Flew out of Syracuse, NY on June 3 at 7 AM. And after 23 hours of travel, I reached my destination in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 4 at 5:45 PM.
I will be working as a visual storytelling fellow for 90 days with the Accountability Lab, a nonprofit that trains, mentors and supports active citizens and leaders to strengthen systems of accountability and promote positive social and economic change in Nepal, Pakistan and Liberia.
With a population of 1 million, and an elevation of 4,600 ft., Kathmandu is home to about a 12th of the country's population. A lot of its revenue comes from tourism. And it has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal. Not to mention its rich history spans nearly 2,000 years. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of the people here, most following Hinduism and Buddhism. Nepali is the spoken language, but English is largely understood as well (with the educated class.)
Many people have told me how lucky or how brave I am to step into another culture just like that. Well, let me tell you it's terrifying. But a good kind of terrifying. The kind where you just say "yes" and go from there and you end up surprised by how much you learn by getting lost in it. Over the next three months, I plan on getting a hang of crossing the street without my heart racing, having go-to places to eat and shop. Maybe people will remember me when I pass by on the street? Everything you can think of that goes into being in a new place. Think of the tourists that come to Time Square in New York City. Yeah, they walk slow and stare up at sky scrapers far too long, but that seems so normal to me now. I can't help but analyze just how different things are here and I've only just experienced walking down the street. Between the humidity and my clock being on New York time still, I've been taking it easy. Jet-lag is an ailment.
Things to remember: Airlines do not like when you try to sneak a tripod onto the plane when you already have two carry-ons. If you talk to the right person, sometimes your seat gets upgraded to first class. You just might find an interesting farming, evangelical self-help public speaker sitting next to you. Next time, I'll change into cooler clothes before getting packed onto a bus to get shuttled to my 5-hour flight to Kathmandu. And I'll be sure to follow locals when attempting to cross the street. Don't go at it alone! It's terrifying.
My Sunday started off pretty slow as I was still trying to adjust to the time change, but later in the day a college friend of mine, Shiraz, came over to see where I'm staying this summer and to take me to try some local food and get more groceries at a larger store..
I tried chicken & buffalo Nepali momos, which were the most delicious dumplings I've ever had and he even said he's had better. Also, order Nepali chili fries, which were delicious. I was trying to balance my hunger with my effort to not get sick not being used to the food here, but I was just fine and even had leftovers. Then we went across the street to Bhatbhateni Supermarket, equivalent to a Walmart in the states. And there were so many choices. It was overwhelming, but it was nice to have my friend Shiraz there to lighten the mood.
This is only just the start, but I plan to keep an open mind along the way and be flexible to what's happening around me. I'm blogging for the first time in my life, so I remember all this. All I bet that by the end of my time here, I bet you'll want to come to Nepal.