Namaste from Kathmandu!
We have arrived safely and already experienced our first day of Nepali life in Kathmandu – the sights, the sounds and the smells are certainly not shy and my first impressions of Nepal include the bustling sounds, the intense smells and the vibrant colours!
Our experience began in the dark and quiet night of Kathmandu (Saturday is their only day off and surprisingly quiet!) as we drove though the city to reach our accommodation for the next 3 nights. After some attempts of cross-cultural communication to aid our drivers in getting us to our bed for the night, we eventually made it to our base – a wonderful and friendly guesthouse owned by some local Nepalis. They were incredibly hospitable, staying up late to wait for us, give us a tour of the guesthouse and make us tea (which we had to decline at that hour!)
After a much needed rest, we awoke to the honking of passing motorbikes and barking of dogs from the street – noises that would follow us around for the remainder of the day. Following breakfast ( tea and toast today – I am sure the daal bhat will come soon!) we walked to the Kathmandu International Church, a service for anyone working in Nepal, held at the Kathmandu International Study Centre (KISC). It definitely felt like home, yet with a lot of different accents! Following some familiar songs and hymns, shared communion and prayer, the sermon was about following and understanding God’s call, looking at Abraham’s story. It seemed God’s sense of humour had followed me on this trip as he’s obviously still wanting to teach me about His calling!!!
At church we met some of the international teachers at KISC, who kindly invited us to lunch at ‘Downtown Restaurant’, a popular eatery serving western, Chinese and Indian cuisines. I stuck with Indian and had a delicious Korma, and perhaps THE tastiest garlic naan I’ve ever had!! The tasty food would definitely be a draw card in living here one day!
After lunch we were accompanied by Aussie KISC teacher, Amanda through the streets of Kathmandu, negotiating the oncoming bustle of bicycles, motorbikes and cars and the calls to buy necklaces, brass items or food. Our Nepali word for today is
pronounced like ‘chai-day-na’ meaning “I don’t have need for that”. It seems it’s going to become pretty useful on this trip, we definitely can’t buy everything!
The streets were full of colour – whether from Buddhist pray flags, street-side vegetable sales or the local kurta fashion, it was definitely a feast for the eyes! The streets greeted us with smells of diesel, spices and smoke from daily burnt offerings but also with smiles of inquisitive passerby as I smiled back with a friendly ‘Namaste’.
Eventually we found our way into one of the many kurta shops. A ‘kurta’ is the traditional Nepal dress of a long tunic, pants and matching scarf, and just like everything in Nepal, the colours are endless and choosing just ONE was difficult! I ended up with a beautiful turquoise and brown kurta but I’m sure I’ll be getting another one tomorrow with the rest of the group! I’m definitely going to create reasons for wearing it in Sydney – so comfortable and attractive!
After a few cultural and lingual tips from Amanda, we decided we were ready (Mum and I) to fend for ourselves, and spent the afternoon exploring the temples of Patan Durbur Square. Nepal is a melting pot of religion, and the square was no different, with Hindu temples, Krishna displays and Buddhist handicrafts for sale.
Leaving with plenty of photographs, and a few gifts for home, we again negotiated the streets of Kathmandu back to our accommodation for a quick rest as we waited for the rest of the vision trip crew!
Now, all 11 of us are here and looking forward to a day of orientation with INF tomorrow and for the ladies, more kurta shopping! We’ve received a devotional book for our time together and I think the introduction to the group couldn’t be more fitting;
“We are a varied group, in age, experience and culture. Some of us have completed our formal work, some are just beginning; some are married, others are single, about to be married or widowed. Some have worked overseas, others have prayed for overseas workers for decades. Some live on the top of the world, others live upside down.”
Yet one thing we have in common is that God has called each of us to this trip and we’re all looking forward to seeing and understanding why.
So from those reading along from home, hello from all of us! Thank you for your continued prayers and we look forward to sharing our journey with you!
Below, a couple of photos from today: our welcome at the airport, church service, street sellers and my favourite from today; the colourful flags of the streets!