02 March, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Foreigner's Bowl

Sorry for the long delay since our last update, but here in Nepal, there are only 8-hours of power per day. It's easy to get frustrated with that reality, but then I have to remind myself that I don't live here, and it's not me that's really inconvenienced, but the Nepalis who rely on power for much more than writing a blogpost...

We flew into Kathmandu from Delhi on Friday, and stayed in the capital city until this morning when we took a 7-hour bus ride (only 200 km!) to Nepal's 2nd biggest city, Pokhara. We were received at the bus station by radio friend, Laura's dear friend, Prem. He works here as a trekking/tour guide and looks a little like a young Nepali Elvis. In a bit, Shira and I are going to eat dinner, dhaal bat (a rice, lentil, and vegetable dish that most Nepalis litterally eat for every meal)with Prem and his wife and their baby boy at his apt. And then in a week or two, Prem is gonna take Shira and I on a 17-day trek in the Annapurna region, just outside Pokhara. We'll likely walk the Jomsom and Annapurna Base Camp trails.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy our three-dollar a night hotel room right on the lake and take some day trips/hikes/excursions in the area.

But first, some noteworthy India stuff.

Much of our last days in India were spent in Kodaikanal, as I mentioned in the last post. Towards the end of our stay we met a really fun and sweet American couple at a Tibetan restaurant I couldn't get enough of. The four of us decided to venture out on a long walk to a supposedly gorgeous lookout in an area called Pillars Rock. When we got there though it was so overcast that we couldn't really see anything except the local red-faced monkeys fighting over any scrap of human food/human food container they could get there hands on. After having posed with random Indian families wanting to take a picture with Americans, Shira and I and the couple we were with were talking outside an area where tea and t-shirts were sold. At one point I looked to my left to see an older Indian man standing in our conversation circle, nodding his head in acknowledgement, as if he had been there for the whole time. Naturally, he asked us where we were from, and when he learned we were American, he told us about his son who used to work for GM in Detroit! I was so excited to make the connection, then even more excited when his son came sauntering up with the rest of his family to greet us. The older man was so gracious and told us that it was "his duty to welcome us." Then he bought Shira and I two cups of chai tea and put his arm around me like he was my grandpa.

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India was really amazing and perplexing and idiosyncratic that it's hard to sum up in this post. Spending what seems like a long time (5-weeks) in a foreign place isn't the way to get to know it fully. Instead, my observations and thoughts are fragmented and confused. I knew next to nothing about India before landing there, but now, after having spent some time there, it feels like I know even less in a way. The country is developing so fast and is dealing with so many big issues; its relationship with Pakistan, its crowded cities, its still present caste system, its gender roles, its widening gap between rich and poor, its balancing act between tradition and modernity... To me, these are just concepts that were in small ways illustrated during my time there, but for Indians, they're obviously much more. I think the main thing I learned in India is how important Michigan and Detroit and of course all of you are to me. Shira and I have met so many travelers so far that seem to disavow where they came from. But conversely, we both feel, even more so now, a real pride and commitment to our own roots.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog. Keep writing!
Love,
Dad

2:15 PM  
Blogger NTriest said...

It's been a while since I've followed your travels.
I so enjoy reading about where you are and how you are experiencing things.
I look forward to a picture show when you both arrive home.
I think of you often.

Stay safe and have a Happy Purim.

Love,

The auntie and now Safta:)

10:13 PM  
Blogger DeDe said...

CHAG PURIM SAMEACH..

loving to follow your journey through your blog

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Allo said...

I made this soupe recipe for our dinner tonight. So so good! Thanks for this great recipe. I am trying to be creative with pasta dishes and love recipes like this

3:29 PM  

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