Half of my heart belongs to Nepal and even after 22 years, I still want to go back.
This is not the story of today, neither of a few years back. This story dates back to nearly two decades ago when I first visited Nepal. Probably, most of the people reading this now were either enjoying their awesome childhood or not even born. I made many precious memories in Nepal from my four visits. I was not trekking or climbing there and still, there was a lot to see and experience. Half of my heart belongs to Nepal and even after 22 years, I still want to go back.
Nepal came to my life through a teacher in Polytechnic where I was studying. He organized a four weeks visit for 30 people to Nepal in 1995. I was 24 years old at that. The trip was planned with the aim of understanding the culture and making some connections there but I was totally unaware that I was going to lock my heart there forever.
After that, in the year 1996, I made my second trip to Nepal with my friends to prepare thesis related to the business of Nepal and Finland together. The third one (in 1997) was a 5-weeks trip with 11 students from Finland. They did their thesis also about Nepal.
My first and second trip was really a roller-coaster of feelings during which I felt happiness, love, sadness, hope, frustrations and all shades of feelings. I got to understand different cultures, the struggle of people, their love, respect, and friendliness. During my training period, I learned that Nepalese people are hard working. They work many hours a day and are still happy. I could not do it myself. I have still a lot to learn from Nepalese. During my stay in Nepal, I realized that this economically poor country is so rich in its nature, culture, people, and life. Nepalese people are unique, kind and strong people. They thread you like you were part of their family. Every time I visited in Nepal I learned something new about myself and life. I cried every time when I left from Nepal back to Finland. Altogether, I got the chance of a lifetime to swing on the spiral of life.
A lot happened during my visits to Nepal. But the main experience which remains in my heart was in Nagarkot 1995. I waked up in the morning from my cottage. I opened the door and this amazing view was in front of my eyes. I was above the clouds and the sun was rising. For the first time in my life, I felt I belong to this nature and all my worries were washed away. There are such little moments while traveling which changes our realization about our own existence and our perception of reality.
I was also lucky in the year 2013 when I traveled to Nepal again for two months in order to complete a training. That time I was studying upholstery and stayed in Kathmandu and only visited Gorka by bus.
The street kids were my weakest point. I gave them money, food, and hotel to stay. Even took them to centers where people take care of street kids, Cwin, was one organization. But they came back to the street. So I learned not to give them anything but support organizations to help them. When I was in pain after realizing what street kids do and then one Nepalese said to me ” Don’t you believe that there is also someone in “heaven” who takes care of street kids too?” After that my pain started to calm down. And I realized that by myself I can’t do much but through organizations, I can help. I was amazed to see fewer street kids in 2013 than in years 1995-1997.
I also learned few things about Nepalese lifestyle and how they do their day to day activities. Like, I learned to be patient in traveling, ordering food, waiting for people to come to meetings etc. I learned that most of the people there talk about distance in traveling in time, not in kilometers. It takes a long time to go over hills where there are no vehicles for transportation. So it’s convenient to talk about time rather than kilometers. Once there was a strike on the way to Pokhara from Kathmandu. We waited hours to go over one bridge. Finally, we got through and it was late evening when we got to Pokhara. I also sensed that Nepalese people respect everything. They are at the same time Buddhist and Hindus.
Overall, I got what I planned and even more. I got good friends, ” a second home to my heart” and learned a lot about life. I am so fascinated about Nepal that I don’t even dream to go anywhere else. I just wait the right moment to go back again. There is so much to see and experience though I haven’t seen much. This writing makes me want to go back immediately but I can’t now. But in my dreams, I sometimes visit in Nepal.
Here are some of the photos I captured during my visit to Nepal but these are not with high resolution. I didn’t have any SLR camera back then and all the photos were captured with the vintage camera we used to have at that time.