The People You Meet

You know when you meet people who, when you part, make you think Wow, he or she was just so awesome, and you know that in many years you will still remember him or her even if your time together was as short as a hour-long conversation? I felt that way about many people during my travels through Nepal. And as I travel more and more, I have come to realize that it’s the people that shape my memory of a place.

In my last post, I mentioned Bika, the 16 year-old henna artist who dreams of moving abroad and the German farmer, who arrived with only the clothes on his back, some books, a sleeping bag and plans to walk around Nepal for 4 months. And then there was an American nurse volunteering in a clinic in East Nepal with so much random knowledge, and a Texan practicing-Buddhist (but not a Buddhist), who has been on the road for the past 2 years carrying 2 small backpacks. In Pokhora, Feven and I spent a perfect day around town with a British lad, whose eyebrows raised 2 inches above his eyes every time he laughed at my corny jokes. He was so laid back and nonjudgmental it was comfortable to just be. In fact, it felt comfortable to just be with all of these people.

While sitting around a fire 1,700 meters in the mountains on New Year’s Eve, Feven and I met a Nepali guide from the Everest region. In just a span of an hour, this man named Kami taught us about Buddhism through his personal experiences and about the peaceful co-existence of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal (meanwhile, the Hindu guesthouse owner sat with us listening to Kami’s stories). He said that sometimes while listening to the teachings of lamas, he would be moved to tears, which subsequently moved me to tears. His passion and faith shined through his personal stories, and never did he preach to us about his religion, but rather shared, in every sense of the word, a significant part of his life with us, complete strangers.
If all the people I mentioned walked down the street together, onlookers would be sure to wonder what on earth could bring such different individuals together? We’d be a funny lookin’ bunch! This, by the way, is the problem, and it is a problem I have carried until this trip. Before meeting them, I had made preconceived judgements about each person; European with long hair and an earring? Hippie. Hip Brit with nice clothes? Snob. Nepali henna artist? Scam artist. It only took a few minutes to realize how wrong I was about each and every one of them, and worst of all, how judgmental am (was…). It is neither cliche nor an understatement to say that everyone is unique, because they truly are. It just takes a little time to get to know an individual.

All these people above taught me something valuable about life. I can’t pinpoint exactly what those things are, but what I learned about them and from them as individuals–their unselfishness, openness, generosity, kindness and universalism–impacted me in a large way, edging me to self-reflect and think about what it means to be human. Who knows if I’ll ever see these people again–some more likely than others–but no matter, they are instilled in my memory, and I thank them for making Nepal as special and memorable as it was.