Thursday, September 13, 2018

Life and Culture of Nepal, my observations

Life and Culture of Nepal
‘It’s a great time to be in Nepal, a Nation with a future that could be the envy of the world in five to ten years’
“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam”…I grew up in Chicago where Swift & Co. had a stock yard full of cattle waiting to be slaughtered. I conjured up visions of saving those caged animals by stealthily releasing them to roam the city at night. I always thought that would be cool, but here I am in Pokhara, Nepal, a city of half a million and buffalo do roam all around town, true! Not just any buffalo but huge water buffalo, and more, cows wander here too, and chickens, ducks goats, and dogs. This is a land where you will find yourself looking eye to eye on the highway with a buffalo, and they command the right of way. Buffalo are free to graze where ever they want and Cows are considered sacred and are protected.  And here you will experience monsoon rains that come on with roaring teeth rattling thunder and lightning that reverberate and flash for a long time as they travel and echo through the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas! Electricity is not a given, it can go off any time during what is called “load sharing” moment, which is to say the country presently cannot supply enough electricity to power the nation all day long so there are several times, actually seeming at random, when the power is shut down. This is soon to change but at present it is a fact that can be most frustrating to any Westerner visiting or living here.
Here women do men’s work wearing beautiful full length Sarris and attractive embroidered blouses and make up (always eye catching red lipstick) alongside men wearing shabby work clothes. They carry heavy loads of bricks and sand in bamboo baskets fastened to head bands. And here you will find those same beautiful young ladies shopping, dining, and dancing in their finest dress, modest, impeccable, alluring, with bracelets and brochettes in pure deep yellow gold and also sparkly plastic and gold bangles of myriad colors and designs. Yet spitting is common by women and men. When the urge happens spit flies usually but not always discretely and not apologetically.
Music of Nepal is uplifting, romantic, and most often danceable, loud or mellow, with various percussion instruments and amazing bamboo flute ranging from seductive to silly and entertaining.
This nation is said to be one of the poorest yet this is trickery here. More than 40% of the men and approximately 10 % of women seek and find lucrative jobs in foreign lands, mostly in the Middle East, USA, Australia and UK. They may work abroad for five to ten years, sending money home and at the same time saving large sums of money. Then they return and build beautiful two and there story stone and mortar high quality, amazing masonry and stunning architecture, They buy and wear expensive, tailored clothing and outfit their homes with high quality furnishings, kitchenware and electronics. Then they often set up mom and pop type businesses or develop an art to enjoy and supplement their income. It’s a proud, quality minded, quite formal, polite and style conscious culture. You will be hard pressed to find any second hand clothing shops here. Most Nepalese would be ashamed of wearing hand me downs or used clothing.
Not to say there are not many very poor and low cast people who never have the opportunity to travel abroad because of prejudice, lack of funds and education. It’s the familiar story of stratified classes of ultra rich, high and large middle class people and a large destitute poor class. The population on the whole consists of agrarian and unskilled manual laborers. But that is changing now with the slowly rising middle class who are managing to take advantage of the multiple private education opportunities subsidized by NGOs and foreign charitable foundations.
The country is having a rebirth since a crippling civil war of ten years ended in 2006, during which over 20,000 people died or were “disappeared”. Then there was the earthquake in 2015 that took the life of 8 thousand people and decimated housing for thousands. The monarchy ended in a bloody massacre and opened the way for decentralizing the power structure. The nation had its first open election in 20 years less than a year ago. After many years of instability the new government is trying to bring about a transition to stability and economic revival. Vastly needed infrastructure is happening with the generous help of its powerful and advanced lucrative neighbor nations, India and China. It’s a country that recently approved a new constitution and calls its government the Nepal Communist Party. Rather than following any established form of communism it has its own unique Nepali form of communism. In my opinion it appears to be in its early stage of formulating a federation, which is socialist/democratic.
Economically there is a rush to catch up and create a formative world class standard of living championed by a robust young population of entrepreneurs who are skilled in the technology world. There are more specialty schools and career training facilities per square mile here than any place on earth, I believe. Billboards and signage declaring the best programs for capacity building, career and higher education promotions crowd each other out posting in layers on walls, utility poles, and in competitive newspaper ads. They are in your face everywhere. Construction is in full speed with new and remodeling of buildings happening at a fever pitch. New roads, railways and hydroelectric projects and international airports are underway or in the planning stage.
Gold is the national standard of exchange and perceived wealth. People hoard gold, not currency, money or stocks and other monetary investments. They are almost antiquated in their pursuit of hoarding actual gold either secretly or in bank deposits. Its seems so ironic that in a so-called struggling , poor third world country people adorn themselves with pure gold rings, nose rings, bracelets, necklaces and all sorts of adornments in pure gold.  A bride to be simply must display a gold necklace and gold ring to be taken seriously and her fiancé to be worthy of her hand. Even the poorest of people struggle with great sacrifice to achieve proper recognition. Also the practice of dowry is still quite popular and expected among the more traditional families.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Healthy Pokhara Retreat, October 6, 2017

