Quarter century

True to my word, I am back for my monthly post.

Turns out, today is my birthday. I’m officially 25 (I don’t know why I was surprised, I knew this day was coming, but still… it was a shocker).

Birthdays are so weird to me, because I don’t usually feel any different. But today, I actually do feel older. Maybe it’s because everybody keeps referring to it as my quarter century. Thinking of this way almost makes me feel like I’m quarter of the way to dying or something, since who really lives a full century now a days.

Having a sister 10 years older then me, I’ve always seen 25 (or dare I say it… late 20’s) as something of the far off future. But now I’m here at what seems like lightning speed, and man I really feel like I’m running out of time. Or like I haven’t accomplished or done anything at all except perfect my finely tuned academic facade.

So you know what this means right?

1. Tonight is gonna be quite the party

2. It’s time to see the world

3. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to eat healthy (this is more a goal, but thought I’d throw it out there since I’m on the theme of aging. And let’s face it: with one hip surgery under my belt I’m no spring chicken!)

4. It’s time. To see. The world. So important of a point it gets another mention. Which means it’s time to start planning my next trip.

Me thinks I’m going to asia!

Anyways, happy birthday to all you other late birthday bloomers out there. Trailing behind the age pack sucked when it defined your legal status, but you only turn legal once and everyone else will always be getting older first. So I guess it’s not so bad after all.

Birthday or not, hope everyone has the best day ever… because this is, without a doubt, a special day for someone somewhere. And that in itself warrants a few smiles 🙂

These photos by Luis Monteiro puts me in a colourful birthday mood :)

These photos by Luis Monteiro for Tatler puts me in a colourful birthday mood

If it was warm outside, and I had these balloons.. this is what I'd be doing.

If it was warm outside, and I had these balloons.. this is what I’d be doing.

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Just a semicolon, not a period.

It has been just a little bit over a week since I’ve been back from Nepal, yet strangely my trip seems a life time away. I try to recall certain moments, the routines that I had, but it feels almost impossible that I was just there. In fact, how fast the trip itself seems to fading into the background scares me, mostly because it was such an amazing experience and I’m just not ready to let go of it.

I wish I had been able to take the opportunity to reflect on the trip earlier, but wanting to spend as much time there as possible, I had planned the trip to span from the first second I had a free moment to the last. Literally three days after I landed back home, I started my clinical orientation – jet lagged, and flu ridden. In fact, everything has been happening so fast, I am still currently living out of boxes. At this point, I feel like I have packed and unpacked so much, that unpacking would just be a trivial time consuming feat that would inevitably end up with me still somehow living out of boxes anyways. Either way, I am not unpacked, and still living out of cardboard boxes.

Being the end of the long weekend and all, and of course being the insomniac that I am, I have decided that I would take this lovely 2:09am moment to both reminisce and let go of my Nepali obsession.

What do I miss most about Nepal?

– The people: In all my years of life, I have never met a kinder and more welcoming group of people. I am sad to say that in my attempts to integrate back into my normal Canadian routine, I haven’t had a chance to contact all the new friends I’ve made as promised. Note to self: get on that soon. But seriously, I have met some truly amazing people and without them the trip wouldn’t have been the same.

– The traffic: Even though I pretty much shat my pants the first time I stepped out into traffic, I had grown accustom to it, and I miss all the crazy throngs of people and the cars. Never knowing if you were going to get hit by a rickshaw, a motor bike or just step in a muddy pile of poo water… it was like a daily adventure. I miss adventure.

– The cows: You don’t find random cows in alleyways back in Toronto. Boring.

– Live bands: If you are a music junkie, then Nepal is definitely for you. Despite the fact that all the bands began playing the exact same music by the end of the five weeks, pretty much the entire Guitar Hero 3 set list, it was still an large pool of amazing talent. I miss walking down the street at 8pm and just hearing live music blaring from every corner. I’m glad to say they did us proud with their Alanis Morissette and Bryan Adams’ covers.

– The mountains: Being that Nepal is pretty overcrowded with lots of cars and bikes, going even twenty minutes up the mountain meant feeling the difference in fresh air. It was clean, it was sweet, it was fresh. Never before did I appreciate the fresh air the way I did when I was there. There was something awesome about the view, about knowing you were travelling vertical kilometres above everything.

