Mostly good updates from my eighth week here in Nepal’s capital. I’ve been quite bogged down (in a good way) with work. Kathmandu, and Nepal in general, is a writer’s paradise because there are SO many interesting things and SO many interesting people doing those interesting things. So far I’ve written about/am writing about foreign diplomats, artists, wood-workers, writers, chefs, tea experts, yoga gurus, hotel managers, athletes and more. My job as a magazine writer allows me the opportunity to meet, interview and write about all kinds of fascinating people, which is what I thrive off doing.
The monsoon is slowly abating here in Nepal, which is a blessing and a curse. I’m not a huge fan of the rains (I know, I know, I am from Portland, Oregon… But still!) so it’s nice to have some moments of hot sun shining through the rain clouds. The bad part about the slowing rains is that it means the power supply will also soon decrease. The power in Nepal is directly correlated with the rains (as far as I know) because it is made through hydroelectric plants. Without lots of water to power the hydro plants, there will be a decreased supply of electricity. Last year the power was out a maximum of 16 hours per day in the dry season and I’ve heard rumors that this year will be worse, with up to 20 hours of power cuts per day. So, there will be no rain but no power. Luckily for people living in Kathmandu (and who can afford it), many of the restaurants and cafes have generators. This means I’ll probably be living at the local coffee shop when the power is out for 20 hours per day, caffeinating and charging my electronics.
All was good on the running front until a few days ago when I started getting bad pains in what I think are the tendons on the top of my right foot. I have a tendency to push myself too fast, too hard and too much. I predict that my foot injury (please don’t be a stress fracture, please don’t be a stress fracture) is a result of too much running with not enough rest. I’ve been hobbling about for the past three days, begrudging my swollen foot, hoping that the pain will magically disappear. The timing not so great (is the timing ever great for an injury?) as the Kathmandu Marathon, of which I was planning to do the half, is coming up on October 2nd. I’m hoping that with a little rest and rehabilitation, I’ll be ok for the race. I attended this Saturday’s Hash run but, sadly, went with the walking group. Walking the Hash was nice and relaxing, but I missed the heart-pounding intensity of the running group.
Tonight I went to a book reception at the home of Pulitzer Prize winner Kai Bird, who recently released his fifth book called Crossing Mandelbaum Gate (New York Times review here). I accompanied my friend and writing mentor, Don Messerschmidt, to the event and had quite a good time meeting everyone in attendance. There were teachers, diplomats, INGO workers, bookstore owners, photo-journalists, USAID workers and number of people who had spent a large portion of their lives traveling and living abroad. Meeting everyone and listening to their stories was quite inspirational for me, as I am currently considering just what I want to do with my life (development work? journalism? living abroad? grad school?). I left the event feeling motivated and excited for both the coming year in Nepal and whatever lays ahead after that.
Before the Kai Bird event, Don and I had lunch and an interview with a spectacular Swiss woman with a fierce independent spirit named Ann-Marie. Ann-Marie came to Nepal in 1962 and stayed continuously until 1990 before returning to Switzerland. She still returns to the country every year to visit. This lady was a fountain of amazing stories. My hand was aching to keep up with her as I jotted down everything in my notebook and I recorded our whole 3 hour conversation on my iPhone. Ann-Marie came to Nepal after a stint in the Congo because she was craving more adventure before settling back down in Switzerland. She’s worked with the Swiss government, managed hotels, trekked with Nepali princesses, met famous mountain climbers and diplomats and investigated the origins of Swiss cheese making in Nepal. I left the meeting with Ann-Marie thoroughly inspired to have equally splendid adventures as she has had. If I can be like Ann-Marie, who was probably around 90 years old, with that many stories and that much wisdom, then I’ll consider my life a success.
Above: This week I revisited the Trungram Monastery located in Sankhu, Nepal, where I used to teach English to the monks three years ago. It was great to see how all the boys have grown up and improved their English skills. The above photo is Nima, who was one of the youngest monks when I arrived in 2007.
Above: This week I stood in a cave that my monk friends tell me was hollowed out of a rock in the 12th century by the famous Tibetan yogi and poet Milarepa. Supposedly Milarepa sat mediating in this very cave for 6 months.