My last post was over a year ago, I am now married to a wonderful Nepali lady named Radha. We have our own home and operate a natural health retreat in Pokhara, Nepal.
It amazes me how much life can change in just one year. Our retreat website is Please check it out and send us a comment. We are also listed on Facebook, see Happy Health Pokhara Retreat.
We offer residential retreats for Yoga, Meditation, Weight Management, Detoxification and personally designed programs to address your unique health concerns. Our approach is totally via Natural therapies and organic food and supplements.
Stay tuned for exciting events and reviews about life at the Happy Healthy Pokhara Retreat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A travel log 
I feel like I just crossed a bridge, not just any bridge, but a bridge to knowing myself.  After living in a remote indigenous Tribal village for 8 years in North Thailand I thought I had truly arrived at a lifestyle born of antiquity. But after only five months in Nepal in a Garung village in the south shadows of the Himalayas I am now experiencing the real thing. To watch these folks plow the gardens with Oxen and wooden plow, and admire their meticulous maintenance of the vast and steep terraced lands, their constant battle to stay in balance with nature's explosive monsoon rains, is a tribute to what man can accomplish by hand and the sweat of his brow. And not just men, the women and men share all aspects of these heavy laborious tasks. And even more delightfully amusing to this US expat, the women are in charge here, not outwardly apparent, more covertly as I see now that I have been here long enough to get beneath the surface of their village culture. This journey is challenging me and changing my world view dramatically.
The Garungs are just one of the many diverse ethnic groups living and cohabiting the mountain villages and cities. The cultural diversity of Nepal is vast and impressive to observe, a peaceful coexistence of literally hundreds of ancient cultures, religions, and lifestyles. They seem to me to have created a democratic world view without all the hypocrisies and labels that attempt to confound the real thing in modern society. And now they are struggling to make democracy ‘official’, even including the communist Maoists in their coalition government. Ironically current struggle to achieve this is exaggerating and exacerbating the minor hostilities or prejudices that used to be tolerated, if not embraced with acceptance and harmony.
My tranquil home is just across Lake Fewa from the second largest city in Nepal, Pokhara. Here lies contemporary Nepal totally involved in a rush to be modern. But it’s not modern yet. No giant shopping malls or super highways, in fact most of the streets are in terrible shape from neglect due to many years of political strife and wars with neighboring and internal factions. The Maoists engaged in a revolutionary war which saw a bloody battle up until just a few years ago. Relative peace has only been achieved in the last 6 years.
My first trip to Nepal came unexpectedly. I was traveling in India intending to stay there for a month. Around the end of the second week I was deathly ill and quite discussed with the filth of Varanasi. One evening I met some young folks who had just came from Nepal. They told me of their journey to a remote village called Ponchasse where one could be so close to the snow-capped Annapurna mountains you could almost reach out and touch them. That’s it, I had to go, get away from the crowded polluted ancient city once called Benares and witness the highest peaks in the world.
(I must say that in spite of the filth and clamor of India I met some genuinely friendly folks that touched my heart. I admired their ability to keep a positive joyful spirit in the midst of chaos and poverty.)
The next day I was on a train headed north to the border with Nepal. The train was crowded and I was lucky to get a seat. I was in a sleeper compartment in which the conductor kept bringing more people till there was only sitting room and not much of that either. We shared laughs, snacks and stories as the old worn out steamer raddled on. A few hours later we reached the end of the line and I transferred to a packed full bus which took me to the border. The bus stopped a long walk away from the border crossing, it was hot, dusty and I was still quite sick. I had planned to make a short trip to Limbini, the birth place of the Buddha just a short distance inside of Nepal. But when a hawker offered a cheap bus ride direct to Pokhara, the city which was to be my base in Nepal, I jumped on board. The border crossing was friendly and I got my 30 day tourist visa without a hassle. No more Indian hawkers to deal with.
Now with the bus full of fellow journeyers we set off to the interior of Nepal. It was not long before we entered a canyon on a steep rocky, and sometimes paved narrow road overlooking a turquoise rushing river. Sometimes the bus came so close to the edge that I could not see any road below as I peered out the window. But what a rush of excitement to see this clear blue mountain stream, a site I had been missing since I left the Sierras of North America over twelve years before.
                                          My new Home
August 29, 2011