– The clouds: There’s something about Nepalese clouds, but they are always so fluffy. The mixture of constantly fluffy clouds and gorgeous mountainous backdrop pretty much meant a beautiful view wherever I went. I could live with that kind of beauty indefinitely, for sure.

This list could pretty much go on forever, because I pretty much just miss Nepal. I miss everything about it, I miss the stray dogs, I miss the food, I miss the humid warmth, I miss the rainy weather (I am inherently morbid), I miss the food, I miss the egg and ramen noodle soup from the restaurant across from my hotel (aka Lotus), I miss momos (Tibetan dumplings, oh how I miss thee), I miss the hospital, I miss the little street kids, I miss rolling roti. I miss driving along the country side, watching people live their lives. I miss the seeing family and friends just gather, enjoying each other’s company like nothing else mattered. Although 5 weeks is really not that long in the grand scheme of things, I still managed to feel like it was long enough that I had established a routine, a second home. I had my own little band of misfits, a mixture of fellow Torontonians and newly friended locals, and it was just fun.

I could continue this with discussions of all the life lessons Nepal has imparted on me, but I’m going to go out on a whim and say that it’s both irrelevant and boring. So instead, pictures! (But I will throw out a warning: if the option ever arises to spend the night in an airport, or get a hotel.. take the hotel. I’m pretty sure my back will never be the same.)

And this isn’t even a busy day.

Goodluck finding parking.

Toronto street wires on steroids.

Not uncommon – stray napping in the heat.

I called this the River of Garbage. The water was so thick with pollution, it seemed to be viscous in flow. Despite the hovering rain cloud, the clouds were still fluffy, just dark.

Home is what you make of it

The Monkey Temple gang of dogs. I imagine that they keep the monkeys at bay and from wreaking havoc.

Homelessness is everywhere. Awareness is key.

Colorful Buddhist flags. Each colour representing something different that contributes to balance in our lives.

After all, it is monsoon season.

Playing in the courtyard, photocreds of one of the girls at the orphanage during our time volunteering.

Bottled Fish. Ran into some kids using a small hook, string, worm and their bare hands.

He taught me the method to his madness.

Sunset at Durbar square, beginnings of the formation of the lineup for Curry without Worry

View before I jumped off a bridge.

View after I jumped off a bridge.

Told you clouds were fluffy.

Himalayan mountains

Sitting higher than a cloud = best seat in the house.

I might have cultivated the rice you are currently eating.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip what it was, my fellow RTWB members etc. Cliched as it is, but this trip has motivated me to do more, and this isn’t the end. I am inspired.

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, so long as you don’t stop” – Confucius

The Dinner Party

This post was written a few days ago, and so although delayed as it is in being publicized, I did not want to alter it to fit in the current sense of time.. so instead I just copied, pasted, and tried to flower up with photos.
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The thing about having one electronic device amongst many (well to be honest, two amongst seven), is that sometimes things get lost – and by this I am referring to the initial post I had written.

I will attempt to re-create the original post, but keep in mind that it will be lacking as it was written present time and this is past time. And not to boast, but it was full of humor, and wit, and humor.. and did I mention humor? But I shall do my best. It went something along the lines of describing my trip from New Delhi to Agra.

Something about New Delhi – nothing like what I had expected. Having spent 4 weeks in Kathmandu, the two cities were completely different. I do not want to discriminate, or maybe this is just a product of the bias I try so hard to avoid, but Kathmandu was friendlier, food was amazing… and I will forever miss the friends I left behind.

Conversation is good, just about anywhere. Ladies enjoying each other’s company in the middle of a parking lot in Agra.

So much time has passed, that completely mentioning everything would be useless (l blame my short term memory). But to recap, our supposed three hour ride to Agra, actually ended up taking almost 3 times that. Whether it was our driver, the traffic, extremely horrible weather, or a combination of all three… we left at 7:30 am and arrived somewhere around 3pm.

