The Faces of Pokhara

Hello lovely people,

I’ve officially completed my volunteering here in Nepal. I’m happy to have finished my project but I am left wanting to do more. I had conflicting feelings coming here. In undergrad/gradschool I learned a lot about policy, community development and specifically the impositions of the western world onto “underdeveloped” countries. Part of me felt that I would become that imposition by intervening with a culture the I knew very little of.

Thank yous…

I first was exposed to the South Asian community in high school when I volunteered at a women’s shelter. That is actually what initially gave me the idea to do social work. It was not until 2013 when I had a community development internship in a government housing community, that I began to really understand some of the South Asian cultures; and fell in love with the community of women. I have been fortunate enough to also be mentored by very passionate people who offered such insight that I continue to use today (shout out to Joanne, Neil, Evan, Anuja, Pila, Lucrecia, Jaime, Kavita and Tara if you are reading!) All of them in different ways taught me a lot about domestic and cultural violence, community development, community engagement and volunteering abroad. They have each individually inspired me to be who I am personally and professionally today and collectively pushed me to come here. They also showed me the ways in which community service can be altruistic if done in a particular way, and thank you for showing me that way.

A word of advice…

I came here with an open mind, a willingness to give, but more specifically, a willingness to be utilized in whatever ways that the community needed me. My offer of advice to anyone who wants to volunteer abroad, is to recognize that volunteering is selfish in many ways, understand how self-validating and question our feelings of reward, and then ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Giving is a reciprocal process of gain and give, and at times, we may gain more than we give. Remember what the purpose is for, and do not complain when you are not using your skills in the ways that you expected to. Do not feel humbled because you feel better off, feel humbled because you are learning so much more from people that you never would have previously. Learn the lessons of every situation, do not dwell on the negative aspects of it. Do not assume you know more, because you don’t. Let them lead you, and you offer what you know. Do not feel shy to get dirty and live locally, it will probably be the best thing you ever do.

On that note, live locally. I don’t think any traveling experience that I have had thus far comes close; not even that time I lived in Italy to learn Italian, even then it did not feel this way. Thank you to the Gurung family for giving me that experience. Not gonna lie, I cried leaving, and laughed hard reading your goodbye notes haha. Finally, (thanks Vivek!) learn to trust people; don’t assume every stranger is going to have bad intentions hahaha.

The paradise called Pokhara…

This week I had the opportunity to kick back a few beers in a paradise called Pokhara. I was there a couple of days before meeting up with my two friends at our guest house. Having the opportunity to be alone for the first time since arriving in Nepal was much needed. I rented a bike and took off, allowing myself to stop and talk to anyone who I had a good feeling about. As a result I had the randomest week ever. Here are the highlights of some memorable encounters. Enjoy!

 

Sarangkot (2 of 9)

A Tibetan refugee Dolma. She came over as a young child, being carried by her mother and since cannot leave Nepal. She also cannot get a Nepali passport so essentially she is stuck here. She’s been hand making Tibetan jewelry for 30 years and has someone cross the border to bring in materials that she buys. She sells independently and you can find her by Lakeside East.

Sarangkot (4 of 9)

Musician Prem has been playing the Nepali Sarangi his whole life. His father and grandfather were also musicians and taught him what he knows. He hand carved this Sarangi and taught me to play the scale by the Phewa lake. When not selling instruments, he plays in his band.

Sarangkot (5 of 9)

After biking uphill to Seti River Gorge, I met Ram who stands at the end, inviting tourists to take photos with him. He then asks you to mail him a copy of the photo so he can add it to his collection (you can see behind him), a collection he’s been doing for lord knows how long. He has one black and white photo of his mother doing this, so that gives you an idea of how long haha. He then invited me to his home which is right beside the river and introduced me to his farm animals and family.

Sarangkot (9 of 9)

Saroj is a hotel manager at the guesthouse that I stayed at. Originally from Chitwan, he is very passionate about his job and it shows when he interacts with anyone who comes in. Knowing that I was alone for a couple of days, he offered to show me Begnas Lake during his break. He took me where only locals swam and even let me drive on the motorbike. You can see behind Nepali children bathing.

Sarangkot (7 of 9)

The Dutch couple, aka Camiel and Lizzy, who met up with me in Pokhara. If ever you had doubts that soul-mates existed, just have dinner with these two. They are looking at the amazing view of Pokhara from the World Peace Pagoda

Sarangkot (8 of 9)

Me taking a solo swim in Begnas Lake looking at the waterfall.

DCIM100GOPRO

Meet Vince, the most frightening yet funny pilot and person you will ever meet. Funny in that he told me his company has killed 19 people in their history of running. Yah, really funny. The real answer was zero by the way. Vince is originally from France and he has been paragliding for over 10 years now. He currently is training to Base Jump.

Here are some more photos taken…

Sarangkot (3 of 9)

The view of Phewa Lake and the boating dock.

Sarangkot (6 of 9)

Walking through Gupta Cave was beautiful but so terrifying.

Sarangkot (1 of 9)

On my bike ride I randomly decided to go through the farming communities and took this shot of locals drying out their clothes in the sun

Sarangkot

And then there is the view of the Annapurna Himalaya range…the reason why you travel to Pokhara and wake up in the middle of the night to see.

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