Good news for Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been elected by the parliament in Kathmandu, averting a political crisis threatening the fragile peace process in the nascent Himalayan republic.

His first task will be to complete the peace process which began in 2006 when the Maoists gave up their armed revolt. Bhattarai remained in hiding during the ten years of fighting prior to that. Now, his first challenge will be to reintegrate more than 19,000 former guerillas. As Reuters reports, Bhattarai said after his election: "Completing the peace process and preparing the new constitution are my priorities. Number three is providing relief to the people."

Some folks have asked for more information about the Gurung people. The following info is courtesy of Wikipedia. It also gives you a glimpse of how diverse the tribes are that have settled in Nepal, enjoy.

"The Gurung people, also called Tamu, are an ethnic group that migrated from Mongolia in the 6th century to the central region of Nepal. Gurungs, like other east Asian featured peoples of Nepal such as Sherpa, Tamang, Thakali, Magar, Manaaggi, Mustaaggi, and Walunggi, are the indigenous people of Nepal's mountain valleys. Their ancestors practiced Bön (shamanism), later converting to Tibetan Buddhism. They live primarily in north west Nepal in Gandaki zone, specifically Lamjung, Kaski, Mustang, Dolpa, Tanahu, Gorkha, Parbat and Syangja districts as well as the Manang district around the Annapurna mountain range. Some live in the Baglung, Okhaldhunga and Taplejung districts and Machhapuchhre as well. Small numbers are believed to be living in India's West Bengal and Sikkim, as well as Bhutan.
There are 543,571 Gurungs in Nepal (2.39% of the Nepali population)[1][2] of which 338,925 speak the Gurung language, a member of the Tibetan languages. Their ancestors, culture and traditions are traced back to Tibet. Though Tibet is called "Bhot" in the Nepali language, however the word "Botay" is considered derogatory to refer to Asian featured Nepalis. Gurungs coexist well with other ethnic groups of Nepal such as Madhesi and Khas, Hindu Indo-Aryan groups who have migrated to Nepal since the 12th century and brought with them the Hindu caste system. Most Gurungs and other indigenous Nepalese are Buddhist, and are thus not bound by the Hindu caste system."