I was not prepared for the weather that greeted me. It was scorching. When I say scorching, I mean the simple of act of respiration was enough to render my clothes useless with perspiration (and by this I mean the act of breathing was enough to make me sweat). At this point, we had decided to attempt the Taj Mahal, as the world wonder shut its doors earlier than later and we did not want to forego the opportunity to witness it firsthand. Although I still found it strange, I was simultaneously grateful for the separate line for foreigners. I will admit, I did not want the unwanted attention that I was a tourist, but the 40 degree heat was enough to convince me to stamp the obvious on my forehead. On top of that, I was lucky enough to have bird poo on my purse (surprise, surprise); universal poo part 2. This makes three different countries in three different cities. Needless to say, this was completely worth it. It was larger than expected, more beautiful than I expected – overall, worthy of its title. I could go on about the Taj (yes, I am aware of the first name basis), but I would not do it justice so I will just admit pre-mature defeat.

Pictures do no justice. The Taj Mahal in Agra

Standing at the Taj, view from the Taj Mahal.

That evening we made our way to the Oberoi, one of the world’s best hotels. We needed to take a tuk tuk there (a little truck with three wheels, commonly known as a rickshaw). It was located in what I would consider a somewhat local area. Surprisingly, it wasn’t heavily populated with tourists, regardless it has to be one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever been in thus far (except the Metropolitan, which we had decided to spoil ourselves with during our last night in New Delhi).

The courtyard entrance of the Oberoi Hotel, it’s reputation rang true.

Nothing like some good ol’ cheesy fun. Kids at heart 🙂

Next morning, was even less eventful. I mean that’s if you consider visiting the Taj Mahal and one of the world’s greatest hotels (ever. Note the period.) uneventful. We spent a majority of time trapped in our little travel mini bus as we travelled to Jaipur. On our way to Elephantastic, an interactive elephant village, we passed by the Amber Fort and Palace. It was in Jaipur that I witness my first set of Indian mountains. Up until this point, I had pretty much given up hope of witnessing any sort of foliage whatsoever, but I lucked out and was graced with grassy hills and potentially questionable farms. At Elephantastic, I was able to get close to the elephants, and packaged corn stalks in such a way that was easy for them to grab and go. We rode the elephants, and wade in an elephant pool (full of elephant poo), helping wash off excess dirt which was essentially ineffective since I was so grossed out by the fibrous elephant poo floating around me. Either way, a good visit if you’re into elephants and ever find yourself in Jaipur, India.

Some new elephant friends at Elephantastic

Love at first sight.. her name is Kali and she’s got spunk.

Not having spent much time in any of the cities, there was one parallel that caught my attention between the three. In Jaipur, a simple ten minute walk brought me across 12 homeless people – mathematically bringing me across someone very 1 minute and 12 seconds. Being something I mentioned in my past posts during my time in Nepal, I truly realized that the global reach of homelessness was extensive. Being active in homeless initiatives back at home, and being touched by the issue in Nepal, I wish I had enough time to endeavor some sort of response. Unfortunately, big group inertia kind of sucks. Big time.

In Pokhora, I came across an old lady hauling a basket full of bananas on her back via a strap supported by her forehead. She had fed me the same line that I had heard multiple times… “times our slow, business is slow – no money”. Purchasing one banana could have made her day, and I immediately regretted ignoring it. The next day, keeping her in mind and walking lake side (Phewa Lake), I ran into her again and purchased all her bananas (pardon my spelling, but “kiera” in Nepali). I am 100 percent sure that she had overcharged me for her bananas, yet I didn’t bother arguing despite my new found bargaining talent. Instead, I paid her asking price, and we spent the next fifteen minutes handing them out along the lake. Hearing an English “thank you”, as I retraced my steps home, was enough to certify that I had done a good thing.

Back in Thamel, the amount of street kids is overwhelming. Having volunteered in an orphanage full of trafficked children, or victims of war, made me wonder who was looking out for the kids addicted to sniffing glue, various paints, adhesives etc. Speaking to program directors, I learned that they went far out to little villages to recruit children that needed the extra care and attention. Yet, walking down the street one night I ran into 3 or 4 kids that were hungry, collecting plastic bottles or cardboard boxes for money. Why was there so much attention outside the city, when there was so much needed inside it?

