Nepali homecoming.

Holy water at Swayambhunath Stupa

It was still dark outside this morning when my wristwatch alarm chirped at 5:00 a.m. I slipped into trail runners and running pants and performed my now-habitual yogic drinking wake-up exercise (chugging water in a squat) careful not to wake, Sangita, my new Nepali roommate. By 5:10, I was winding my way through Kirtipur’s sleepy alleys and garden paths.

Chobar

Kirtipur was just beginning to wake up. People violently cleared their throats and spat off rooftop balconies (Nepal’s version of the rooster crow. If you are Nepalese, you have to cleanse your sinus passageways. Loudly. Every morning. Before 6 a.m.)

I passed women filling buckets at the community tap and men drinking steaming shots of chai. Shopkeepers started to hang bunches bananas in their windows and university students strolled to campus with Hindi filmi songs blasting from cell phones in their pockets.

This morning I was making the steep uphill climb to Chobar, one of the most holy temples in Kathmandu Valley that also happens to be about 45 minutes from campus. It seemed all of Kirtipur joined me on this morning jog; the closer I got to the top, the more crowded Chobar’s rocky dirt path became.

Sunrise over Kathmandu Valley

Almost to the top, the man in front of me paused. He looked out into the valley. Doing as the locals do, I turned around and my breath caught. The sun shyly peaked her nose around the Himalayas. All Kathmandu was gilded in orange. Nearby, women prayed, men breathed their way through pranayam, and prayer wheels jangled softly. Together we watched the same sunrise, but saw a different view. I saw a day that began with a journey. I saw a new familiarity.

As I stood next to the fifty-something man in his blue and white 80s warm-up jacket, I felt home.

“Little Gidding”

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

–T.S. Eliot (courtesy of Austin Totty)

Prayers

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नेपाल Anthropologia/A day in Kirtipur.

Room with a view: a Kirtipur morning.

Newfound homeland/room.

Daal Baat #1

5:00 am            wake up to rooftop yoga and the sunrise over Kathmandu.

7:00 am            breakfast in bed with my sweet roommate, Sangita.

7:35 am            open the window and sigh. ah! mist and dew over the Himalayas!

8:00 am            learn about contemporary Nepali issues like religion, ethnicity, and politics from various Tribhuvan University (the one and only university in Nepal) professors with quirky English accents and interesting mustaches.

10:00 am            daal baat #1. chew yogically (at least 35 times.) sit in vajrasana. massage of the pancreas and liver to improve digestion.

11:00 am            Nepali language class.

12:34 pm            still, Nepali language class.

1:29 pm            what else but Nepali language class?

2:16 pm            brain becomes chai tea in Nepali language class.

3:00 pm            death by Nepali language class.

4:00 pm            learn yoga from a little Nepali man who sounds like a fairy and is named Shiva (the Destroyer.)

6:00 pm            explore Kirtipur. bum a piece of pineapple off of hajuraamaa, my new friend, a little old lady down the street and talk to her about my husband (she still refuses to accept I am not married…it’s not just the language barrier.)

7:00 pm            daal baat #2.  Attempt to beat daal baat #1 chew quota.

8:00 pm            have hilariously bi-lingual conversations with Sangita, Anju, Prem, Laxmi, and Rajaram. become lost in translation. optional henna tatooing.

8:45pm            cram Nepali words and phrases in to the mind. fall asleep while attempting to conjugate verbs.

10:48 pm            cozy in to bed. obligatory pinch…is this real? how did I get this lucky?

10:53 pm            sigh. life is one beautiful, exquisite possibility.

Sangita and me at Pashupati Temple in Kathmandu during Teej Jatra (festival)

From yoga to the ‘mandu

Our "turd eyes" were happy and enlightened at graduation.

So I graduated. From yoga school. And Guruji actually smiled (see picture.)

Twelve hours later, I said goodbye to Ashram Life and namaste to the land of Mt. Everest, prayer flags, and Sherpas: Nepal. I’ve been in Kirtipur, a small hill town about fifteen minutes outside Kathmandu, for a little over a week. And I’ve fallen in love.

By the end of yoga school, my body needed to rest from six hours of exercise a day and my mind was hungry to start research; Nepal is the jar of Ayurvedic medicine that is restoring my soul.