Now as we move out of the monsoon season  the mornings are clearing and I am treated to this scene form my window>

Sept. 3, 2011

Continuing the story of my first trip to Nepal: The bus ride from the Indian border was a riotous intro to Napali culture. The bus was amazingly ornate, not like any public bus I had been on. Here were pictures of the Buddha and many Hindu deities gilded, multicolored and posted on the ceiling and icons on the driver's alter up front. Every corner and shelf had ornate detailed cornices. Then there was the music, loud, spirited flute, drums, string instruments and joyful singing. Vocals were romantic and chant like, spiritual,  in pleasing tone, not the squeaking I had gotten very tired of in Thailand. And it seem there was no limit to the number of folks (and chickens, goats too) they could cram into that old bus yet people were friendly and not adverse to close contact. When the bus could hold no more, passengers clamored to the roof and sat on top of the bus!

I was still feeling quite ill from my time in varanassi so after 5 or 6 hours I opted to hop off the bus in a little village that had a couple small guest houses. Not knowing anything about the town and traveling without a guide book I was more then a bit uneasy. I walked from one end of the village to the other in just a few minutes and finally made a choice of guest house. To my delight the hostess spoke enough English to get me settled in a room and prepare a medicinal tea, lemon , ginger and honey. I took a rest and after a couple hours felt good enough to have my first Napali meal, the standard affair called daal bhaat. This is a big stainless steel plate of steaming hot rice, and vegetable curry, and a side if stewed chicken.To this one adds the daal which is usually lentils and vegies, often spinach, in a rather heavy deliciously spiced sauce. Sometimes a cup of curd (unsweetened yogurt) is offered. This is eaten with your right hand (left hand is for cleaning one's butt when using the biddai) scooping the food up and kind of sucking it into you mouth. Spoons are offered for the uninitiated.
I had a great night sleep and was off early for the rest of the trip to Pokhara. This time the bus was full so I had my first ride on top of the bus, a wild ride it was. I quickly learned to hang on for dear life and keep aware of low hanging branches after getting smacked  hard once. It was not long till I was treated to my first glimpse of the snowy Himalayas far off in the distance. The stunning view made the bumpy rooftop ride most rewarding.

Sept. 16, 2011

Been off trekking a bit. Much to my surprize there was a Rainbow gathering in Nepal close to where I live. This was a first for Nepal and a bit of nastalgia for me since I went to the first rainbow gathering about 25 years ago in Oregon. I will post some pictures from the gathering but first I just wanto show some pictures of special interest to me. A glimps at the unusual that catches my eye.

Heres alittle guyI saw on the public bus. i am impressed with the children here, always bright and open, in tune with all thats happening.
And here's a school bus, do you smile at the name? Only in Nepal, a school caled 'great compassion'. Most people send their kids to private schools which offer a higher quality education then public schools. This school boards students from outlying villages where better education is rare.
And here is the milk boat which takes the local village milk accross the lake to the city of Pokhara each morning,

And here's the 'fat man', the one who checks the fatcontent of each farmer's product and thus determines how much to pay for the milk.

September 21

I just got my one year visa so looks like I will be reporting from Nepal for quite awhile. I was able to get a business visa which is not easy to do here. I have taken a job as manager of a new health retreat called Stonehaven Himalyan Retreat, Check it out. We offer many alternative health programs, the most popular being detox, yoga, and meditation.

Now for some news about the Rainbow Family Gathering. This event is an extention of the rainbow gatherings that started back in the 60's in Oregon, USA. I went to the very first gathering there. Since then the movement has spread around the world with attendance reaching over 20,000 or more folks. The theme of the gatherings is for people to come together to camp out in remote locations around the 4th of July to celebrate harmonious living and sharing alternative lifestyle and community building skills. It's also a great party time with music and dancing, sharing stories and networking with new friends and 'family'.
The gathering here was a first for Nepal and a welcome event for me since I miss going to the gatherings as I have many times in the States. It was a small gathering, only about 30 folks at any given time with people coming and going over a two week period. I stayed for two nights and met campers from Germany, Mexico, Russia, India, Nepal, UK, US, and France. The trip into the campsite was quite difficult, at least a 8 hour trip walking or a tortuous ride in a geep for about 3 hours. But the site was exceptionally beautiful, heres some pictures:

