Asia | Nepal | Kathmandu Valley | Kathmandu – The end
Well, it is all over now. I have been home for a week and it has been so hard for me to even begin to write about the last weeks of my stay in Nepal. Time was spent on social engagements, tying up loose ends and saying bittersweet good-byes.
My second to last weekend started out as usual with dinner and drinks with friends. There was talk of a new nightclub having a grand opening and everyone was eager to attend. The party was invitation only, but it seemed everyone knew someone who had passes. So, off we went to what turned out to be probably the best nightclub in Kathmandu. It is called X-Zone and definitely rivaled any disco Ive been to in Europe. The music was a mix of techno and dance, mixed by a live DJ. There are no real addresses in Nepal, so if you find yourself there just ask a taxi driver to take you. They usually know where everything is. If you are into dancing, I highly recommend it. It was a little strange to see the mix of women in saris and women wearing western dress all grooving on the dance floor. That sight alone is worth the price of admission.
Over the next week, I went to school a couple of times. My classes were finished, but a teacher was sick and I filled in for him. I was happy to see my kids again, but it also made me even sadder to be leaving them. I spoke with the headmaster about the possibility of coming back again next year to do some more volunteering. I just felt so strange to be walking away from these kids who had become such a huge part of my life. After about a week, I called the school to see if I could come by to say a formal good-bye to my students and was surprised to hear them asking me first if it was possible for me to come down the next day at 3 oclock as they had a surprise for me. I showed up about 15 minutes early and saw them setting up a table outside with a microphone. I got very nervous, as I am one of those who hate to be in front of a crowd.
I was told to wait in the office and after a few minutes I was summoned to the playground. What met me was line upon line of my students in order of their classes. I was set in a chair in the front and a few speeches were made. One of my students made a speech about how I would always be in their hearts and it was all I could do to choke back the tears. Then it was my turn to make a speech and I cant even remember much of it, except telling them that I hoped I had given them all something that would stay with them for life, just as they had all taught me something that would always be with me. I was then presented with a gift from the teachers of a watercolour painting done by one of the staff. It was all so overwhelming. Then one by one in the drizzle that had begun, my students came past me to say goodbye and to give gifts of small cards and flowers. At that point, I knew that I would be back again and am trying to set up something for next spring.
That same night was my last night out in Kathmandu. I had one more night, but knew I would be frantically packing my bags, so I went out with my friends one last time. It was very nice and I was happy to be with them, but they had to work the next day so the night ended much too soon for me. I took pictures of them and promised to do my best to get back in December for the wedding of 2 of them. I decided to go out on my own since the night was young and went to my favourite late night bar called Tongues & Tales. It is one of those places that secretly stays open later than allowed and just sort of locks you in until they are ready to close. That is usually when everyone is so pissed they can barely stand!!! I stayed to the last as I was depressed about leaving. Acquaintances bought me beers and wished me well on my journey home. In the end, I decided to take a rikshaw home instead of face the pitch-dark streets, knowing how drunk I was.
It was shortly thereafter that I found myself in the first real physical danger I had faced in Nepal, riots included. The driver refused to turn onto my street and then when I protested he told me to shut up and took me to the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed. He turned down a dark road and stopped. I remember there were a cornfield and a mud road with a brick wall on either side of it. I saw only a few houses in the distance. The driver then attempted to attack me!!! I was in shock that he had even the slightest bit of nerve to even attempt such a thing. Luckily for me, I was never afraid for even a moment. I was sooo angry. I fought hard and I dont think he had expected the fury he got from me. I am extremely thankful for the small amount of Aikido training I received before I left, because he could not hold me without my slipping out of it. Of course, during the whole attack I was screaming obscenities at him that persons from New Jersey would be embarrassed to hear. Well, to cut to the chase, I got away and ran through the mud running right into 3 Nepali men who had heard me screaming. Two of them went after the man and the third walked me home. I dont know what happened to the driver, but I am thankful to the mystery man who got me home safely. The next day, I talked to people about it and no-one, myself included, had ever heard of such a thing happening before. I truly hope it was a one off situation.
That next day I did my usual procrastination and put off packing. I spent the day visiting shopkeepers who had become friends of mine and drank a lot of tea. Finally in the evening, I returned to my hotel and began the arduous task of sorting through 4 months of collected belongings. I had sent some things home with my husband after his visit in June, but had collected more than enough gifts for family and friends to make up for it. There were also 4 months of newspapers with all the tragic stories of events that had happened during my stay. I had no clue how to bring these home with me. I had almost figured out everything else when I realized I had no idea how to pack my large water clour without it breaking. I looked at the newspapers, then at the painting and voila the problem was solved on both accounts.
I went to bed with only a few last minute things left to do and woke on Friday to a day of waiting. I packed a small box of non-essential items and left them in storage at the hotel, hoping this would ensure my return. I wish my flight had been in the morning because I spent the whole day trying to go about business as usual while knowing that it was only a matter of hours before I would have to say goodbye to what had definitely become my home. Finally at 6:15 in the evening the taxi pulled up and I said my final farewells. We all promised to keep in touch and I promised to return. Upon take off, I knew that a part of me would never leave on that airplane. Rather, it would be walking the streets of Kathmandu for all eternity. I only hope the rest of me can join it from time to time.