6 May: Pokhara, Nepal

6 May

I woke up later and Peter asked if I was coming for the interview they had with the Rotarian. I woke up feeling absolutely exhausted and didn’t think I would go. I considered another rest day. Then Pat came and reminded me and I changed my mind. I had a shower. I got myself down there on time and organised a take away breakfast as to not hold anyone up. Thirty minutes for me is pushing it, I don’t move fast and I take a little time to get ready, make-up, brekky etc. I think I am quick compared to most women. Anyway, I got there and we moved on and walked down the road for a taxi. Gordon and Krishna were way ahead. I heard that they had interviewed Krishna and he spoke articulately. He had a hard life and what I see in him is strength. He is intelligent and strong. I sense the Nepalese people have this as a characteristic, they are impressive people. I am glad stories are being recorded as I am sure they don’t get asked. It would be interesting to listen to a cross section of female and male voices. Females tend to be seen as less here and I would like to know the reality they face. Perhaps I interview some of the women from Seven Women who are disabled and have faced discrimination and rejection.

We got to the taxi and it appears we cannot all pile in. So I handed over my peace brochures for this Rotarian and Gordon and I decided to go for a walk. The project of interviews is really for Peter and Pat and they do it well together. So we went for a coffee. I needed to get my day started still not awake.

So we sat at a nice hotel and chatted about peace and life. Gordon told me of his life and early working experience. It was interesting to learn of his story. I’ve had some challenges but I am learning that every challenge is an opportunity and life happens through you not to you, you have to contemplate that. I do not see myself as a victim but having being strengthened through life. I don’t dislike anyone, so I am lucky I can see the good in people, always. I realise what I see is a reflection of me. It is hard to deeply acknowledge that and people would argue the toss with that one, but I am learning about projection and it is powerful. As I said to the Rotarian everyone does what they think is right given their perception of the World. He agreed. People do what they think is right otherwise they wouldn’t do it. They have to create a story or justify their actions to feel good inside. That is how we trick ourselves. To really be honest we have to look at our darkness which appears as someone doing it to us.

We walked around the lake to check it out and met a nice Irish woman, Rose. We decided to walk her around to the beginning of the track to the World Peace Pagoda. Apparently it was Japan that gave it to the Nepalese. I thought it was china but was wrong there. I understand the Japanese do have a peace ethic given the atomic attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended the WWII. What most people don’t know is that they surrendered before the attacks, but not unconditionally. They refused to give up their emperor who was like a god to them. So the attacks happened. Why do so many hundreds of thousands of people have to die? Big question. I also learned earlier this year that Japan also was fire bombed beforehand; many of their houses were wooden. So when the fire balls came they burned to the ground. I believe I heard that through Robert McNamara former US Defence Minister in the Kennedy administration. I was shocked hearing it. So much I am not aware of. It is the innocent that die and that is the key argument against war as a solution. I am for conflict resolution and recognising our own projections and finding ways to work together, this is true democracy. If practiced for real, it will change the world.

So we walked on chatting about Ireland, Gordon singing the odd song to compliment the theme with accent as well. We walked past a military base. The police and military may well overlap, the police seem to wear military uniforms. I saw a sentry watching. I wondered about the perceived threats to Nepal and how they could effectively repel an attack, they are only 27 million as compared to 1.3 billion in China and India is 1.2 million. Surrounded by giants population wise.

We walked through a little village and saw old woman sitting together in ramshackle huts. They were poor. They smile and say ‘namaste’. A younger woman came up and invited us for tea, I am sure there will be a charge, which is fine actually. But we had to go as we thought we were going to get back to the hotel by 1pm. Our walk took longer than we thought.

We got to the base of the mountain and we talked to a guy who was seeking to get money as a guide. We told him no. He then ended up telling us there was a baby tiger, which was in fact a baby leopard. We definitely wanted to see this. I was concerned it was captured but we are in Nepal and I am sure they are competing with traffic and cities. We went to an enclosure with shade cloth. The guy called out Asa’s name. This tentative cat started to emerge. It was much bigger than a domestic cat. It was a cub so still small. It came up to the corner hissing. It seemed to me more like instinct with humans. My Irish friend Rose was receiving most of the hissing as it was watching her. The cat was a male and after a while the man gave Asa some water. He started purring, definitely the cat family. Asa had beautiful big eyes, full of innocence and wide eyed. I felt for Asa being separated from his mother. Who knows what happened and how it happened. It is likely they won’t release him into the wild. They said they were protecting wildlife and they were researching human/wild animal’s relationship. I am not sure if they are just making money by having Asa there. Nonetheless we paid a donation, if it is for protection, then money well spent, if it is a way to make money then we are fuelling it unwittingly, although I checked out the website later and they seem legitimate. I did so enjoy seeing the leopard.  See Youtube of Asa