And here's a short video from the rainbow gathering to give you a feeling for the people and the scenic setting.
(coming soon)

A curious thing happened related to the gathering. We were camped out near  a small village and because it was a remote location the locals found a new source of entertainment. They loved to sit on the ridge just above us and watch the 'funny' people. After a while they began to come down and take a closer look. The clever ones started bringing food to sell which was quite nice. One young lady was brave enough to engage in conversation with a few of the Nepali men at the gathering.
One young German man was rather disturbed at being constantly observed. He even went as far as asking people not to stare at him or the folks gathered here. Since that failed to discourage the "staring" he attempted to put a lage tarp up to block the view. At that point the rest of the folks gathered challenged the young man to see that what he was doing was entirely inconsistant to the nature of rainbow family gatherings. They are meant to be all inclusive , to create a feeling of togetherness between the many people who gather from various countries, cultures and beliefs. He was encouraged to take responsibility for his emotional reaction to being watched, that the people were not doing anything 'to' him, that his emotions were a product of his mind and letting it go in true spirit of the gathering would solve his problem. He seemed unmoved and stuck in his mood.
I thought about this and tried to imagine how we , the family gathered, would react if a space ship landed just across the river from us. Would not we be most curious at the 'aliens' and do a bit of staring ourselves? I am sure this is about analogous to these wonder-filled village folks coming to observe us western hippie folks!


