2012 Study Tour: Hello from Kathmandu!
Hello and a Happy New Year from Kathmandu! We've been here only a week but it feels like months. We've done and seen so much that it feels impossible to distil my experiences into a single blog post. In short it's been a sensory and emotional overload. The streets of Kathmandu are as you would imagine - narrow, colourful, rambling, loud and chaotic. But strangely there's an amazing sense of calm and order in that chaos; not once have I felt concerned or unsafe on the streets here. Even though the roads are teeming with people and motorbikes and cars and bicycles all tooting their horns and weaving in between one another, it's all done with a cheery disposition. You never get the sense that anyone is anxious or aggressive. They just go with the flow and it works.
Nepalese people are renowned for being friendly and cheerful and that definitely seems to be true. They have an infectiously warm and positive nature. Their lives don't revolve around working, they are centred around family and community. Although these people might be 'poor' by western standards they seem truly happier. This might sound flippant and naive but it really does seem that the simpler your life is the happier you can be. As humans (particularly westerners) we find it so hard to be content, but having less opportunities, lofty ambitions or obsession with material goods can be somewhat liberating.
Poverty is another thing, and there are definitely degrees of poverty and injustice that just aren't good through any lens. The work that Seven Women are doing here is aimed at instances of extreme poverty and discrimination. Women with disabilities are hugely discriminated against over here, since the Nepalese belief is that these women committed sins in a previous life. We've had the pleasure of meeting some of the women that are now living and/or working at the Seven Women centre and they are truly lovely. I had such a fantastic time working beside these women teaching them how to make some new products.
I could prattle on for ages, but instead I'm just going to fill the rest of this post with pictures!
The view from our hotel rooftop. Marigolds are everywhere here. Working with Kumari and Selena on some new products at the Seven Women centre
Pink house with matching pink creeper - very Kathmandu!
A group of women making felt ball mats at the fair trade felt factory
Felt balls drying in the sun
A woman rolls felt balls at the fair trade felt factory
Walking down from Nargacot we visited this small rural village
Village children with their homemade street luge! (photo by Annelise Hickey)
Rural farmland on the hillside
Love this tiny rural farmhouse with it's goats, chickens and cows in the yard
View from the rooftop of our hotel in Bhaktapur
One of many, MANY fabric stores I've seen here. Lots of tailors too. How fashion should be.
Hope to write more soon! xx