Sunday, June 9, 2013

...And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu! (RKipling)

That 'just arrived' look!
In the words of Ecuador fief cohabitant (read serf), co-owner of the trickshaw, tenant and companjero, James Birthrong III “that’s the way she rolls”. And roll she does, life that is, she rolls right along. I am in the moment before yet another international move, this time from Vilcabamba, Ecuador to Kathmandu, Nepal….pretty much the opposite side of the planet (but at least still the same planet, albeit arguably a different world). Cecile is posted to Kathmandu with the UN Refugee Agency and starts work on 15 June. Together with the boys and I, we’ll take up residency and likely be there 3yrs.

Nepal. Been there (first in 1986), lived there once upon a time (1987-1990) and I am looking forward to it although the changes will be myriad and I expect initially to provoke some distress. 23yrs ago (!!) when I left, it was still a city of manageable proportions with a reincarnate king (revered by many), 184 days of holiday in the year and we biked everywhere that we didn’t walk. I was there in the hey-day just post hippy era when you could still roll up a spliff in public and being a trekking/ climbing guide put you in an elite echelon of near demi-god’s in the tourism business, still Nepal’s main source of foreign income. I was in my mid-20’s living the high life in Shangri-la.

The air isn't so bad now, monsoon season.
Just trying out the gear.
Times have changed. First the Royal family was deposed and replaced by a Republic, they were then shot up and most of them killed (by the King’s own playboy son no less), trade went nutty with China and India, the two Asian giants, pinching Nepal from either side building roads and taking advantage of Nepali’s desperate for acceptance and opportunity by one of their gargantuan neighbors. Disquiet resulted in a civil war with the rise of the Maoists as a movement that, by the time peace was signed in 2006 had killed 13,000 people. The war caused significant urbanization as rural villagers escaped (the recruitment of their children into the war, amongst other things) to the Kathmandu valley. With that I am told has come a sometimes suffocating air pollution made up of particulate matter like dust from the movement of too many people in a small place, carbon burning because many people still use fires for cooking, burning of plastic and rubber and unregulated industrial burning combined with an stagnant air movement pattern in the Valley. Kathmandu is not high altitude, in fact it is about the same as Vilcabamba (1300-1500m) but mountains surround the alluvial basin and only when the wind blows in from the south does the Valley get a breath of fresh air. The rest of the time it wallows in its toxic airborne soup. This will be a challenge. Since Beirut us lads have lived in the unpolluted mountains of the lower Andes, our lungs cleansed and now possibly vulnerable to abuse; we’ll have to see (how she rolls).

It is still Kathmandu with its unique, high frequency, off its head vibration. The mélange of Hinduism and Buddhism that creates a fantastic Crazyism has not gone away. And you can still escape easily to the high fringes of the valley where the air and the views are quite refreshing. Neither have the tourists gone away, they are re-massing now that there is a semblance of political stability. The industry related activity level in the valley, in the skies and in the mountains reaches a crescendo during the two main trekking/climbing seasons (Oct-Dec, Feb-April). There is a major Siva temple in the valley, a mega forceful Krishna presence and a hugely active Tibetan Buddhist community with monasteries forever. And there are temples for Kumari, for Vishnu, for Durga, Parvati, you name a god/dess, there will be one. Whether on the street corner or out on a hillside, you never run short of temples in Nepal all with their festivals and moments related to the moon or the can get quite nutty.

The boys will go to a bilingual French school (medium in English and French) after their year of homeschooling in Ecuador which starts in September. Between now and then we will arrive, find a house, receive our shipment, move in and move on to figure things out. I hope to gain traction with teaching Yoga and doing Yoga therapy to see how that will work out as a way of making ends meet. Time will tell, perhaps even running yoga/trekking camps is something that can come into the picture, welcome yoginis and yogis from Ecuador and Lebanon, Portugal and Canada and everywhere in between!  and I may have to get a real job although parenting remains my priority so we’ll have to see how she rolls.

One thing for sure is that the visit potential is high for Nepal….it should be a 3 year stay so there is time to plan and make it so. Recalling Kiplings line in his poem 'the Neolithic Age' ...and the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu'. which actually refers to the growth of exotic plants in Kew Gardens in London but never mind! He doesn't really expand on which exotic plants!!!

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