I have labeled our last personal initiative before leaving Kathmandu, Nepal: The Dinner Party. That night, with the help of local friends, we were able to arrange a set menu of all you can eat “Dal Bhat” – a Nepali dish of rice, some sort of curry, veggies and lentil soup at a local restaurant. Word spread like wild fire between the street children, each one giving a heads up to the other. By the end of it, 24 children were fed, new friends were made, and my only regret is that they will only be nutritionally satisfied for one night and I wasn’t proactive enough to reach more in time. That night, I learned that although most of them were in their early to late teens, malnutrition making them look at least five years younger. A boy I had consistently fed, whom I thought was 7 or 8 years old, was in fact actually 12. I learned that some of them had talent, singing classic oldies my dad karaoked too, or dreamed of being tattoo artists. Even meeting some kids in the morning for a hug three hours before my flight, forcing pastries that they were too shy to take.

My “tattooed” name in Nepali as designed by new friend Anup (aspiring tattoo artist). The rest of their tattoos are real, and most of them under the age of 15.

Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

One of my doctor friends at the hospital told me something once, which I’m sure I have reiterated in a previous post – “one of the worst pains, will always be hunger pains”. Never really suffering it, I never realized the truth of the statement but it’s verbal recognition emphasized it’s truth. Realizing the capability of targeting it a little too late, I wish I had left a bigger footprint.

But hey, everything happens for a reason, and at least now I have a few new facebook friends.

The last resort…

The road to Agra is a crowded one. Unlike back at home, the highway is shared by both pedestrians as well as cars. On the ends closer to the city, it is full of people selling their wares, abundant amount of children begging and others just sitting around – perhaps they are resting, maybe they have no where to go, or perhaps it is just a simple case of people watching. Probably people watching, I’d totally people watch too, but I am a self proclaimed eccentric… Translation: I’m weird.

For the most part the ride is okay, but the existence of road lanes seems redundant as no one seems to follow them anyways. Every so often we reach a junction of high traffic flow, and at this point we are bombarded with bananas, fruits, chess sets, and sadly monkeys dressed in costume with make up. Similar to Nepal, cows wander here freely. The only exception being that these ones are ginormous, in my opinion resembling oxes and bulls more so than cows.

Although sleepy, I’m trying to resist the urge to succumb to my heavy lids like the rest of my group. I keep thinking, or hoping that I will come across some beautiful tall mountain, green hilly knolls or some sort of waterfall or raging river. Lack of anything scenic makes me nostalgic for my Nepalese home. There I was irritated by the honking, but now I try to hold on to any reminder… in fact I wish there was more honking. So badly so that I am tempted to hijack the wheel and start honking myself.

Because of my obsession with Nepal’s scenery, it is fitting that one of my last experiences was spent surrounded by natural beauty at the Tibetan border.

“imagine a bridge over a 160m high tropical gorge, with the Bhote Kosi, one of Nepal’s wildest rivers raging below… Now jump.”

The above quote? Stole it from the back of my teeshirt. Teeshirt? Got it for jumping off a bridge, twice. I had spent an entire day bungee jumping off the second highest jump in Asia and jumping from the worlds highest canyon swing.

Having spent the entire morning ride to the border sleeping, I didnt get to fully and completely inhale my surroundings. The ride back down however was a narrow road that ran along side a raging rapid, circling around jade green rice fields and punctuated with waterfalls. The road extended through tiny community like villages where children played, family and friends gathered roadside and no one really cared about a bus full of tourists.

Standing on top of the suspension bridge at The Last Resort I was awed. Surprisingly I was too busy admiring the beauty of the combination of peaceful hills and rapid waters to be afraid of the fact that I would be swan diving head first held only by rope. If I looked straight ahead, I had a direct view of the Tibetan mountains. I can still remember taking a deep breathe, and feeling the taste and freshness of the air.

With only a twenty minute time difference, I had not expected India to contrast so much with what I had already become so used to in Nepal. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that India also has alot to offer.

Five days is in no way long enough to do any one place justice, but I’m determined to take in as much as I can in this short time; either that or eat every single McVeggie burger humanly possible.

I’ll try to post up pictures soon, promise!

