We sadly left Pokhara the next morning for our short half-hour flight back to Kathmandu. The plane was bigger and better than the last flight from Jomson but still not a jet. I had mixed feelings about returning. Yes, I was excited to be finished with the trek and shortly returning home to my husband and two young children (4 and 6 years old…still that delightful, imaginative age where they cuddle, laugh and think I’m the best!). Yet, I was very sad because I knew that we would soon be saying goodbye to Hari and Chhring, who we had spent the last two weeks inseparable—- laughing, learning and sharing our different worlds. Our goodbye to Chhring came sooner. He was headed home to his village via an eight hour bus ride, followed by six hours hiking up to his remote village where his young wife and baby awaited his return.
We waited for our flight in the crammed, smoky departure lounge of the small Pokhara airport. I was thirsty and wanted to purchase a Sprite but just couldn’t do it when I learned it cost $4. I had spent too much time in Nepal! But there were some things that I had to remind myself of the importance of using that “third eye”. Like the dirty, fly-infested women’s bathroom inside the Pokhara airport. It wasn’t the hole in the ground that made me cringe. After two weeks with rarely a western toilet in sight, that didn’t bother me anymore. It was the other thing I noticed. The dirty, used syringes lying naked on the floor. I chose to look the other way but it really brought everything I learned and saw in Nepal back to home. Remember the third eye!
The flight was nice and smooth and soon we returned to the same vibrant green rice terraces and the low-lying coating of smog that covers Kathmandu Valley like a blanket. We were welcomed at the airport by Hari’s wife, son, uncle and niece, with a Namaste and of course a marigold necklace. It was such an honor to meet his family. The only regret was that we couldn’t speak the same language. We wanted to tell them how wonderful Hari is and how much we love Nepal. Hopefully our warm, glowing smiles made them understand what words could not say.
The seven of us all piled into Hari’s uncle’s small sedan with four of us smashed in the back and three in the front. This is not something I would do at home but it is quite common in Nepal where cars are expensive and safety standards are much different. It was an uncomfortable ride back in the insane traffic and driving madness of Kathmandu. It was still the festival so more people than ever were out and about, shopping, visiting family and hitting the roads in jam-packed, overflowing buses headed off to the villages. We arrived at Hari’s neighborhood an hour later to see his pride and joy: His cybercafé. Hari had spent three years working in Dubai in order to save enough money to start his business and it was a major accomplishment for a 28-year-old Nepali. Unfortunately he is having a tough go at running the business since the government has daily electricity shutdowns of sometimes up to 6 hours in order to conserve energy. As a developing country, Nepal does not have enough power to keep the country going so they have to turn it off. It doesn’t reflect well on running a business that’s for sure but it sadly is a way of life. Nepal desperately needs better infrastructure so they can move ahead like their neighbors India and South Korea who are booming. But it never seems to happen.
We took our final snapshots of us together at our hotel and said our goodbyes. It was very touching because Hari had secretly bought my children a gift. He gave me one pink and one red handmade Nepali journal made with rice paper and a hand-woven bag for each child. I was very humbled by his gift. He wanted my children to have something special from Nepal. And they did.
Here is a beautiful picture of Hari and his family in Kathmandu:
Inside Hari’s cybercafe, Kathmandu:
The blessing of the cow on the streets of Kathmandu: