Step 1. Go to an east coast, private liberal arts school with a large body of international students.
Step 2. Befriend a nice guy from Nepal.
Step 3. Move to Thailand and plan to stalk said friend from Nepal “while in the same hemisphere.”
Step 4. Show up in Kathmandu with no plans.
Step 5. Get escorted ’round the city and the country with little to no effort exerted on your part because your hosts are so awesome.
As you can see, I have absolutely no practical advice for travelers to Nepal. Some girls in my hostel asked, and I had nothing. Nothing at all.
I can’t imagine what my Nepal experience would have been like without the intensely gracious hospitality of the Pande family. We were fed very well, with my friend Paulie refusing, flat-out refusing, all of my requests to pick up the check at shared dinners in restaurants. I was able to snatch a couple through pure wiliness, but it wasn’t easy. I am now carrying around a great deal of generosity debt that will have to be passed on to others.
Our short trip was packed to the brim with activities that exposed us to ancient Nepalese culture through temples both Buddhist and Hindu and behind-the-scenes Durbar Squares with well-curated museums. We also got a strong introduction to modern Nepalese life through late nights spent in cafés with friends and invitations to family parties. In fact, my biggest take away from our trip was that all Nepalese people are as awesome as Paulie. Everyone seemed to have a generous streak and a great sense of humor. Everyone likes to hang out, despite the 6-day work week.
For instance, normally when anyone asks about the tattoo on Andy’s hand, he will respond, “it’s from Twilight.” In the states, this is often results in a cold-shoulder snub or a gleeful hug, depending on what one’s opinion of Twilight is. In Nepal? Every audience got the joke and laughed immediately.
At the family gathering, we got a primer on some Hindu idiosyncrasies from Paul’s uncle, who let us know all about the old process of rubbing down one’s floors with cow dung and sprinkling oneself with cow urine to purify a space. Everyone laughed. Especially when considering what the Europeans must have thought.
How I would sum up Nepal? Everyone laughed a lot.
It was good.
Pictures, from top to bottom: 1) Prayer flags from Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, 2) the view from the architect-in-residence’s apartment in Patan Durbar Square, 3) a little girl feeding pigeons at Kathmandu Durbar Square with kohl on her eyes to protect her from jealousy, 4) a woman in a beautiful sari, one out of many, 5) a rickshaw driver.
Hi! I'm Susan, and this is my travel journal. You can read more about me here.
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