An Angel and a Newari

When hippies described Kathmandu in the 60’s and 70s, it was known generally as a peaceful city of temples and large stretches of agriculture. Much of that land has been consumed by the massive sprawl of city and people moving into the cities center. This growth grew exponentially due to the recent civil war that spanned a decade, bringing desperate families to Kathmandu to seek safety and economic needs. This weekend I got a chance to see what the Kathmandu valley might have used to look like, with residents living side by side with large agricultural tracts of land.

On Friday morning I got a call from my friend Amy. She knew the situation I was in and was devoted to helping me sort my life out. So Amy gets the gold star for being my guardian angel for the week. Amy had called up her good Nepali friend Shail to help me out for the weekend. Within a few hours, Shail was at my curb side on his motorbike ready to take me to his place for a weekend of relaxation. As he put it “any friend of Amy’s is a friend of mine.” This would be my first exceptional case of Nepali hospitality.

I hopped on Shail’s motorbike for a thrilling ride through the streets of kathmandu. If you’ve never had a motorcycle ride through a South Asian Country, add it to the list. The adrenaline you get from cutting through mass of random people, buses, bikes animals, cars and general randomness is unmatched.

So again, I put my trust in a stranger in Nepal and again it paid off. Shail is an incredible example of a Nepali – intelligent, kind, hospital, and willing to go completely out of his way to make you happy. He is a descendant of the Newari caste, one of the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. I learned about Nepali language and culture, international affairs, Bollywood movies, and what good Dal Baat really tastes like. Either I’m extremely lucky or I sure do know how to make the most amazing friends.

 I also got to hang out with several of his friends during a ruckus evening, and made a trip into Kathmandu to see the posh side of Kathmandu life. Know to us foreign folk as King’s Road, this strip of land boasts the most cosmopolitan part of Kathmandu, featuring an Apple store, Nike, a KFC (until its own employee union shut it down) and other high end stores. Having seen only the filthy neighborhoods of Thamel and Kalanki, I was hard to believe I was in the same city.

It would have been a perfect weekend if I was night still enduring extreme anxiety. My mind still hadn’t caught up with my body, and I still lacked sleep. It turned into more insomnia and a rough couple of evenings for me. On Saturday night I headed back to Kathmandu, where Amy graciously offered to host me until my housing situation cleared up.

Like I said, I couldn’t have asked to meet better people in Nepal. They have helped me survive one of my toughest weeks away from home.

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