Tuesday, August 3, 2010
from Jane, August 4th: Last full day in Kathmandu
Hi Friends, I should say, I THINK it is our last full day in Kathmandu.
It's the morning of the 4th in Kathmandu, and the evening of the 3rd in Blacksburg, and as yet we have no printed tickets (e-ticketing makes me anxious), but today, the gods and the electricity willing, we will see actual plane tickets for tomorrow afternoon's flight to Delhi, and then onward home.
We have packing to do.
And goodbyes. To our friends, Pema Dhoka and Tenjin Thakuri, Mr. Bhatt and Yusef, to Sunil and Sarita, to Firdoze, to Narayan, to our new English friend, Tracy Litterick, on her way to Tibet, to Mingma Sherpa, and to all of our old friends at the Kathmandu Guest House, from the CEO, Rajan Sakya, to the housekeepers and the amazing gardener, to the tame supermodel-thin cats who are allowed to sleep in the garden in exchange for ratting duties.
Once we get to Delhi, we also have to say goodbye to Ashleigh Shepherd and to Mika Maloney (who returned to Kathmandu last night,
having spent glorious days in Pokhara, after her trek around the full circuit of the Annapurna; Moms and Dads, both Ashleigh and Mika look glamorous and glowing). We will miss them both terribly, but both are on their way to India for their first visits. They go with our admiration and love. Our summer was richer for their presence, and I am confident that their experience of Nepal will bloom into greater and greater
meaning, once they return to Virginia.
I hope so. My son, Emerson, about to start law school at UVa, says that his weeks with us at the beginning of this trip are definitely blooming for him. My daughter Iris, in med school at UVa, who has so sweetly followed every move and twitch of this trip, and who these
places when she was a child, still feels the exquisite effects of knowing Nepal.
Mary and Ella Hoffman, although they are only 12 and 8, have grown into capable world travelers in these six weeks, and, thanks to their amazing Mom's brilliant job mothering AND sharing her kids, Mary and Ella already plan their own returns.
We have already said our goodbyes to Tsampa and his family--they are all in Jomsom now, out west, in the high country--a world away. They will spend the day pitting apricots, and harvesting apples from Tsampa's orchard in Dhumpa.
Thank goodness it isn't easy to bring Nepali cats--and dogs--back to Virginia. I would be in real trouble.
Tonight, Jenna and I are invited back to His Excellency Ambassador Scott DeLisi's home, for a private, casual dinner with him and his wife Leija. How fortunate to have their company as a send-off. We liked them so much at the gala event they hosted to show A Gift for the Village to 52 amazing people this past Saturday evening. We are honored.
There is no re-capping a trip like this, but it is worth recalling that at the beginning of our Summer 2010 in Nepal, our hopes were to have the film shown in Kathmandu--which we have done, with great success; we didn't know back in June that our documentary would show in the Ambassador's home, as well as at the incredible Indigo Gallery, thanks to director/curator/artistic powerhouse of Nepal, James Giambrone, as well as in the Kathmandu Guest House Film Hall.
We had the dream of walking our film 155 miles, to show the film to the 25th hereditary King of Lo. We didn't know back in June that in fact the film would first have a private audience first with the Prince's nephew, our friend Raju Bista, in the beautiful Upper Mustang village of Ghemi, who is Pema Dhoka's brother-in-law, and then a private audience screening with the King, the Prince, and the Princess.
And then, on July 17 evening, with explicit royal permission and request, a screening indeed on the Palace adobe outer wall, for the village of Lo.
I must say that the generator and the sound system were perfect there, and that, seeing our film show in huge and perfect focus on that dark evening, on the medieval wall of Lo Monthang's Palace, at the request of King Jigme Palwar Bista, was a feeling I will never forget.
Our audience that night included villagers, the few other trekkers who had made it to Lo, and our incredible friend Luigi Fieni, the head of restoration for the American Himalayan Foundation, who has spent twelve years, so far, restoring the oldest giant temple in Lo, so important in part because there are several fresco Tibetan deities painted there that are to be found nowhere else in the world.
The next morning, Jenna filmed a rooftop conversation between Luigi and me, one of our favorite hours in Nepal. What impressed youa bout the film, we asked, and Luigi was extremely supportive. My compliment from him was that what surprised him, seeing a Gift for the Village and my commitment to Tibetan art and its ideas was, "Ahh, here is a Lady Luigi."
Such a beautiful Italian man, and such a charismatic compliment. He laughed hard when I rejoined, "Ahh, you meant to say, here (pointing to him) is a Gentleman Jane."
Luigi and Jenna and I hope to collaborate on a show--we double-promised to do so. His photographs, with my paintings, with Jenna's videography documenting, and to some extent creating, the effects of this blend. I can't wait.
I never want to end a trip to Nepal without thanking Jenna, my best friend and travel partner since 1999. I said, at the end of our 2007 trip, that Jenna continues to amaze me. She still does.
Jenna and Tracy (from Sheffield, England) went mountain-biking with our guide Narayan yesterday--an epic adventure that included riding on top of a crazy bus, WITH their bikes, over seriously bumpy roads and on cliff edges, bouncing and screaming and laughing, ducking powerlines and being slapped by tree limbs--let alone the hour of riding IN Kathmandu traffic, to Bhaktapur, sucking diesel smoke and eating grit. The bikes, Tracy added, didn't really have brakes. But they went up to Nagarkot, and rode down, and lived to tell the story. They probably went 25 miles, each safe rotation of their wheels a miracle.
Jenna came back grinning from the adventure. One day, when she turns 108 (lucky Buddhist number) and she does leave this earth, look for her as a cloud shaped like a superfit woman riding a superslick mountain bike (a supercool videocamera strapped to her supermuscular back).
And, once you have spotted her, just TRY to clock the speed with which that beautiful cloud--unlike all the other clouds in the sky, who have all accepted preconceptions about the limited things a cloud can do--just TRY to clock the speed, or measure the grace--as that Jenna-form takes off.
Many thanks to all of you who have followed our trip.
I give a talk at The Taubman Museum, part of their midday Lunchbox Series, a few days before our film premiere on the evening of September 16th. Tom Landon will help post (please, Tom!) the time and date of that presentation. I have worked on it in the last few days in Kathmandu, and feel pleased with finished essay.
Tashi deleg and orche to all of our friends and family here and back home. So so so so la! Victory to the gods. Victory over the causes of suffering. Victory to the wisdom and compassion in the human heart. Jane