In just a few days here, my body has adapted to the local climate, needing to wear less layers. Since it is winter in Nepal, it is cold (7 degC or 45 degF) in the early mornings but it gets warmer (10 degC or 50 degF) in the afternoons. It is actually surprisingly warmer in Takure than it was in Kathmandu. I really enjoyed the peaceful vibe in the village. I felt alive and peaceful. Becoming attuned to the natural rhythms of the day, waking up at sunrise and going to bed after the sun sets. Here, the sun rises at 6.30am and sets around 5pm. Dinner is at 6.30pm and some of us would play card games until 8 or 9pm and then turn in. Every night, before dinner, the tradition is to have a round of “gratitude” sharing session with each person sharing what they feel grateful for. I’ve since learnt that gratitude is a powerful emotion. When you’re feeling grateful, it helps to build positive emotions and resilience in your daily life. It is beneficial for both the person giving thanks as well as the ones receiving it.
Before this trip, I was in a state of mental chaos and confusion. During the stay in the village and living amidst nature, my nervous system calmed down somewhat but my mind was still in a state of chaos. I felt conflicted and uncertain of what to do next. This trip was a temporary escape from my work life and all that busyness. I guess in a way, going to Nepal is a sort of pilgrimage for me, visiting the boudhanath stupa and pashupatinath temple (more on this later). To give myself the time and space for reflection. To figure out how to build a life that I don’t have to escape from.
Every single day here, we’re putting our body and muscles to work doing manual labour. It’s a good way to relieve stress. Nepal being in the Himalayas has some of the highest mountain range in the world, with Mount Everest being the highest mountain at 8,800m above sea level. The Takure village is at 1,400m. A simple walk up the hill here left me breathless but it’s a much needed exercise.
I’ve briefly mentioned in my earlier post that meals served in the camp are vegetarian. That’s because the camp is hosted by members of the Brahmin and Chhetri castes of Hinduism hence they abstain from meat and alcohol to show respect for their beliefs. And also, it can get too messy keeping and preparing meat in the kitchen. If I recall correctly, there isn’t a fridge at the camp so storage of meat would be an issue. Electricity and power is a precious resource so they have to be conscious of the items they possess at the camp. The meals were delicious and suits me very well. Most of the time, we get roti, dhal bhat and some side dishes. Sometimes they would have chilli in it and it is super spicy if I accidentally bit into a chilli.
I’ve learnt from my Nepalese friends that within the village itself, there are different ethnic groups and castes. Some of them are Newar and Tamang (of Tibetan descent).
At 3pm, we would get snacks of beans, peanut and roasted rice with coconut flakes. Sometimes there would be potatoes for snack.
Ok back to today’s post. It is the second last day at Conscious Impact camp.
The project we would be working on is to construct a shelter for one of the locals to grow mushrooms. It’s co-funded by Conscious Impact so that the farmers would have a sense of belonging and ownership over it. We would be using some of the bamboos we harvested to build the structure. This project is led by Kumary and her team. We were transported to the place via a 4×4 jeep driven by Orion. A few of us sat at the back of the jeep, which was a dusty and bumpy ride but worth it for the scenic views.
Once we’ve arrived at our destination, we set to work immediately, carrying loads of the equipment and materials like bamboo, strings, etc. First we measured the bamboo poles, then we spilt them.
This is a view of our workplace – the most amazing “office” view ever!
After a few hours of labour, we stopped for lunch. A Nepalese family nearby served us lunch. They gave us huge heapings of rice, veggies and dhal. It was too much rice but it isn’t polite to reject the food once they’ve scoop it onto your plate. It’s also Nepali custom & part of their hospitality that you’ll always be offered to sit on cushions, foam or straw mats. They will never let you sit on cold, bare floors so that your butt will be kept warm. Meals are eaten with their hands but I used cutlery. Oh and you’re supposed to use the right hand instead of the left.
Kumary made some candies out of lapsi – a small fruit that looks like plums and are grown locally. It has a sourish taste and is a bit like the hawthorn candies we have in Singapore. I like it!
After lunch, we continued with the building of the structure, tying strips of bamboo to the poles and completed it with shade material and a plastic sheet for cover.
To show gratitude, the owner gave us some snacks (muruku, beans and dried rice flakes). We also had some fruit called Amla (Indian Gooseberry). They look like green grapes and are sour in taste.
From left : Kumary, Aaishma and myself
Then we returned to the camp in the jeep. It was our team’s turn to cook dinner tonight. I quickly showered and went to the kitchen to start preparing the dinner. We’re making Mexican styled tacos using rotis. Luckily the bathroom has gas heated hot showers. I did not expect to have hot baths up in the mountains so I think it’s a luxury. There are two bathroom stalls. One of them has an open jungle view.
6 new volunteers arrived today and they were introduced during the gratitude session after dinner. All of them are very young Nepali girls who are on school holiday. They will be joining Sushmita tomorrow for the school painting project. I was feeling very tired so I turned in early. The rest of them played card games.