15 April: Kathmandu, Nepal

I had a good sleep in and a late breakfast. The rest of the team went to the LEARN Office to meet with Kailash Yongan and Krishna Pun. I spent the morning resting and practicing magic tricks.

Peter knocked on my door at lunchtime and invited me to lunch. I came down and met with Kailash and Krishna. They had beautiful smiles and warm eyes. I so know we will become friends and have a really illuminating journey.

We talked about clowning, joking (Gordon) and life. It was a lovely lunch. Then afterwards we went to get sim cards and a walk around Thamel in Kathmandu. I found the tourist area as typical of tourists areas, expensive and lots of tourists. My preference is to stay with locals. Anyway, I just walked around observing. Many Europeans are staying here and some Americans. We went for a long walk and noticed the clothing shops. I saw a great crafts place where they make felt objects.  I felt place (felt is big here) and saw some jesters shoes but not with the turned up toes. They are the ones I am after. Beautiful handicrafts everywhere and I know I cannot appreciate the details and craftsmanship as I have never made anything at this standard. But my instinct tells me it is wonderful and to pause longer to take it in.

We walked around and I observed the people noting women with babies, the men were wearing the taller hats pointed with a ridge. They reminded me of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India who wore the same style of hat. Older men seem to wear them, the younger guys have gel and dark glasses, Bollywood comes to mind. The women, as always, look beautiful in saris, traditional dress with woven patterns and the comfortable long tops and pants. I made a mental note to get some in the country areas (to support local trade).

We walked and then stopped for coffee and cake. We then walked onto Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a world heritage site with monuments dating back to the 12th century and dated to the 18th century. Again I had no real knowledge of what this meant but walked around admiring the many temples, shrines (both Hindu and Buddhist) designed in a pagoda style. Apparently until the early 20th century the Durbar Square was the King’s residence. It is a living open museum. As we walked around we took in the ancient style and design of the temples. The feeling of religious tradition was evident and we saw some holy men posing for the photos. The temples were dedicated to different gods and entities. Some dedicated to Shiva, queens, Hanuman a Hindu god (depicted as a monkey), a mystic goddess of Tantric origin, Ganesh and so on. We saw many people milling around, some police watching over the site. It was like stepping back in time.

We left there and continued walking. As we walked Peter decided to take an alternative route and we got a little lost. He never said a word until the others got wind of it. He just followed his nose. We walked through the real Kathmandu, it was rubble roads and poorer housing conditions. We saw children playing on the street and women talking over fences, and washing hanging on multi-storey buildings that were dilapidated. I found out that there is a population of 30 million in Nepal. It is not a big country but there are many people living there, many coming in from the countryside. I walked aware that I am a western looking person and from another world, really. I commented how we just fly in and all we can do is look at the surface of life here, we can never know the depth and breadth of that life, the customs, cultures and the languages. The people here are seeing each other differently to the way we see, and I find that fascinating. I cannot judge as I would be wrong. Even poverty I cannot judge. We become accustomed to life and I know in my own life just having food and a roof has been a wonderful gift. They have real wealth in family and friends, so one can never compare the worlds. They are also a more spiritual people and I felt more harmony here than in India. However I am sure that is changing slowly with increasing capitalism and values becoming global. However, life is change and we are all moving into the same melting pot. Our world is globalised and internet has brought us all closer together. If you can imagine something you can create it, every person has that ability but many do not realise it and think they are stuck in situations. The same applies in the West. Materialism never buys happiness in my view, to thine own self be true does. It matters not what country or custom you come from, it matters not what gender or age grouping. We are all members of the planet and we can chose to look through wise eyes or believe there is not enough. There is great abundance in life, I feel.

Eventually Peter decided to get a taxi and we were whisked back to the hotel. We were all tired and I was conscious of clowning the next day, I need a lot of energy. We had dinner and an early night.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

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