Two and a half weeks in a totally different world, full of bright colors, strong smells ... and wonderful people. I spent a very large part of the time with my "family", yes, it really feels that I have family there now:
There is Shekhar, who is now director of "my" preschool in Imadole, a suburb of Kathmandu (see www.kinderhaus-lalitpur.com), and his wife Sujana (a superb cook and the academic director of the school), and their little son Sudhan.
I meanwhile have a loooong history with Shekhar, we've been friends for almost 20 years - ever since we met during my first trip to Nepal, a Langtang-trek, when he worked at the reception of my hotel in KTM. Two years ago we founded the school together and it is now running well with 29 children from nursery to UKG (upper kindergarden) classes.
For me it was the first time to be in KTM during the big holidays and I hadn't expected that the impact of the 15-day rituals would be quite as extensive: the city was practically empty, the traffic was so sparse that it seemed to be "bandh" (total shut-down of traffic due to political strike actions, something which happens regularly) - a very high percentage of the population seemed to have fled the city! With the wonderful result that there was much less dust and exhaust fumes ... which hit us just the harder on the last few weeks of my stay when life in this megalopolis turned back to normal.
Due to the many rituals and the family-orientation of the holiday I couldn't really meet my artist friends for quite a while. So I got to participate in rituals at our house, such as the "vehicle puja", when both the trusty little motorcycle and the school-van were blessed:
And we actually went on a small vacation with the family to Pokhara, 200km (but a full day's drive) from KTM, on lovely lake Phewa, where we enjoyed clean air, great food, boat-rides on the like, a fine hotel, and watched for hours as the paragliders took off for tandem jumps high up on the hill above Lakeside. And I changed my opinion: after a steadfast "no" to this suicidal seeming endeavour I might now try to jump myself on one of my following visits!
After the holidays were over I shifted to my beloved TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL (www.tingsblog.com) to be able to move around town more independently and I DID get to meet most of my artist friends. After an extensive studio visit there was a yummy lunch with my Kasthamandap Artist Collective friends at Bricks Restaurant, thanks Asha/Erina/Pramila/ Bhairaj/Binod for always being there for me ...
And I got to see many more artists like e.g. Chirag/ Bidhata/Hitmaan/Mekh/Saroj/Mahima, visited the brandnew Kathmandu City Museum with its clean-line architecture, the new Childrens Art Museum, several galleries, enjoyed helping with a fundraising event for Bikalpa Art Center ... and ... and .. (more pics here: www.nepalnow.net/2014-ktm).
I still haven't quite figured out why I am so happy in Kathmandu: it certainly has to do with the warmth (both climate-wise with 23-30 centigrade and much sun every day but also the warmth of the people extended towards me), the chaos (which is absolutely maddening at times but also great fun), the good food, the wonderful encounters and the general sense of "ke garne" or "what can we do", a shoulder-shrugging attitude that takes a lot of stress out of life - while it also can be maddening at times when things just don't seem to get done!
But for me being in KTM is ONE BIG EXERCISE IN SURRENDER - surrendering to not being able to control the schedule of the day, surrendering to not having electricity when you need it, surrendering to just being... and that does me good! Much good. I relax, I rest, I don't take myself so seriously, I let go of any (or at least most!!!) attempts to control. And I am better for it ... and happier.
Now the big question is: HOW TO HOLD ON TO THIS IN MY EVERYDAY LIFE?!?!
Beata, all-round encourager:: of art and artists of Nepal, of a preschool in Kathmandu, of the great work of encouragement based on Adlerian psychology and the Theo Schoenaker's concept!