Thursday, January 13, 2011

Return to Kathmandu- Losing all Focus

So I'm finally back in Kathmandu after a short tour of Cambodia and Thailand. Before I get to the topic of this post I have to give some serious praise to Thai Airways. I've flown them before and they must be one of the best run and most customer friendly airlines I have ever used. While normally US based companies have superior service than overseas competitors, I find our airlines are terrible. Thai airlines have always been very helpful, and their planes are clean, the food isn't bad and their in flight entertainment isn't bad at all. They also don't charge extra for drinks on the planes like some outfits do now. My flight back was with Thai airways to Dhaka in Bangladesh, and then I had a connecting flight through the local carrier to KTM. When I checked in the woman at the counter upgraded me to a direct flight, and it was a flight that departed earlier getting me home three hours early and on a much better plane. So big thanks to them, and I can't recommend them highly enough.

Sometimes it's strange how your perspective of things can change so much in a short time. Before I left for this trip, I'll be honest I wasn't really all that excited about it. Sure I was happy I would finally get to go see Angkor Wat and I was looking forward to being at the ocean again, but mostly I saw it as cutting into a really good rhythm I had gotten myself into that had me writing some of the best stuff I had put together in my life and a running schedule that had put me in some of the best shape of my adult life. Then there was that sync I had finally found with the flow of life in Nepal, picking up supplies, making meals, everything had kind of found its place, so the idea of getting out of that gave me a bit of worry that I might lose a bit of it by the time I returned. This was a well placed concern.

Stepping back into Nepal the other day I couldn't help but feel a bit confused as to what I was actually doing here.  I got home and after unpacking a bit and taking a quick nap I got a chance to Skype Kim back in the states and chat a bit. She asked me, "So what did you miss about Kathmandu?" I was stumped.  kind of stared at her over the screen for a minute while my brain frantically searched for an answer, I stuttered a bit. "I missed running out to Boudha. It will be good to make some more salsa and see people at the market. In the evening before sunset I missed being able to look out at the Himalaya on the horizon. Once it warms up a bit it will be nice to get back out into the mountains, I really do enjoy it out there." But the answers all felt at least a little bit empty.

To be honest what I hadn't missed was the load shedding, the lack of warm water or water at all. I hadn't missed the dark cold nights, the polluted rivers and trash strewn roads. I hadn't missed the dust that covers everything here. I hadn't missed the honking, or the terrible driving habits, or the lack of any shared sense of what common courtesy is. Even though Thailand and Cambodia are extremely different from where I am from, Nepal is another whole dimension.   I hadn't missed the unreliable access to goods, especially certain food, and I hadn't missed the constant hassle that is dealing with everything that is life in Nepal. Coming back home to Nepal, I had completely forgotten why I was here.

I'm now sitting in Imago Dei since my internet isn't working at the house and trying to gain a little focus back. Over the last year I've had a chance to read some of the best, and most important books, I've ever read. Without a doubt I've written the best stuff I've ever written. I've had a  chance to travel to some of the most amazing places I've ever been, and I've interacted with people who I'll never forget. When you look to see where you are geographically and ask why you're there the answer may not always be one of social or practical efficiency. When I really sat and thought about why I was here now, it was mostly because time is cheap and can be purchased at a fraction of the price you get it for in the west. what I missed most about not being in Nepal is the slow rate of wealth depreciation over time, which allows for a stronger focus on the things that you really want to concentrate on and devote energy toward.

I had been so focused before I left that all of the impediments to life that Nepal brings to the fore had melted away as a small cost for what it was allowing me to concentrate on. Now having lost that rhythm, having lost that strong focus the reality of where you are sitting stares you in the face, and without a little mental concentration and a focus on perceptions it's easy to become frustrated with my surroundings. Strangely coming back to Kathmandu I feel further away from it than I have in almost all of my time here. Maybe it's a passing disorientation from my recent trip, maybe it's something more, only time will tell. For now I'm back in Kathmandu, and it's been an awkward homecoming.


  1. NAMASTE . Thank you for this interesting report.
    It is true that there is no electricity in Kathmandu : our friend who arrived there 2 days ago, also says so. Internet is not working. Telephone not working.He says everything is little bit chaotic , dirty also. We pray for all who are staying in Nepal . OM MANI PADME HUM and with Verses of Prayer to 8 Noble auspicious ones (Mipham Rinpoche).
    Buddha Dharma-OBFInternational
    Heritage of Mankind

  2. Hello,
    If you have a moment...
    I am from San Diego planning on travelling to Kathmandu from the first time and was glad to happen upon your blog here and read about your route using Thai Airways. Do you have any other suggestions for carriers that service Kathmandu from Thailand? Or one from the United States? (affordability factor is what I'm looking for the most at this point)

    Best of luck with Brian's Grill project as it continues to come together!


  3. Well your best bet, if price is your concern, is to get a consolidated ticket through an internet wholesaler. For the last four years or so I've always found to be the cheapest provider. The resulting ticket usually ends up as a blend of airlines over this flight. If you're dates are flexible you can save a significant amount of money,as certain date combinations can be half as expensive as others. As I fly to the east coast and thus usually fly through the gulf states, I'm not as familiar with which airlines connect to the west coast. If you fly here after a stop in Thailand your best bet is almost certainly with Thai airways as they fly here three times per week, and are usually cheaper than other airlines, including Nepal airlines, which services that route. That and as I mention in this post, they and south east Asian airlines have vastly better service than anything from the subcontinent.


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