You might be wondering how it is that an American is spending so much time in lovely Nepal. Before moving to Nepal I lived in Thailand and had an exceptionally rare experience living in a small remote Hill Tribe village populated with a Tibetan tribe called the Lisu People. The Lisu had migrated out of Tibet due to political oppression from China. They arrived in north Thailand about 100 years ago. I was married to a wonderful lady named Ami, her Lisu name, but she took a Christian name, Susanan. Together we ran a Homestay and Craft school which was quite successful and is still functioning to date (see However after 6 years of marriage we drifted apart, still maintaining a close relationship.
I had always wanted to visit India so I set off on a journey there, a sort of pilgrimage following the Buddha path, ie. Calcutta, to Bodanath, and Varanasi. In Varanasi I became quite ill, got the dreaded diarrhea from India’s horrible unhygienic conditions. My fate changed upon meeting some travelers who had just been to Nepal. They were ecstatic about their trekking adventure to a small Himalayan village called Ponchasse. I was compelled to go there, after all I was just one days travel from the highest peaks in the world. It was clearly time to let go of India!
That was two years ago, I stayed only two weeks there but enough time to instill a desire to return. So after my marriage ended I set off for a longer trip to Nepal, settling into the picturesque lakeside city of Pokhara. Here I met a man who was to be my employer. I had thoughts of establishing a natural healing retreat offering my skills as a detox and colon therapist along with meditation, yoga, massage, and psychotherapy. It was not long that I met Peter, an Ausie married to a Napali woman and the owner of a new natural healing retreat called Stonehaven (see He was quite busy running his other three businesses and needed a manager for Stonehaven. So we soon came to an agreement and I was hired.
As it turned out the facility, although an impressive stone hewn building located in a majestic location on a mountain side with awesome views of the snowcapped Himalayas, the design did not lend itself to a proper venue for health programs. And unfortunately Peter was strapped for funds so there was no budget for improvements. After a few months of extraordinary efforts to overcome the shortcomings of the venue it was apparent that it could not work. So I am still involved with Stonehaven on a much reduced level and I am now in the process of offering my healing talents in the city of Pokhara on a private individual consultation basis.
Actually I have the luxury of two life styles, a city life in a vibrant rapidly developing city of Pokhara and renting a modern large flat and I still can spend at least a day or more at the country ‘estate’ of Stonehaven. It’s quite a full life.
Nepal is in the amazing position of being sandwiched in between the two fastest growing and largest  economies in the world, China and India. Nepal is struggling to recover from a civil war of 10 years and a long history of corrupt governance resulting in extreme poverty and an elite, wealthy aristocracy. The war ended with a Maoist takeover of the government and a fractured array of about 50 opposing political parties. Recently a Maoist Prime Minister was elected named Barburam Bhattarai, a brilliant man in commerce and manifest personal charisma. He is well educated and an experienced politician who was a prime mover in removing the royal family from power (which ended a long era of despotism).
I find him to be an amazing man with the interests of all people foremost on his agenda. He was raised in a remote village by peasant farmer parents yet scored number one in the national student exams. His reading of Che Guevara’s life story transmuted the shy scholar into an unreserved rebel. Ironically he calls himself a “radical democrat”, rather odd for what is usually not the rhetoric of a Maoist. Many locals that I have talked with respect PM Bhattarai and have hopes that he can unify the vying political factions to get this country on the road to rapid development. Unifying the country and unseating the corrupt politicians is  almost an impossible task but the people I talk with say if anyone can do it Bhattarai can.
He has already brokered financial assistance from the affluent neighbor countries that are very anxious to repair old frictions and see Nepal prosper. Nepal is a major trade route connecting India and China. What is good for Nepal is good for them as well. Hydroelectric dams is the most needed improvement to bring Nepal into the 21st century and both India and China have committed mega bucks to build dams here. They have a vested interest in creating more electric power for themselves.
So here I am in a fascinating time with this country grasping at the threads of a true republic with great potential and great obstacles to overcome. It is very third world with terrible roads, electricity black outs daily, slow internet and an ancient inefficient infrastructure. I admire the people, they seem unfazed by the lack of modern convenience’s and just keep moving forward as fast as they can, yet not losing their culture which is deeply rooted in Buddhist and Hindu spirituality and integrity. There are signs of degradation, especially in the cities but the real Nepal, the people living in the mountain villages have a brightness about them, righteous abundant but challenging lifestyle that I delight in and believe will carry them into moderate modern life with culture intact; the ‘middle way’ with tolerance, humility, compassion and ancient wisdom, the ‘Buddha’ way of pure mind.
The driving force for me to live here is the opportunity to visit these hardy mountain people and converse with them. Most speak some English, some are very fluent. They open their homes with warm hospitality. I have had the good fortune to make friends with local folks who love to take me trekking up to their home villages and families in the surrounding mountains. Here are some reflections and pictures from a recent 4 day trek:
Three villages Trek into the Countryside
Narayan, my friend and excellent yoga teacher invited me on a trek to his home village and two neighboring villages. We began the adventure with an hour long taxi ride to get us out of town and to our trail head some distance from Pokhara. The walk started on pavement through a small village and then winding down to an aqua blue reverbed canyon. We went through a huddle of shanty like homes which were provided by the Maoists for a homeless population of semi nomadic Indian and Nepali folks. These people were living from earnings as farm laborers. Not a life of wealth but I did see lots of smiling faces and no one was begging. After a few Kilometers of riverside trekking we began our assent into the mountains. It was a difficult six hour climb. There were three of us, Narayan, our guide, Roger, an American gentleman who had settled in the British country side for over 20 years and me. The trail was steep but ever more picturesque as we gained altitude into a thick mountain jungle terrain. The fauna was a multi mixture of hard woods, oak and conifers and hundreds of colors from scattered patches of wild flowers. I recall Roger noting that some of these delightful flowers were only grown as house plants “back home”.
Deurali Ukali
We passed little clusters of home sites, with hand built buildings of exposed flagstone and red clay mud. Some were finished with a stucco of clay. Our destination for the night was a village called Deurali Ukali in the province of Kasti. This area was known for two of Nepal’s few lakes, Begnas Tal and Rupa Tal, but we were hiking far above them to about the 7000 ft. level.  The village from a distance was almost a hobbit like cluster of thick grass roofed cottages hugging the crest of a moderately wooded saddle between two mountain crests.            

