Friday, 4 March 2011

᚛ 4,600 ft feet above sea level ᚜

Mysore to Bangalore = 3 hours taxi ride and it aint the M25
Bangalore airport = 2 hour wait time
Bangalore-Delhi = 2.45 hr flight
Delhi airport = 4 hr wait
Delhi - Kathmandu = 1.40 hr flight

My journey began at 2am and ended in Nepal at 5pm the next day...
Exhausted , headachy and dehydrated.
This is my first view from the roof where I am staying.

roof view

As we circled Delhi waiting for permission to land I could see a mustard streak that sits above the city, a gruesome layer that floats atop the smokey smog like an ashtray cloud. A yellow Delhi ghost. Delhi looked huge and packed full of buildings. I'm not sure it looked very appetising although I am sure it is full of interesting India. The big cities scare me a bit in Asia. I'm a fan of the suburbs, the rural areas, the pastoral idylls, even if they do mask suffering. Suffering is everywhere but in a big city it's tangible, it's unimaginably awful and it's there in front of you. Reminding you that you have never ever got any reason to complain. Forget our badly paid jobs, our boring lunch, our knackered cars, our busy workload, our lack of motivation, our relationships....Suffering is everywhere and we all have had some but here it's mind boggling. I am going to pray for the grace to remember this stuff...this grey slimy misery, this yellow frothy topped city and try not to moan or wish for anything other than this blessed bit of life I have.
I really wish these life lessons would stay with me, but as we all know I'm the complainer of the century, the moaner of moaning, the itchy footed freak and I can but try.

self portrait with plant

After all of the waiting and zooming around in planes and sitting around at airports I was wishing I could unobtrusively take photos of kissing couples, sleeping tourists and strange hippy travellers. I'm waiting for Apple to develop the brain app, a tiny camera implant which means  all that I see I can download for viewing later. Especially as we started the breathtaking descent into Kathmandu airport. Oh wow, a big  lot of wow. I had begun to notice the sky clearing as we headed East from Delhi and the Himalayas were coming into view. I had booked a window seat and I was so glad. Mountain ranges look great from above. I'm not sure I want to climb Everest or anything but I do like looking at them. Once upon a time I declared myself a beach person but maybe I'm more inclined to mountains these days? It's definitely a mountain I climb every morning on my yoga mat...
As the plane sunk and my ears started popping and glugging I had the view of a lifetime, mountains, foot hills and green, green rice paddy terraces looking for all the world like torn edges of paper, layered and stacked in formation. No way of taking a photo but I will hold that image in my heart for ever. Beautiful, stunning and I wished I could slow down time so I could gaze some more at little houses on big hills surrounded with contours of grassy emerald and jade.

Landing was fine, after Bangalore and Delhi it looked like we were skidding into the Wild West. A few dilapidated buildings, nothing glittery or shiny here (thank goodness) I even saw a horse making a late afternoon shadow on an empty road and I thought there and then, "this might be my type of town."

I was met by a volunteer from the charity I have come to work with, as we raced through the narrow brick walled streets of Kathmandu I felt a frizz of life jump start my heart. I had arrived during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, the streets around the airport were bubbling with people and I saw impromptu drumming and dancing sessions by chillum smoking Sadhus. Hilarious and almost frightening, the driver zoomed away and we left the shouting and stamping feet behind us...


I'm going to be exploring more this weekend, I am working every day in a printing workshop which almost made me cry when I saw how simple and pretty it was. I am working with late teens/early 20s who are deaf and I am going to be learning Nepalese sign language twice a week, it is different from any other sign language apparently and I've also got Nepalese language lessons twice a week. Amazing. Pinching my arm as I write. This is my life? Thank you thank you. And it was casually mentioned that I would be visiting the paper makers next week and I'm sure my heart boomed loud enough for everyone to hear.

handmade journals

I'll show and tell some more next week...this is a sneak preview of the printed journals that they make in the print studio and below are some hand carved wooden stamps I found in the local mobile phone top up shop! Needless to say I bought a couple...the horse to remind me of the one horse town I thought I was flying into and the lotus seated pranayama yogi to remind me how I got here and a hand (not pictured) offering the blessing of good fortune. All made by hand, you can see the nicks of the knife. 

stampers delight

In my very brief ventures into the surrounding streets I've noticed that Kathmandu is a land of craft and makers. There are handicrafts and arts everywhere... It's going to be thrilling. It's very different from India, I'm still trying to work out why. The light for starters and not as friendly as my beloved Mysore but it is early days...I've only just begun.


chocolategirl64 said...

such a beautiful read while I eat my breakfast this friday morning:
my heart is full for you:
you are meant to be there!
big smiles and anticipation:

the letters i wish i'd written... said...

Oh I loved reading this, what an adventure, how inspiring you are!

Lizzie said...

Lovely Louise! I hope you are so very happy while you are in Nepal. The photos look so clear and colourful. I love the one of the pile of handmade books (so jealous - all those lovely books, hand-cut stamps and going to see the paper makers!!! lucky you!).
Work hard, have fun and be happy! I'm sure you will make a difference to that printmaking school.

gill said...

I loved this post!
I felt I was travelling with you!
Do keep posting when you can please!!!

Deborah Rose Crooks said...

LOVE it. Yahoo. So. happy. for. you. I'm at Bangalore airport waiting to head to the States. This reminds me to go see the big mtns next go. xo

Francesca said...

oohh goody goody goody! loving your inspirational posts. Nepalese language lessons! how wonderful. trip of a lifetime. i always try to hold onto to how humbling things can be, and then a little while later i go back to something mundane and spoilt like whether the grout in our new kitchen should be white or coloured.

i'm a mountain person. mountains and lakes together. we got that from our guatemalan escapades. guatemala and new zealand.
have fun. stay safe. looking forward to the next installment. x

Carol said...

A wonderful, inspirational post. I just love reading your beautiful descriptions, seeing your photos, catching a glimpse into another world.

the travelling bookbinder said...

I love you too! And your latest emotion/colour saturated post. Salutations! (Sunny ones!)