The universal poo

Falling in line with the words of one our new found friends, I am what you would call a part time blogger (even though I aspire to be a full time one, kidding). Despite my best efforts, resistance against daily blogging never seems to subside. Black outs, lack of internet, more black outs, lack of time… it’s never ending. Yet I don’t mind, because this usually means I am doing more, and experiencing more.

My time in Nepal has officially come to an end, as of this morning I made the move to New Delhi in India. But in the interest of continuing to document my little adventures, I’m going to continue recounting the past from where I left off. 

I tend to write posts as I go along wherever I can (i.e. iPod, journal etc), so I really will just be posting entries I have made throughout time.

Following Curry without Worry, the children’s orphanage and our daily morning rounds… we ended up taking the advice of many locals and paid a visit to Pokhora, approximately a six hour drive from Kathmandu. At the mention of potential landslides that are common during the monsoon season, we immediately opted to cut down the six hour drive to a twenty minute flight. Ultimately, this proved to be an excellent choice, with the view from above proving a worthy contender for the alleged roadside beauty below.  As we flew over Pokhora, the line of Himilayan mountains that we were initially exposed to in Nargakot became less of a distant horizon and more of a beautiful backdrop. Our friend, and guide, Bipin, told us that on a clear day with no clouds to obstruct our view, Mount Everest is usually easily seen.

Pokhora was vastly different from Kathmandu. Whereas Kathmandu was overrun by motor bikes and cars, Pokhora boasts a large lake in its centre surrounded by hills. The scenery was like cottage country on steroids. There was a side walk, less mud, hotter temperatures and what seemed like more organized traffic rules.

On our first day there, we settled in on the top floor of our hotel, which gave us a direct view of the mountains. Knowing that 2 days was nowhere near enough, we immediately tried to get through all our activities. We went zip lining at the world’s highest zipline, at the top of a hill known as Sarangkot. As we could only go down in pairs, and being that the order of pairs were done from lightest to heaviest in terms of weight, I was the first down. While I waited for the rest of my group, I noticed behind us there were four ladies tending to the rice fields. For some reason, this interested me.

My friend and I decided to trek down from the top of our hill, to gain a closer look. Now, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. As we walked along, we attempted to hop over a wired fence to get to the patties quicker. However, a Tibetan lady noticed us and motioned for us to go around, which was an obvious longer and more tedious route. Not wanting to offend, we did as she bid, and ended up being invited to cross through her home. This gave us an inside view of Tibetan home and a direct (safe barb wired les spath) to our curious rice patties.

The rice fields were a bright, vibrant green. There were many fields, separated by different elevations and divided by a mud path. Walking down this path, we were able to not only observe Tibetan Nepali women tend the rice fields; we were able to strike up a rapport which resulted in us joining them in the patty fields. I could not refuse their offer to remove weeds that impeded on their crop growth, so I ditched my sandals, hiked up my bottoms and squatted in the fields with them. It was difficult, as each rice plant is equally spaced from each other, yet still close enough that stepping down fully would crush at least 1 or 2 plants. My bout as a amateur rice picker ended when my only jeep ride back down the mountain was scheduled to leave.

The rest of the weekend was pretty similar to that of anyone else visiting Pokhora. Unable to make the hike up the mountain to the World Peace Pagoda, a Japanese Buddhist temple, my friend and I decided to take a cab (I would have loved to make the hike up, but I  had surgery less than 2 years ago. Which is really the best excuse, if any, to be lazy.). The next day we had hoped to paraglide between the hills, but unfortunately there was no availability. Instead, we rented canoes and decided to row around for a bit before our flight home. In the middle of Fewa Lake (the lake in the centre of Pokhora) there is a Hindu temple. We decided to visit the temple, as there are often little trinkets of goods and knowledge. Now I don’t know whether it is an uncanny coincidence or an established act that needs to occur in every country I travel to, but I got pooed on the head. Yes, a bird, pooed on my head. I’ve been told its lucky, and being that pigeons feel comfortable with me in almost any foreign place (this is the second time outside of Canada), I expect something large and grandeur to happen. I can feel it, or at least that’s something I told myself to counter balance the warm gunk in my hair.

