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Nepal

On March 6, 2000, I left for Kathmandu, Nepal with singer/songwriter Trina Hamlin. We performed a benefit concert for the Snow Lion Foundation at Hotel Yak & Yeti on March 10. The SLF is an organization responsible for looking after the education, health and social welfare of Tibetans living in exile in Nepal.

Postcards from the High Himalayas...

Saraswati

written postcard

 

Kathmandu is a great place to be jet-lagged. Cows move slowly across the streets. People hang out waiting for something to watch. It's dirty and beautiful and alive and dying. There's a sense of humor and devotion about the mix of cultures and religions that never seems to pressure or be in conflict. I never see a Baby Gap. But I'm not there long enough. Fading images. Mama don't take my kodachrome away...

sketch of backpackerI fall in love with our little group on the four hour drive between Kathmandu and Pokhara: Jenny (the concert promoter who brought us there), friends from Kathmandu: Sonam (age 6) and his father Christopher, Trina, me. Last names aren't important to those who end up in Kathmandu I was told.

We drive the Prithvi highway winding with the river rapids and gorges through beautiful country and towns filled with ethnic groups I've never heard of like Magars and Gurungs which sound like fantasy book tribes. We sing children songs, Trina plays harmonica, Christopher knows every lyric of every song written between 1965-1974. We arrive in the evening and stay the night at a nice hotel where they find a guitar and we play for Indian tourists and get rewarded with endless liquor and food from their friend who runs the place. It's the Shangri-La, no shit. He tells us that EmmyLou Harris and Linda Rondstadt are coming in a few weeks.

Early next morning the sun was shining...and I heard the click of Trina's camera and there it is: the Himalayan range in the early morning light outside our balcony window. We have to leave to catch the plane into the mountains. I sit next to the flight attendant on the teeny little plane leaving the lake town of Pokhara, and she is barefoot and praying as we take off for Jomsom. I hold onto Sonam as we fly through the Annapurnas landing in a town that feels like Dodge in the 1800's. Except there's mountains around us that hint we're not in a John Wayne film.

The Tibetan guide who meets us with the horses in Jomsom quickly becomes part of this odd surrogate family unit. Angya is simply cool. We look at some artifacts and maps in town and then we are on our way.

I ride a horse with a name I can't pronounce for four days 10, 11, 12 thousand feet up in the Himalayas. A wooden saddle covered with Tibetan rugs moves on its own volition under me. He lets me go fast when I want, and when we cross a river or hug a cliff too close for comfort, I close my eyes, chant "om mani padme hum" and all is well.

drawing of mountains

Surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the world, all I hear is the sweet endless sound of bells around the horses' and donkeys' necks and roosters crowing. Once in a while we hear Trina's horse pass gas, but since I am in front of her, peace prevails. We pass through villages and stay in guest houses where we eat with trekkers from around the world. Little children with dirt black smoke on their hands and faces bring burning coals and set them under where we eat. There is a skirted blanket around the long wooden tables and we bring the heat to our beds by 8pm; there's no lights. Just the smell of juniper and coal. And the sound of the bells.

(Excerpted from my Once In A Blue Moon Newsletter of May 2, 2000)

PHOTO ALBUM
(Click any image for a larger version.)

   
Nepalese students   Laurie and friend
School children in Manang - photo courtesy of the Snow Lion Foundation   Making friends in Nepal - photo by Tom Kelly
portrait   portrait
Faces of Kathmandu: portait by Laurie   Faces of Kathmandu: portait by Laurie
Laurie and friend   Laurie and Trina
Nepal - photo by Tom Kelly   Laurie & Trina Hamlin at the Kathmandu local radio station
Palace Room   Laurie at Palace Room
The Palace Room, Kathmandu, site of the benefit concert for the Snow Lion Foundation   Performing at the Palace Room

 

 

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