5 May: Pokhara, Nepal

5 May

I’ve been unwell still and I find I wake up very tired. I am trying to make the most of resting here. So 10am is my preferred time to get up.

I caught up with Selman around 11am to see if my clothes were ready. He said the girl was coming. She came half an hour later. I tried on the clothes and the top was tight. Selman wasn’t happy but I said to the girl it is all fine. He went to see if he could get it altered. We had the opportunity to talk whilst Selman was away and I told her about Australia. I told her I was a clown and showed photos. It is amazing how much you can communicate by gesture. I felt she understood me. She told me she was married living with her mother and father, she had no children. I couldn’t talk about her work as she didn’t understand the words. However, we felt a connection and that was nice to share. When Selman came back it turned out that she or her co-worker left in the tacking cotton (holds fabric together whilst it is sewn) this cotton tacking made it seem tighter. Once that was realised she just unpicked the tacking cotton and it fit perfectly. I took my clothes and promised Selman I would wear it and show him another day.

I went for a walk and bumped into Peter, Pat and Gordon. They had been out and about shopping. On meeting the decision was made to go for lunch. So we went to the black and white cafe and had some food. I didn’t have enough to pay Peter as he has to go to the ATM. Pat covered us which was kind. They showed their purchases for grandchildren and daughters-in-law. I saw a map of Nepal and got a feel for where we had been at Ghara. I noted the long border with Tibet/China and India. I then looked at the mountains – Everest is around 8,800 metres. Kosciusko, the highest mountain in Australia is around 2,200 metres, so a huge difference. I would have loved to have seen Mount Everest up close but I have seen some tall mountains which took my breath away. I then decided to go for a walk.

I walked up the street keeping away from the shops as I know the way the shop keepers entice you in. I have very little to spend so will just walk and observe the people. I watched the cow and her calf cross the road. I silently observed the tourist and the dance of traders and tourists, so many shops. My eyes kept diverting to the mountains above, my true love is nature. I walked into a book shop and found some tea – lemon, Darjeeling and green. I bought these teas for friends. I purchased some Tibetan flags, all around 100 rupees each.

I then sat in a coffee shop reading and occasionally glancing up at the tourists. I am reading about love from a master. I know there are sceptics in the world that think life is just material, but in my experience we live in a dynamic world that is both of spiritual and material. I have no doubt we continue on after death. I undertook near death research with people who had experienced it, one was a sceptic and academic. It changed her worldview and life. I have no doubt we continue. What you learn from those who have had near death (died and come back) is that they do experience another world and they are met with those they know. They do hear voices or see colours. One said he was told he had to come back. Another told me she totally disconnected from her body and felt not desire to come back. She felt disconnection from children as well. Another told me he floated above the head on crash scene watching in a disconnected way as the ambulance came. He had massive head injuries three quarters of his brain exploded on impact in a head on collision. I’ve heard many stories and the people I spoke to didn’t tell anyone as they were afraid of being disbelieved. If I was to do this work again it would be a service for those who don’t feel heard. Anyway as a result I have no doubt we go on and indeed a spiritual world does exist. There is a higher intelligence, I’ve felt it and had my own experiences. So within that context, I am open to life and I see a role play here as I watch the tourists. I see the fear of those who believe this is all there is but in my heart I know we are here to learn love. So my work is to change myself and to deal with my own negativity and transform it into love. It is the work of world peace and it is the true goal of humanity – it doesn’t matter if your worldview is science or mysticism, at the end of the day we all appreciate being loved and loving, if it makes us softer and prepared to share, then it can do no harm. As a clown there is no baggage attached to play, no religion or magic, it is simply connecting with people as if they are my family. I love them as they are and it is my work to cultivate an acceptance of diversity and to allow people to be who they are without judging them. So I work on this every day and whenever I get time. Love for me is the answer to all of our dilemmas. My challenge is how to teach this without it seeming like fairy floss of something intangible? To help people see it is the greatest power and stability of life.

