For about a week, we lived on a mountain. Somewhere in Dhading in Nepal.
I had never been to Nepal before nor had I stayed on a mountain for more than 32 hours. It was not as “Into The Wild” as Bukidnon, or as random and haphazard as the India escapades. This one was planned with an itinerary and a large group. It had a primary purpose, which certainly did not involve being a tourist in luxury or over-indulging in curiousity. We were there for a brief teaching program for the village children, like a knowledge enrichment thing for their holiday break.
Up before 5, ready by dawn, herding and teaching kids before 7. At this ungodly hour, they were already busting with energy. Some of them had walked/climbed several kilometres from their homes. We felt responsible (or proper) to make the travel worth their time.
Black tea in stainless steel cups, steamed vegetables with masala and cumin, Dal Bhat — promptly served at 9, 12, 6. Darkness at 7, asleep before 9.
There was a system, a natural order, a flowing rythm. Disconnected from technology, the internet, mobile communications, even electricity — it is true what people say about how this restores some sort of balance. Without yearning nor extreme detachment, there was simply freedom.
There was nothing else to do but interact and connect and communicate. And in a society devoid of superficialities or worldly distractions, conversations could run endless. Language barriers were easily (okay, not so easily) broken and crossed. To treat each encounter with a smile and physical signs of respect (Namaste/ Namastar) could smoothly be followed by “Kasto Cha?” (How are you?) and so on. Perhaps what struck me the most was the sincerity, openness and confidence of people. With both children and adults, I noticed very minimal (almost lacking of) defensiveness or forms of insecurity that is quite common in cross-cultural encounters. And I think the absence of such eased the attempts at interaction and connection, both ways.
It is easy to romanticise such a setting and experience. I cannot proclaim that I haven’t. All I know is it reminded me of an ideal world, where everything is uncomplicated yet necessary. Where loneliness and isolation are alien concepts, though your nearest neighbour’s house is probably 50 metres away. All I know is it felt right, every bit of it.
So, thank you, Nepal. For reminding me of the important things and the insignificance of misanthropy.
Tik Cha. :)