I dedicate this post to all my Nepali Friends & Family who have opened my heart and mind with your smiles & innocent resilence heart emoticon heart emoticon heart emoticon
One (of the many!) things I enjoy when I am in Nepal is the smiles – they are not automatic responses but alive, gorgeously unique movies that start with the eyes. A twinkle of recognition that you have ‘met’ followed by the whole face coming alive in warmth and openness – even if you are simply passing strangers in the street. These smiles - from children, elders and everyone in between - never fail to uplift my day and add a spring to my step.
Along with these smiles comes frequent acceptance of “what is”. Ever since my first visit to Nepal 20 years ago I have been witness to a wide number of obstacles that have befallen the country - yet again and again I hear the refrain “ke karne?”(What to do?) said with a smile. People simply get on with life and make the best of whatever limited circumstances currently prevail.
At present circumstances are challenging by anyone’s measure! Not only has the country experienced a massive 7.9 earthquake less than 6 months ago leaving more than a million people in temporary shelters and thousands of schools destroyed - also now Nepal is in the midst of a complicated political process that has resulted in this landlocked country having its main border with India closed preventing essential supplies (fuel, medicines, food items & more) coming in. I will not go into the political issues aside from saying it is both complicated and involves two super powered neighbours!
Currently the lines of buses/trucks/taxis waiting for fuel snake along the side of roads for 2 or 3 kms, the drivers patiently waiting and drinking chya (tea) as the days pass and no fuel arrives. I heard today there was a possibility of gas cylinder refills – the line for this numbered close to 4000 people. In truth a small number compared to the approximately million households in the Kathmandu valley alone who use gas for all their cooking needs. Many homes and restaurants are resorting to burning wood fires to cook and small electric induction stoves are fetching 5 times their normal price. Oh and one must remember that electricity is not a 24hr easy access – load shedding (rolling brownouts) occur year round as there is not enough electricity to supply demand. Sometimes the daily electric supply is only 6 hrs in a 24 hrs period !! Oh and I should also add water is also a scarce resource in the capital, most households relying on deliveries by trucks (currently very limited due to the fuel crisis) for their daily needs.
Yet despite all these challenges the smiles are constant! Perhaps even a bit wider with the challenges, because what else can you do except accept?! The festival of Dashain these next days will be celebrated, when families and friends come together and cook, eat and rejoice – sharing blessings with one another for health & prosperity.
I am sure even more smiles will abound the next days as the festival atmosphere of celebration overshadows the day-to-day reality of limitations. The resilient Nepali spirit shining through, reminding me why I love this country and the people so much!!
The next days I will be celebrating the Dashain festival with our children, at Bhaktapur Children home in Sipadol village – I am sure of much laughter and smiles to light my days and encourage my dreams that life is hopeful no matter how it may seem!
Truly I feel blessed by my time here in Nepal – every single visit nourishes my soul deeply & profoundly! Even though there are challenges here in Nepal - and in truth there can be unsafe aspects with the buildings post earthquake – in general I can wholeheartedly encourage visitors to come and find their own impressions & perhaps you may also find your heart ensnared by the innocent open smiles I know so well and discover you have to repeatedly visit!