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.
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.
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.
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)