Gordon and I walked on and decided to go for a tea. Gordon bought 4 paddies, 2 cups of tea, one bottle of water, 2 chocolates (small) all for the grand total of 130 rupees. We sat and had a chat. I noticed a couple the women had dreadlocks and I assumed they were Israeli. I just smiled at them. Then they looked like they were going and I heard American accents. We ended up chatting to them and learned they were environmentalists. See YouTube of the interview we had https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewBR6TSahA4  We introduced ourselves and I then invited them to sit down. Thomas and Rene told us about their work in southern India which is a project to reforest an area. They also visited Auroville. I knew about this place as it was near Chennai, when I was there. It is a peace ashram and they said really amazing place. They encouraged me to go there. We ended up talking about plastic bottles which was a passion. They explained about the leaching of chemicals into the soil and that here in Pokhara you could get refills. All people have to do is Steri-pen their water and they won’t get sick. They were passionate about the environment and sometimes felt overwhelmed. We all enjoyed our conversation and I interviewed the guy about his passion. They both came from Oregon. The poor fellow hurt his back and it turns out he has to learn to slow down. His partner is trying to get him to slow down. They have another 2 months here and he told me his injury had been hurting for more than a month. I think he needs to rest. Gordon recommended a board at 45 degree angle to stretch out the back. Lean the board against a couch is the way we do it and hang your feet over the couch, much cheaper than a chiropractor. I suggested hanging upside down, so you never know he either thought we were crazy Aussies or he may give it a go.

As we sat there we saw soldiers marching past on the road. They had 303 Enfield’s. I remember that type of gun being used to kill Indians at Jallianwala Bagh during Gandhi’s time. Gordon said they were used in the Second World War. So the soldiers went past with their helmets and 303′s. It was interesting to see such old technology. Of course for me, all war is old technology and it is not a solution to conflict. It just causes more conflict. What do they say – you live by the sword you die by the sword, I am sure this is true. It only escalates misunderstanding.

I took a few photos. Then Gordon and I walked on and got happily lost. We had a sense were the lake was and just looked around at the normal part of Pokhara, not touristy area. We saw homes, rice fields, clay pot makers, furniture makers, brick makers, little shops. We saw nice big homes and small shacks.

We walked past a school and some old fellows were on a mat under a tree. They called us over and we sat with them. Smiling they told us there story as best they could in Nepalese and a little English. We told them we were from Australia and they said we are their guests. How sweet I thought. Would you ever see men in Australia sitting under a tree with happy smiles. They would be working or in the pub. Nepal has such a friendly culture. A little girl came up and she was smiling. I took her photo and with her sister. I think she was the granddaughter of one of the senior men. I felt relaxed and peaceful as I love the people here.

We walked on and some children had yelled at us from the school saying hello. We looked at the houses and saw a school bus of kids, they were full of smiles. Apparently we disrupted them, the teachers didn’t really like it but I don’t mind. I am saying hello and taking pictures. The kids were very good, they didn’t run amok just didn’t hear the instructions and moved slower. No problem.

We walked on and said ‘Namaste’ to random people. I saw a little girl yelling at her mum and her mum putting her fingers in her ears. She was finding her hard work. I could see she was a strong minded little girl. I put fingers in my ears and made noises as well to back up mum. I could see the intelligence in the child Oh how misunderstood are children. They are incredible, their own little people just with less experience, but they are smart. Not easy raising kids.

We walked on and found ourselves at a roundabout. Gordon filmed what seemed like chaos in the traffic but in truth it is organised chaos. They are great drivers and they miss by a hair width, but they are alert and it seems they have less accident then we do. However, when they have accidents, especially on bikes they could be hurt as they don’t wear protection.

We wove our way back and walked quite a long time. We took photos and enjoyed the walk. I was tired but happy. We ended up coming in the far end of Lakeside and stopped for tea. I put my feet up, my legs were hurting.

We then ended up walking back to Pun Hill Hotel and saw Peter and Pat. We all debriefed our day and then it was up for a quick shower, get dressed and out to dinner.

We went to a nice restaurant, very European looking (lots of wood, two levels). There was a nice candle on the table. I had vegetable Korma, Lasse and lemon tea I think. I was very thirsty. We then were naughty and had sweets, Peter has a sweet tooth. I had banana split which was nice. Probably put back on the weight I took off but hey we are here to live. Why not indulge, I haven’t had a banana split for years.

We then went for a walk and Peter walked off to do his thing. We visited some Kashmiri shops (lot here) and I had a chat about Kashmir, it seems things have really calmed, that is good to know. Gordon was on a mission for a pink felt hat and a bag that converts from backpack into handbag. Pat bought a book for Krishna, so she was happy. I saw some felt jester’s boots which I loved, I asked Pat for a loan, she offered to give them to me. I was very touched. She also helped me buy a headband which was again, very kind of her.

We went back happy to the hotel.  I have loved this hotel. They really look after you. We can get internet and they can do washing for us. They bring in your washing when it gets wet, so nice. I am so glad we spent extra days here. Slowly I am getting better. The raspy cough is disappearing and the throat, whilst still sore is better. I will go from strength to strength.

Life is meant to be an adventure, it starts when you notice. Every moment is a precious gift.

Mohandas Gandhi

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

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