Returning to Nepal 3 years later, this time with Tom and Dawn who are on their honeymoon (yep I gate crashed it). They are starting off in Nepal, then off to Cuba and South America for 6 months. I have joined them 6 weeks in, for 2 weeks and return visit to Kalimati to see how the school is progressing.
We met up in Pokhara, had a couple of days chill-out plus shopping for games/toys and school supplies. The trip up to the village is much easier, the jeep still leaves from the same place, but this time there are a good few more each day, not just the one. Which means what used to be an overcrowded, cramped squeeze of approximately 20 people clinging to the jeep, now only has about 7 people; the guys still choosing to ride on the roof and Tom joins them. Dawn and I are squashed in but it is chickens not people taking up room. We only discover this when the boxes at our feet open to reveal baby chicks.
Arriving in Kalimati, such a warm welcome! Deepak, the teachers, pupils and many of the villagers are waiting for us and covering us with chrysanthemum garlands. The kindergarten is still standing (despite the 2015 earthquake which did cause some damage to homes). What is truly wonderful news is that after the kindergarten was built, Deepak tells me the school won the award of Number 1 Kindergarten in Ghandaki District (I remember the school district commissioner attended the opening in 2014). This meant the village was able to attract additional funding – in the past they have had to fight to have a school here at all (even now only two of the teachers receive a government salary). The result of the award, 3 new large classrooms have been built, which they have kitted out beyond the usual village schools facilities that you see in the mountains.
After lots of tea, introductions and chat we are guided up to Shiva’s place, which he has set up as a guesthouse. On the way a lady is standing by the pathway waiting for us. She is the mother of Naryan (who in 2015 had pneumonia complicated by a pleural effusion. In the UK treatment would be free and quick on the NHS. In Nepal the cost was NPR 400,000/£2,480 and rising. Then their choice was stark – their son or their land, selling it their only means of getting money to pay the hospital bills. He had been sent all the way to Kathmandu and they had been living at this bedside for several weeks, when I got news of their plight). I get a great big hug from her for the contributions raised to help pay the hospital bill. Naryan is now an energetic, laughing little 6 year old boy, very healthy and cheeky.
The view from Shiva’s place is magnificent. The welcome warm and the beds comfortable. Next day it is back down to the school for a ‘ceremony’.
Now I got used to ceremonies when last in Nepal. There is a ceremony for everything and I knew what to expect. Lots of speeches, which as guests we would be expected to give (a quick warning to Tom and Dawn they would be inline to stand up and speak as well as honoured guests); but what came next was totally unexpected and an utter surprise!
The villagers were aware that Dawn and Tom were recently married and on their honeymoon. So they decided a second impromptu Nepali wedding was in order and a consultation in the Naming Book to give then Nepali names! Dancing and singing.. the video below says it all.
When it came to the naming ceremony, Deepak gave a long explanation that Tom’s new name, ‘Krishna’ had been chosen as he was like Krishna the god. Munificent, brave, intelligent and a great leader and on and on and on. Naturally Dawn was looking forward to finding out about her new name. After the long speech about Tom’s – a god, Dawn received her name, ‘Radha’. Why Radha… she was the wife of Krishna.. end of story. In existence only because of her husband. Tom basking in his new god-like status, not helping!!
So much more to tell! Must write up!! Kalimati villagers are the warmest most wonderfully generous spirited people.