4 May: Pokhara, Nepal

This blog is reflections on Pokhara since I have been here. I have been walking down at lakeside and connected to the Kashmiri guys, Selman is one of the guys and he has taken a shine to me. I bought a nice Nepalese top that had embroidery on it. He liked it. He suggested he could help me get Nepalese prices. So the next day I met him at his shop. The owner (his brother in law) took over and he took me by taxi to a market where the Nepali people go. It was a lot of small shops. He was able to negotiate some shoes for me for 300 rupees and suggested he could get it down to 250. I said 300 is fine ($3.00).

He then took me to a clothes shop and I selected material. It was a lovely red material with green and purple flowers and trim. He then led me to a sewing shop with two seamstresses. They took the fabric and did measurements. They said they could make it by tomorrow morning. Selman and I walked and talked and I laughed at the traffic. It is so busy you simply walk across and people make way for you. He had to get his watch fixed and I was amazed at the craftsman who was tuning his watch. He had a watch with hands and a winder. So what I was seeing was a watchmaker craftsman who was adjusting the moving pieces in the watch. He certainly knew what he was doing. It only cost 100 rupees ($1.00), he spent 20 minutes doing it. Selman then arranged for a taxi and he chatted to the driver. I’ve got some footage of him on you tube and film of the streets of Pokhara.

We went back to his shop and I told him I needed to go. It was getting late. He is a nice bloke. We’ve had some really interesting conversations about the world and his situation with his wife in Kashmir and him here. The situation with money separates a lot of people and it is not easy when you think your future is tied to money. Thankfully I’ve not thought that way and there have been times when I couldn’t afford noodles. So I do know the feeling of not having much and needing to watch money, however, I seem to trust life more these days and it has helped me remain positive. I do trust life supports us and it is has been my experience, I’ve tested the limits without money and something comes. My friend has just shone me that government debt in Australia is 33% of GDP, I consider that high, however as I just mentioned to my friend here, we need to learn efficiency. So it is not so much the debt it is the waste of money that goes into projects that don’t happen or investing into projects that are not a priority.

My other colleagues went to interview some retired principals and check out some schools. They also visited the Tibetan refugee camp. I am concerned that the camps are tourist traps as I would rather the cultural exchange. I accept people may be more disadvantaged given the persecution of Tibetans but I don’t want to be a tourist in their presence, I’d rather visit as a friend. I am for compassion and understanding as espoused by the Dalai Lama, I don’t want a smiling Tibetan seemingly like a friend but really wanting me to spend on products that are expensive by Nepalese standards. It is a tension I feel. I do like to help people but when I feel to do it, not to be manipulated in to it. People learn to exploit others, it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, exploitation in my worldview is not love and friendship, what I am interested is expanding the latter. So I felt okay about not going. I’d rather visit a camp that tourists don’t go to and meet some people, perhaps offering some clowning to bring joy and connection. That is really more my thing. I don’t have much money anyway, so I can’t support them in that way.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong”

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