Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sweet Sorrow

I'm back in Kathmandu now, having left Pokhara yesterday afternoon.

I'm not that familiar with too many cultures (Cleveland OH, rural MN--see what I mean) but I'd have to say that as far as farewells go, it'd be hard to beat the Nepalese. They always make you feel like the very most important visitor ever to grace their presence. It's remarkable.

Two nights ago I walked over to Sam's House to say goodnight to the children and the didis. When I made to leave, the didis sat me down in a chair for giving me tika, which is a customary blessing made with red dye on your forehead. They also had prepared a tray of sweets for me to enjoy--logdu (which they fed me personally), grapes and a Kit-Kat chocolate bar. Then they each said how grateful they were to have a new job and they each gave me a single gift, paid for by their meager (by our standards, not theirs) Sam's House salaries. It's enough to make you weep.

Then I went back to the Rajbhandaris for yet another awesome meal with peanut masala, prawn chips, chicken chili and dal bhaat. Rekha actually said she'd been too busy to make something special during my visit, which seemed incredible to me since every night was a treat. Ritesh gave me a chocolate bar as a farewell treat.

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As you can see in the pictures, Nabina Pun (poon) has joined us at Sam's House. She was living with her grandmother in Pokhara since last year when her mother went abroad to find work. No one has heard from her since. Her father was killed a year and a half ago when his taxi (he drove them) ran over a Maoist mine. Nabina's grandmother is quite ill and she knew that she needed to make arrangements for Nabina before it was too late.

The day Nabina arrived, her grandmother was completing paperwork with Dinesh (which she had to sign with a thumbprint). I watched Nabina's face as they started to talk about the grandmother leaving. Nabina's face just melted. It was so sad. She didn't make any sound but her eyes filled with tears and they poured down her cheeks. As consolation, her grandmother took her to a playground one more time before returning to Sam's House. I'm happy to report that Nabina is quite happy and running around with Pratima and Manju in the yard.

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I'm back at the Hotel Tibet, at the opposite end of the hall from my pre-Pokhara meltdown. Thank goodness.

Today there's another bandh so I'm planning a walk to Swayambhunath with Anita Rai. After that some brief shopping in those stores brave enough to open today.

There's lots more to share but I'll have to wait until next week when I'm back in Mo-town.

Thanks for all your notes and comments and kind wishes.

CB

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