Our Hosts were a gracious middle aged couple with their family and extended family all huddled together in one complex of cozy rugged buildings. The dwellings were typical stone, mud and Grass roofed mountain homes, thick walled with heavy hand hewn sturdy timbers. Interior was with few windows and they had electricity most of the time from the grid. Beds were just barely tolerable soft with heavy hand sewn quilts displaying many hours worth of colorful embroidered patterns. Cooking was done on wood fired clay stove in the kitchen building which was separate from the main house. Food was delicious vegetarian fare with garden fresh spinach, potatoes, beans, squash, tomatoes, rice and corn cakes and lentil chili too. Water here was fresh unfiltered clean cold mountain spring water. They did have animals too, goats, chickens, domestic buffaloes, oxen, cows, ducks, a horse dogs and several cats and fruit: pineapple, apples, oranges, lemon, papaya, bannana, strawberries, avacado, mellons, hazel nuts and several exotics I could not put English names to.   It never snows here or freezes, we were told but temps dropped as low as 5* C.
Our Host was a prominent figure in this village of 400+ folks. The kids had access to schools at a 1.5 hour walk. The terrain was too steep for any motorized vehicles although they were punching in a new road with a bulldozer at the time.  For now it was quiet and peaceful. There was a flurry of activity among the young ladies and we soon were invited to a traditional dance performance which we found out later was a special event organized just for us, amazing!

Me on a Local swing, popular all over Nepal
Love these farm houses

The dance team

Our host enjoying the dance

Host home and Narayan, our guide
Me the happy camper

I will get back to the trekking story later, for now folks here have just celebrated a Hindu festival called Divali (Diwali in India). This is almost like their Christmas. It translates as a festival of light in honor of Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and material blessings. It’s a time of giving presents, hanging ‘Christmas’ type lights on buildings, lighting yak butter candles around the homes and shops, and small groups of carolers going from house to house chanting sacred songs. People travel far to be with their families for 2-3 days. And during this time there is a special day called ‘brother, sister’ day so brothers and sisters exchange gifts. A sacred ceremony of special prayers and chants in which a bright multicolored Tika is painted on the Hindu faithful‘s forehead Actually here in Nepal Hindu and Buddhist believers blend well and share each other’s customs, which means there are an incredible number of holidays!  All shops, banks and government offices close for the festival except the grocers.
It’s a most colorful and musical time with street performers dancing and mobile bands playing as they move through the main thoroughfares. There are a few fireworks but nothing like the nonstop ear bursting cacophony of explosions I experienced in Varanasi, India for the same festival a couple years ago.  I had to retreat to the roof top of the guest house where I was staying to escape the deafening noise.  Fireworks are illegal here and strictly enforced.  Just one sign of the much more sane and livable culture I find here compared to India.  I was warmly received and included in the celebration of my Nepalese friend, Shiva, and his extended family.  We had an enormous dinner of the national standard dal baat, a deliciously spiced combination of cooked vegies, chicken, fish, chili sauce and lentil-millet curried gravy with a generous pile of rice all eaten with one’s hands, no forks.I found out where the donut originated, it was right herein Nepal. Below you will see two ladies cooking rice flouer donuts, a special Navali treat.
another curious feature was the paintings on the walks in fromt of shops, colorful sybology to attract positive energy to the venue. And finaly there are dancers in the street. I got into the action here and joined in with the joyous onlookers cheering me on.

Also below, you can watch a short video of a very colorful traditional dance performed by Tribal people from a mountain village who were performing at a local restaurant in Pokhara.


So now i want to go back to the trekking expedition I was talking about earlier but I think its time to start a new page, so my readers who have been following me from the beginning can skip over this page and go to the new stuff.  To get to the new page just click here