Summer in Nepal Part 1

After about a thirty hour journey, I arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport at Kathmandu, Nepal.  This was my first time in a foreign country in about five years and was welcomed by the organized chaos of Nepalis going about their business at the airport.  I was being picked up by Eve Dimagno, one of 85 Degrees East’s program directors and we took a taxi ride to my apartment.  Now, I’m from Miami so I’m fairly used to some dodgy driving, but never have a seen such maneuvers come from literally everyone on the street. It didn’t matter whether you were on foot, biking, or driving–the road was open game.  On the ride Eve welcomed me to Nepal and began walking me through the plan for the next couple of days and also talking about the culture of Nepal and its people.  Eve explained that Nepali people are very relaxed and are very friendly towards expats and tourists.  This was apparent when regular conflicts that would have resulted in heated screaming matches in the U.S. were wordlessly resolved calmly and efficiently.  For example, on a one lane road a car and two motor bikes almost rammed into each other when turning a corner, but instead of an angry outburst the men on motor bikes calmly backed up into a driveway and let the car pass.  Not a single honk of the horn was heard (honking your horn is actually illegal), or an insult thrown.  Just calm conflict resolution.

Later that evening, Eve took me to see the Bauddha Stupa (pictured above) with some of her friends and I got insights on some Nepali traditions like walking around the Stupa seven times was supposed to bring good luck. I got to witness a heavily Buddhist influenced form of worship performed by the Nepalis which included walking around the Stupa in prayer periodically taking a few steps then prostrating completely.  There was a surreal, uplifting atmosphere that drove away my jet lag that came from the being there and walking around the Stupa and basking in its presence.  We then enjoyed a wonderful dinner on one of the rooftop cafes by the Stupa where the views of the Stupa, the sunset, and the distant mountains all met to form a perfect closure to my first day in Nepal.

The second day, Eve believed that getting lost in Nepal was part of the experience so she let me loose in the heart of the Kathmandu shopping district.  Now as a Filipino guy with a somewhat stern walking face, a lot of Nepalis thought I was also Nepali and did not treat me as a tourist. It was only after I exchanged my money and when I spoke that I revealed my true identity.  It was nice actually, after meeting up with Eve and Nimesh (The two co-program directors) many shop owners and locals thought I was Nepali like Nimesh.  So a confident stride, keeping my mouth shut, and letting Nimesh do the talking definitely had its benefits.

All in all, it has been a wonderful arrival in Nepal. It has an unbelievably welcoming atmosphere filled with friendly, relaxed people.  I am very excited to be living and working here for the next two and a half months.