Outlanderings

Adventures of Two Americans Living and Working in Nepal

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

The Girl in the Yellow Sari

A few times a week, Travis and I go for a run through the fields and hills behind our apartment in Kathmandu. Our main route is to head down through the green fields where the local women are usually at work planting or harvesting their crops and then up the mountain road that leads to the Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu’s biggest (and most beautiful). The best time of day to do this run is between 4 and 5 p.m., when the sun is starting to go down just a little and the light brings out the bright colors that dot the rural landscape. It’s a rare part of Kathmandu that could actually be described as “picturesque”.

Today, I went for the run solo and reached the top of the hill around 4:30 p.m., making the usual U-turn at the monastery. Not too far into my descent down the mountain, I caught a glimpse of a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, wearing a beautiful, flowing sari in the brightest color of yellow I had ever seen. The sari was a bit dressier than what is typically worn for “everyday” in Nepal, so I figured the girl must be coming from or going to a celebration for one of the religious festivals occurring this week. The way the light was hitting her sari against the green of the fields below was really striking, and I briefly thought how I wished I had my camera on me.

I continued jogging downhill and passed her. Since the volume of my iPod was up pretty high, I couldn’t hear much aside from the music blaring in my ears. But a few seconds after passing this girl, I started to feel heavy vibrations through the concrete of someone’s feet pounding the pavement behind me. I turned my head and saw a small shadow creeping up on mine. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes, I might add – was chasing me.

I turned to look back at her and she gave me a huge grin, her sari flowing in the wind over her head. She picked up the speed and took the lead, her pink dress shoes flopping a little off her heels with each step as she pulled ahead of me.

Scratch that. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes – was racing me.

I kept my pace and stayed behind her. She kept turning to look at me with her big smile. We continued like this until we reached the fork at the bottom of the hill and she stopped, clearly headed in a different direction. “You win!” I said, running by. She just laughed and waved at me as I continued on home.

Best run yet.

Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple

Another day in Nepal, another festival celebrated.

Yesterday was the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, a day where devotees give blessings, offerings and worship to the Hindu God Shiva. It’s an especially special day in Kathmandu, since the city is home to the Pashupatinath Temple, located on the banks of the Bagmati River, where Shiva is believed to once have lived.

The temple is a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindu holy men, or “sadhus,” who come in by the droves from India to celebrate the festival. Some photos taken at Pashupati yesterday!

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Breaking News: The Phuleli School is Complete!

This just in: Save for a few small details, the new, earthbag school in Phuleli is finished! We just received word and photos that the students moved in to the classroom space this week.

We’ll be headed back to the field very soon, so more pictures to come. Thanks to all for your support toward making this school a reality!

The newly completed school is the white building with the blue roof.

The students of Phuleli settling in for class in the new building!

An Inspiring Little Mountain Climber

Through my involvement with Next Generation Nepal, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible people.

I’ve also had the pleasure of spending many a Saturday in the wonderful company of the kids from Karnali Home One in Kathmandu, NGN’s transitional home for children who have been trafficked into corrupt orphanages. The staff at Karnali Home provide a supportive, loving environment for these children while NGN reintegration managers are in the process of searching remote mountain areas for their families.

There is one girl in particular at Karnali Home who has been a total honor and inspiration to get to know. Shruti, 9, is a burst of smiling, giggling energy, who loves to explore and goes into fits of joy upon spotting a pretty bird, a blooming flower, a mountain view or really any gift of nature that many of us would take for granted. Spend a few minutes with Shruti, and I guarantee your perspective on things will shift dramatically and for the better.

Shruti’s favorite thing to do while out on walks is to climb to the top of the highest hills in sight, undoubtedly so she can take in as much of the landscape as possible. Observant and sharp, Shruti sees the beauty in everything – a remarkable trait considering what she has been through in her life.

Recently, NGN’s reintegration managers succeeded in finding members of Shruti’s family, and a few weeks ago she received a visit from her uncle, the first family member she can recall ever meeting. It was a pretty amazing accomplishment for the reintegration managers, given that there was very little information about her family to go on. It was, obviously, also a pretty amazing day for Shruti.

If you have a second, check out this story about Shruti’s reconnection with her uncle now up on NGN’s website. I promise it will get your week off to a great start!

Returning from India

So, we’ve been out of pocket for the past week or so, traveling through Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi in India. It was a nice break from Kathmandu and so refreshing to be able to turn on a light and charge a battery at any point of the day or night.

In addition to the striking scenery, I also loved the bold color and spirituality of all the places we visited. I’ll get more photos posted soon, but for now wanted to share a picture of this sweet man we encountered in Udaipur. I was a little obsessed with taking photos at the Jagdish Temple there, which is a hub of bright activity in the mornings (and also the town’s soup kitchen.) This man was there every morning, circling the temple and praying.

 

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