WHERE : Kot Village, Nepal WHEN : Mid-June 2016 OBJECTIVE : Weddings, Lakh Batti, Visit Family & Friends DISTANCE : NA CLASSIFICATION : Walks, Words
After a couple of months spent lost in the frightening wilderness of photo editing and website design (for the new, improved transglobalist.com), I was longing for a change in my routine. My life had become every bit as predictable as my old nine-to-five, which sounds funny coming from a guy living in Nepal. But there you have it. When I looked up one day and realized the Himalayan views and Phewa sunsets had become wallpaper, it was time to get up from the desk and walk around a bit.
Fortunately a friend was visiting Nepal at the same time. His original plan–getting rated as a paraglider pilot–had been thwarted by Pokhara’s–let’s call it lively–behind-the-scenes paragliding politics and posturing. He needed a Plan B, and I needed to GTFO for a couple of weeks. Why not convince him to follow me into the jungles of Bhojpur for a short visit?
Even the thirty-hour bus rides to and from our starting point were wild adventures for the uninitiated: deep mud on narrow, twisting roads with steep drop-offs, landslides, riding atop jam-packed vehicles with happily drunken locals, dodging trees and power lines and vomiting passengers. That sort of thing.
And yet we arrived unscathed in Kot Village, our ten days perfectly timed. There were two weddings and one ceremony of mourning–a seven-day event held six months after a loved-one’s death. We were included in these festivities–invited by, and held for, people who were now my friends.
This fact often sneaks up on me, delivering an emotional sucker-punch to the gut. Two members of my immediate Nepali family have passed away since my first visit three and a half years ago (the grandparents mentioned below). Young children are now young adults. Now a cousin was getting married, and a friend’s husband’s brother. My status has moved beyond guest of honor to family member, and I get to hear the gossip and drama and complaints that would be impolite to share with an outsider.
Near the end of my stay a young woman in my immediate family approached me. “I want to show you something,” she said, taking me into her small room. She pointed at the wall. I had never been invited into this space before, and what she showed me was a typical teenager’s wall, plastered with memories. Her’s were dominated by photographs from the last four years, almost all of them–to my great surprise–taken by me. She pointed out each in turn, and thanked me for them–especially those of her grandparents, both of whom have died since my first visit. I was stunned.
I returned quietly to my room and wept like a damned baby.
June 25, 2016
One of the many regulars in Kot Village who have befriended me over the years. Seeing these images is always startling. On one hand, the subject matter screams “EXOTIC! NAT GEO!”; on the other, I know these people personally. Not just “Oh. Hey. How are you today?” Rather, I am invited into their homes, know their names and stories, and have shared their lives for several years now. It’s humbling and inspiring.