Flash forward one week later, and now we are in New Delhi. In the week leading up to this point, we did many other things that I will blog about later as they were interesting enough to deserve a little bit more depth. Being in New Delhi is completely different from what I expected. My initial landing in Nepal as a third world country I had expected worse conditions and living accommodations. Having stayed there for four weeks in an amazing hotel, I think I was spoiled into thinking that all third world accommodations would be of the same caliber. In India, having booked a hotel within the same price range of ($20/night) I expected more than what is offered. Also, India itself is drastically different from Nepal. I’m glad to be here, but I can’t say that this is my favorite place of travel. The roads are equally crowded, if not moreso, and the smog and pollution is definitely worse. Layered on top of that is the excruciating heat. It is so hot here, that even standing for more than moment means a sweat soaked shirt. Flies are in abundance here, and similar to Nepal so are the stray dogs, although these ones look a bit more hearty. Perhaps my experience in Nepal is influencing my current perception of India, but I’d say the biggest difference between the two places would have to be the warm friendliness of the people. Regardless, standing on the rooftop and looking out over the city gives me the same sense of liveliness and excitement that comes with learning and living in a new culture.

Tomorrow we head to Agra, and hopefully I will have time to post about my last few days in Nepal. But for now, to all my new friends… I will miss you dearly.

my extremely-long-once-a-week post

Disclaimer: The timing of this post is all over the place. In the past week I’ve written and added to my post as often as I could whenever I had the time. Also, because I’m recounting what I’ve done this past week, this post is going to be long. But to prevent it from being the equivalent of a thesis project, I’m going to divide it into two parts.  
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Curry without Worry, was absolutely amazing. Having spent the entire day there, I can say this was the most fulfilling day I have had this entire trip (hefty, I know). Arriving at 11am, I started washing vegetables around a tiny faucet located in a large courtyard, while others set up benches where we would eventually convene to cut food and enjoy each others company. Now I wouldn’t say I’m a language person, but I’m all for cultural integration, and this set up also allowed me to pick up more Nepalese throughout the day. I can now hold a semi-full Nepalese conversation (I don’t mean to brag… but I’m totally bragging). I also probably completely personified the Nepali stereotype of a western woman,  as after slicing my first and only potato, I sliced my finger too. I was then demoted to potato peeling, followed by the question of if I have ever cooked. Despite my efforts to discretely inch my way back to the cutting board, and swearing that I know how to cut potatoes (the knife was dull okay), I took their rusty potato peeler and retreated.

The little corner of the bench where I was exiled.

A definite positive to this day, was being included in local eatery. I find that there are really not that many specific Nepali dishes, at least not where I’m staying. The menus usually feature mixes from surrounding areas – chow mein, fried rice, Tibetan momos, Indian curries etc. For lunch, I had authentic Nepalese food as cooked by the locals. Interesting fact: most of the cooking, cleaning and chopping were done by the men (the way it should be). It was interesting to observe them cooking dal bhaat (a lentil type soup dish that is eaten with rice) in large metal vats fueled by propane tanks out in the open.

This guy was a GREAT cook! He pretty much cooked food for all the volunteers and for all the homeless people as well

They even let me stir, it was exciting. 

This was a big wok of some sort of potato, bitter melon, spice and curry mixture. So good.

After lunch, I started rolling roti. Having a sister as a pastry chef, I didn’t think it could be the hard. I mean, she’s shown me how to use a rolling pin before. Obviously I was giving myself a little too much credit, as my roti’s could be easily picked out of the batch; being the only square ones amongst a sea of circles. I even caught one of the older ladies smushing my roti up into a ball, and then re-rolling it. Although I pretended not to notice, I cried inside… JUST a little. Despite that, after two hours of roti rolling, they improved significantly.

One of the men preparing and kneading the dough for the roti. He then helped us prepare and roll the roti.. versatile.

Learning how to roll roti for the first time

 

Normal circle roti vs. weirdly shaped tiffany roti

Eventually, all the food was cooked, and we walked up a hill into the middle of Durbar Square, towards a large Hindu temple. There was already a congregation of people waiting together, and whether or not it was simply for the expectation of food or because this is where they usually mass together, I cannot say.

