Well Kathmandu, you have already been very kind to me!
I must admit that I left Bangalore with a heavy heart, sad to leave all my wonderful friends. I arrived in Kathmandu on a grey and drizzly afternoon, not at all far removed from what I recall of my native climate! It felt so much colder here too and I remember shivering, teeth rattling uncontrollably on my first night while I slowly defrosted under the thick quilted duvet of my new bed. It was also a slight shock to be in that same situation of arriving alone in a new city again, not knowing how to get around and having to build up my connections from scratch! Luckily for me, Bangalore friends came to my aid and I was given some really great contacts so it wasn’t long before one person led me to another and another and so and so forth!
READ-Nepal where I am now working is a small NGO specialising in rehabilitation and advocacy for leprosy affected people. We are based on the Tilganga approach to the Pashupatinath temple, one of the world’s most significant Shiva temples and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll spot us by our blue fronted shop and cyber café, usually with our READ-Nepal Leprosy Centre jeep outside which was donated by the Netherlands Leprosy Relief charity. Behind the shop we have an office, drop-in clinic with a full-time nurse and part-time doctor, small residence for the most vulnerable beneficiaries, a garden and ducks! My work here is generally in a management capacity and I have much to learn; I’ve already written my first proposal and a fundraising strategy so let’s hope it works! It’s a difficult time for many NGO’s at the moment, especially with so much competition for funding!
(Just to let you know, we have started a READ-Nepal blog: readleprosycentre.wordpress.com, for more information see our website read-nepal.org or find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Read-Nepal-Leprosy-Centre/531665653592516 . If you are thinking of doing a fundraising event and would like to support us at READ-Nepal please get in touch with me at email@example.com )
I’m living in an area of Kathmandu with a high Tibetan population and a 20 minute walk from my house is a huge Buddhist Stupa at Boudhanath, also a World Heritage Site, which is surrounded by a number of Buddhist monasteries. It’s a beautiful, white dome shaped structure topped with golden crown and Buddha’s Eyes of Wisdom peer down from four sides. The stupa actually lies on an ancient trade route from Tibet and has been a point of prayer and meditation for centuries. Buddhist visitors circumnavigate the stupa in a clockwise direction whilst spinning the many wooden prayer wheels.
On 16th March we celebrated Holi here and it was surely a day I will never be able to forget. I was invited to perform with DJ Kichaa, a friend of a friend in B’lore, in Kathmandu’s Basantapur Durbar Square (www.facebook.com/kichaamusic). I got there early to reach before the crowds but in about five minutes was already covered in powdered paint. The square filled fast and by late morning a mass of over ten thousand people were gathered in full festival spirit! The view from the stage was incredible and I tried not to stand there gawping open-mouthed since we were on TV, but I was quite lost for words!
So, not a bad start to my time here in Kathmandu. I get the feeling there is much more to come!