I am puzzled as to why I love the Nepali people so much. I landed at the airport in Kathmandu, and was overwhelmed with joy, excitement, in anticipation of seeing my beloved people again. The language came back very quickly. Two phrases always bring tears to my eyes: My heart and Nepal’s heart, are one, and My own country is America, but my heart’s country is Nepal.
I love the organized chaos. At the domestic airport, everyone is stood around, waiting for the fog to lift. Then, the overhead loudspeaker started to announce flights in that garbled, tinny tone that you get from overhead loudspeakers, especially when the mouth is too close to the microphone. At the same time, four different men walked around, shouting to announce their flights. No microphones, just yelling. They all yelled out their flights at the same time, for different airlines, repeatedly. The room was in total chaos. Which flight? Which airline? I couldn’t hear clearly. The fog had lifted just enough, and we were now about two hours behind schedule. So all the airlines wanted to catch up, all at once. After the first round of people departed, and a few minutes later I heard, “Vrooom!” “Vroom!” “Vroom!” “Vroom!,” as four different airlines took off one right after another. This went on for half an hour. My flight was finally called about an hour later. But I stood there in total amazement that in the midst of this apparent chaos, people actually got on their flights and all the planes actually left.
It reminds me of a time many years ago, when they were going to have a grand opening for the Teaching Hospital. We heard that it was supposed to be 10:00 am on a Thursday morning on a very cold winter day, and a formal occasion at that. The King of Nepal was supposed to come and cut the ribbon in the ceremony. With long underwear on under my silk salawa kutta, we got there early so as to get a good seat. By 9:00, they still weren’t done with getting the decorations up. I would have thought that this would have been done a day or two previously. In fact, it looked like total chaos. People were going in all different directions at the same time, but going slowly. No hairs were out, plants were not organized, and the red carpet was still rolled up. Wow! the King is going to be upset about this one. So many people were just standing around, and while some were trying to put up a sign, they would just laugh when it didn’t stay up. This was my “Never-Never Land” where people never have to grow up! At 10:00 sharp, all of a sudden everything was done. It had gone from total disarray to complete perfection with the wave of a magic wand – instantly. There was no more scurrying around, the banner was up and staying put, the red carpet was out, all the chairs were placed in nice neat rows, and everything was organized. About 30 minutes later the King and Queen of Nepal (God rest their souls) showed up, the formalities began, and the opening ceremony took place. I would never have thought that they would actually pull it off, but they did.
The people are very friendly, peace-loving and gentle. Even with civil war continuing for more than 10 years now. They all just want peace. And this woman’s actions today warmed my heart. In a country where feet are dirty (unclean) and the head is sacred, she very gently and carefully washed this man’s foot. He has a broken leg, and she is preparing him for a plaster cast to be applied. She has humbled herself to do a job that no one wants to do. And she did it with tenderness and loving care of someone washing the feet of a King.
I love this place and I love these people. Mero mutu, Nepalko mutu eutai ho! My heart and Nepal’s heart are one!
For more puzzling stories, go here.