There were women, wrapped in shawls with holes and streaked with runs. Children wearing mismatched slippers, yet exuding enough initiative to perform some sort of science experiment with water in a bottle. Little girls with smudged faces, braiding each other’s hair with dirt crusted finger nails. There were old men, patiently waiting, not saying a word. Being there for a purpose, it is always sad to be aware of the existence of hunger pains. Yet the vivacity that still exists within the group was admirable and uplifting. The food was being delivered uphill in a van with no door, with orphan boys holding the large vats of food. We hung up the banner, announcing our presence and a lineup was formed. Children first, followed by women, followed by men. Overall, the night was a success. It was all smiles, and smelled delicious.

Helping to put up the sign by posing with a peace sign obviously

The rest of the week I spent at Volunteer Nepal/Nepal Orphans Home. Offering my services as an after school teacher/helper, which really only meant playing with the adorable little kids. I spent most of my time at Pratap’s house, which was a boy’s home. The age group of the boys varied from 7 – 17. I spent my time with the little kids, and found out their interests and aspirations. There was 12 year old Prem, who wants to be a dancer and can do a mean moon walk, 7 year old Preyance, who wants to be a “pilot for space ships”, 11 year old Rajan, who wants to be a doctor and loveable 12 year old Sujan who has yet to plan for his future. I was also lucky enough to interact with one of the older boys, who loves to cook and dreams to one day help other children like he was helped. His love of cooking developed from his need to cook. At the age of 3, his father was forcefully arrested amidst the political unrest, his mother fell ill, and he was left alone to care for his little sister. Now how a three year old manages to cook is beyond me, but I guess the drive for survival can manifest in different ways.

To everyone at home, MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY!

Curry without Worry

One of the things I will always remember about Nepal is – it has an issue with stray dogs. I’m not entirely sure what time it is, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say it is somewhere around 3 or 4 am; either one an unfortunate hour to be awake at. AND I have a stomach ache, again.  So… blame the water? But seriously, there have been increasing amounts of cholera outbreaks recently.

From the sounds of it, there are two stray dogs outside my window that are either having a lot of fun, barking dog profanity at each other or passing along messages in search of lost puppies (couldn’t help but squeeze in a Disney reference). 

Weekend was kind of uneventful. The best part being that the rest of our group has joined us from Toronto. There was an intense rain storm that ended up flooding an entire street, and the only way to get home was wading more than ankle deep in muddy rain water mixed with sewage. It was simultaneously pretty disgusting yet extremely fun. Someone told me I could get ringworm though, so I hailed a rickshaw and opted for one of the scariest rides of my life home. I was sure that at any minute the rickshaw bike would tip over and throw me into the water so I could catch ringworm on my face instead of my legs. 

Beginning of the week debrief: we started our first day at the hospital as a full group of seven instead of four, and concerns were raised that the tiny ICU may not be so accommodating. We also paid a visit to Papa’s house, a Nepalese orphanage that we intend to spend some free afternoons after the hospital at. 

But tomorrow is what I’m really excited about (or today I guess). Being that there is too cramped of a space in the hospital for all of us at once, we will be rotating our time there. I offered to take the first shift out of the hospital, and in lieu of my time there will be volunteering for Curry without Worry instead. 

Although I’m not sure why, especially since the people here are so nice, I never expected to stumble over an event like this. Basically the idea here is that every Tuesday, people come together to cook, prepare and serve food to Kathmandu’s homeless population. Starting early tomorrow morning I will be helping to cut and prep veggies, and in the evening serving food to at least 250 people. I know I totally  made myself seem like a martyr by offering up my hospital position, but truth is this was a cause that I really wanted to be apart of. Homelessness has always been so prominent, it is present all over the world. But apparently so is human kindness. 

I cannot say I look forward to being in the crazy hot sun and heat tomorrow (most likely rain too)  but being part of a big community with a bigger heart seemed way too good, and authentic, of a thing to pass up. 

P.s Second thing I won’t forget about Nepal – after the dogs have their fun, the monkeys throw a party. Which truly only torments the dogs into barking some more. The mix of barking dogs and monkey chatter will never leave me. Damn you adorable monkey mischief, damn you.

P.p.s I decided to write this post on my iPod touch since my laptop is still drained, and since I wrote bajillion word essays I can now hear roosters. Woe.