As I was sitting a dog came up and nestled its head into my leg. It was being affectionate. So I patted the head for ages and then it lay down and I kept on patting. The dog seemed to like foreigners. What is interesting about the dogs is that they are camp dogs, no-one owns them. You often see them roaming in Asia. They can be vicious and there are issues of rabies. Here in Pokhara in the tourist area it seems the dogs have realised that Westerners or foreigners like dogs. The dogs know so they come up for affection. I was interested in that psychology, how smart are dogs! I am inserting this in, a dog actually came up and put its paws around me, it was a hug! I’ve never been hugged by a dog.  So they like us, definitely.  I finished my tea and moved on. I decided to walk down a side street. I walked past little shops and places seeking to offer tourists adventure. I kept walking towards the water with my eyes on the mountain. I can feel relief as I move away from the commercialism. I thought to walk along the promenade. I saw a woman walking and discovered she was from Switzerland. She was travelling alone. I’ve noticed many travelling alone. She told me she found out a friend would be in Pokhara at the same time. So they hooked up and will hang out. A little girl came up to us and started to point to purple flowers. I noticed her clothes were dirty. Then I saw the parents coming up. In a subtle way they talked to us told us where they lived and then the asking for money came up. I can’t give to each person that asks, well I could, but does it serve them? Is the money the solution? So I told them I don’t have money, which is partly true, I certainly don’t have much. He said he needed money for medicine. I noted the wife was not skinny nor the child. However, I cannot judge them as I am not in their shoes. As always I examined myself for conscience. Should I give 50 rupees (50 cents) or leave it up to life to provide for them? There are plenty of tourists here. Are they telling the truth? Is it exploitation of tourists? In the end I decided it is best to trust my inner feeling, if I feel to give, then give, if not they are fine. I am not responsible personally for their situation and I cannot know the truth of it. I just know I don’t feel money is the answer. I prefer to give more meaningfully. Yet is it meaningful to get the next meal? We in the West often feel guilt as we know our profligate lives, yet what about the line of thought that if I give to them they experience more poverty believing that life has to give to them, they can’t create opportunities. I believe that we are powerful and that thought creates, there will be many hat will say ‘well what about the starving Africans? I understand that there are laws that work on the theory that what you believe you can create. Anyone in the positive psychology movement would attest to the power of positive thinking, not wishful thinking but really being positive. I see life as energy and I do think thought can create as is evident by anyone who has created an opportunity, object, lifestyle etc. They have imagined it first and then things have happened. So I am playing with this idea and if I am right, then even a poor person can create their life by expanding what they believe about themselves. In truth are they poor? What is poverty really? Mother Theresa once pointed out the spiritual poverty of the West, you can have all the money and still be unhappy or mean. I would like to play with that idea and if it does work then why not spend time helping people see their own power. That would be my preference. I consider that my way of giving. My only shortcoming here is I don’t speak Nepalese. So both of (Swiss girl and myself) us didn’t give money. We walked a bit further and the separated she went back the way she came and I walked up towards the touristy area. I kept walking and made my way back to the Pun hotel. I enjoyed the walk and space for reflection.

I came back to the hotel and I think we had dinner at the hotel. It was pouring with rain. We met a girl from the Netherlands. She told us she had come to do teaching in the local primary school. She contracted typhoid and was terribly sick. She said she couldn’t eat until recently and lost a lot of weight. She was looked after by local Nepalese thank goodness. I felt for her, as I was sick with a cold but not as bad as typhoid. She said she fainted in a shop the following week, so it has been full on for her. She felt no real loneliness, even whilst in hospital. She said she is thinking joyful thought as it has been her joy to come to Nepal and teach. Her partner is teaching in South America. I found that fascinating that young people chose to be apart to allow each other their dream, that must be love. She is 20 and she said she wanted to do it alone. She is independent. Her family were worried for her but it seems she is a pioneer for her family. Her mother has decided to travel and no doubt she is influencing her younger sister. I really admired her positive spirit and it just reinforced my faith in young people. Gordon kindly showed her photos of our trip which she looked through. We spoke of Nepal and the situation here and we all agree the people are very nice. The lights kept going on and off but the candles came out. It was fun, I like the unpredictability. Oh how we take power for granted in Australia. How there would be an outrage if the power went out even for a day. Imagine protests down Swanston Street, Melbourne. I like being here and remembering everything in life is a gift.

Peter organised us to go to the Rotary Club of Pokhara at 6pm. I wanted to go as I have skipped out of going to other clubs due to my not being well and up too early. Mostly it is being unwell that has made me stay resting. I really want this to pass. Anyway, it is all good this is a night time session.

So we wondered down the other side of Lakeside, which I hadn’t seen. I was wearing my new clothes and enjoying the loose feel of them and colours. We overshot the hotel and talked to some police who guided us back around 200 metres. Peter found the place and we wondered into a luxurious hotel. If you want the big dollars luxury is the way to go. Always within myself I wonder at the inequality. Why should a person without money not experience the finer things of life? Why should a wealthy person be treated as if more important? Questions I’ve never understood, for me I would feel guilty giving more to people with money. Yet I will soon start a business charge high prices, as is the industry norm, and it will be interesting to see how I feel about it. I am uneasy going into business given my philosophy; however I am open to new learning’s and who knows perhaps my peace work is heard in this type of forum. I am not in business for the money I am in business as I felt there were too many suicides in workplaces. There is real desperation there. I worked in 400 companies myself and I do know what it is like at the grass roots level, the powerlessness and increasing pressure. My hope is I can bring some sanity. I hope so.

