as an individual. Please remember that and try live your life the good way, treating others with love and compassion.
Besides a cultural experience our visit to Nepal also has been a spiritual experience. Nothing weird or superstitious, but just gaining insight in humanity, how the world works and especially what we’re made of ourselves. Because how can you ever change yourself it you don’t even know what you’re made of.
We’re very curious about your thoughts on this blog, so please don’t hesitate to let us know!