Anyway we waited in the lobby and some Nepalese Rotarians came in and shook hands. I thought it may be a big meeting but it turned out to be only a few of them, they explained many were attending weddings. Weddings are big parties here and I assume they go for a few days.

We went downstairs and we had a former President introduce himself and asked us to. One by one we explained our names, what we do and where we are from. They introduced themselves. Then Peter spoke more about his project. This is a club that deal a lot with education so they are a good fit with his work. One of the Rotarians was a young banker who seemed to be a mover and shaker. I found it interesting the business culture and changing national culture. Another member owned the hotel we were in, another was a lawyer, and the other was a doctor. So we were with the wealthy of Pokhara. They were very polite and it was good to be there for a cross cultural experience and part of a organisation bigger than ourselves.

I thought a lot about Paul Harris the founder of Rotary and the very many rings of change his idea of Rotary created. With 35,000 clubs around the world now he certainly made a difference. Interestingly, he was originally a vagrant and wandered around staying with friends. In the end he became a lawyer in Chicago and he started a friendship group which became Rotary. There is elitism in this group but there are also genuine philanthropists and people who desire to really help others and give back. I guess there will always be such a tension given the notion of success. For me success is who you are as a person, it has nothing to do with materialism. I tend to look for values in people.

The banking gentleman indicated he was involved with Peace Scholars so my hope was he may show interest in the peace education. I haven’t seriously felt it could be implemented here as the interest is not expressed nor really understood. Many don’t know what I am doing and I am peaceful about it, the right time will come, I will keep plugging away. It will happen when it does. If interest is shown I would do a pilot and evaluate if they understand the concepts. I wrote it for a global market but it does need testing. It is a great program and it has been successful in Australia. But peace education is not well understood as foundational to all education, if you cannot educate for values and cooperation, then the other forms of education will not be handled with integrity. Critical thinking, values and positivity are essential to education and visualising a future free of violence and open to greater possibilities.

I had a chat with this gentleman after the meeting. He indicated the possibility of my speaking to a university. I can see Nepal as a country known for harmony as perhaps a good country to take it forward. I will be open. You never know. I am curious to see where REAL HOPE goes, I do believe in it.

We left the meeting and headed for dinner in a Chinese restaurant. There was a comedy of errors, tripping over, bringing out Pat’s food as a huge bowl, ordering twice with two different people. It had that feel about it. But I just laughed and thought of Faulty Towers with John Cleese. Apparently there was a guy in the UK who that series was designed from. He apparently denied it, but it makes you laugh thinking about it. I actually don’t mind errors I love them as they reveal our humanity. I don’t care for perfection as it is folly, no-one can do it perfectly and when we try we become incredibly difficult to work with, Standards is one way but perfection is a problem. I know in the bullying area perfectionists can be the one who bully others, as it is never good enough and they stay on their case.

I enjoyed my dinner as it had garlic and ginger, I am keen to feed this cold and disappear it. So I ate it up knowing it was doing me good. A young man did stand watching us, but not subtly like most waiters, he actually stood. He seemed to be fascinated by me and thought I was a great deal younger. I have to laugh at the attention I am getting, particularly from young males. He was chatting away, telling Gordon he was a lucky man. I told him that Pat and Peter were mum and dad and Gordon was my brother, I gave him a punch to prove the point. I don’t think he bought it but Pat feels I thoroughly confused him. He was keen for me to come back the next day. So hopefully I didn’t break a heart by not coming. I am sure he will get over me. What was interesting about this boy is that he left year 11 but was not going on, he chose to work. I wondered about his career prospects as he had no desire to continue on, but I guess he will stay in hospitality unless life has another plan. I would assume the money is not much. Some estimates I’ve heard from those who are doing okay are 16,000 rupees per month, very well is around 35,000 rupees ($160-$350 respectively). I would think if he was working full time, maybe 8,000 rupees a month ($80) given his age.

I heard that India has an influence on Nepal (80%) compared to other countries. I am assuming that is imports and Bollywood (not inclusive) but as an example of India’s influence. At this point the Nepalese appear to be relatively honest but greed will affect that, they are only human. India and China are corrupt and people, like the Nepalese ‘eek’ out a living. The difference between these countries and Nepal is that they are nuclearised and have to pay for large armies. Their investment in fear is higher.

Mohandas Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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