The opinions expressed on this blog are the personal views of Andreas Kjernald and do not reflect the positions of either the UMC congregations in Skien or Hvittingfoss or the UMC Norway.

söndag 22 januari 2017

Two weeks in Pokhara

There are many "obvious" things about coming to and being in Nepal. The roaming dogs and cows; the incessant honking and the chaotic traffic; smells both horrible (sewer) and delicious (food). The radiant colors of women's clothing. The dust. The staring. The "Namaste" and the smiles when you greet them. The legion of hole-in-the-wall shops selling the same thing (chips, Cokes, water, soap, toothbrushes, toilet paper); The low prices. The because-you-are-white-we're-increasing-our-prices-150%; The mountains. The scary looking doctor's offices (and even worse hospitals); Advertisments everywhere; Hindu temples/holy trees/stones; the trash.

But there are many other things I have noticed, or that have made an impression on me. For instance, I find it interesting that most medium to large temples are padlocked and gated so that the little statue/god is barely visible. Why? It's a cement/stone statue of some size. Besides, wouldn't the laws of Karma dictate that stealing a statue/god would automatically send you down the reincarnation ladder?
I wonder if the devout Hindu person really gets anything out of the chanting that goes on down by the lake temple for A WHOLE MONTH (Imagine listening to one of those fast talking auction guys for hours upon hours). Funny footnote: our neighbor has a little temple in his yard and every morning at 8 o'clock he jingles some bells, gongs a gong and blows a trumpet. Why? To wake up the god? Some cosmic rooster liturgy?
I wonder if hope exists. I see so many people just sitting around, just staring. I see people living in shacks and mud huts next to $200/night resorts. I see children playing with broken plastic bottles or rubber bands, looking cute and happy but realizing that their parents can't afford the school fees and that that is why they are out playing...until they are grown up and have to find some crummy job just to be able to eat. What hope is there when choices are absent? What can people hope for?
I wonder what people look forward to.
I wonder what makes them happy or content or joyful when their surroundings are so bad.
I wonder how it all works when our landlord invited us to dinner, which was great btw, and she tells us that she prayed "to her god" (quote) for help when she didn't have any renters. According to Scripture, she was praying to a demon and God didn't hear her...along with billions of others. You never think about that when you live in a "Christian" country. What is the theology of that?

I also wonder what the white american woman was thinking who came into our restaurant and promptly decided to do yoga on the floor and railing by our table. What was that all about?
I don't wonder about the many descriptions in the Bible about mountains and the "mountain of the Lord" and similar themes. It is, in fact, quite obvious that a huge mountain will make you quiet and in awe and I get that view every morning.

Today we went to church. It was St. Ann's Catholic church and it was a normal Mass. Laurie and I were excited to be in the fellowship of believers (church) and in semi-familiar surroundings. I can't say that the service was amazing but the normalcy and comfort of the language and the rituals and the songs were nice. I enjoyed it. Another funny note: 5 minutes AFTER church should've started, but hadn't, the deacon walks over to our pew and asks if anyone in the congregation can do the reading for the day. Laurie volunteered me. So there I was, reading the confusing order of worship, trying to find out what exactly I was supposed to do. Should I cross myself? Bow before the altar? Say anything before or after the reading? But I read the Scripture and can now say that I have participated in a Catholic Mass :).
We also found a local market close-by where David almost got his wish of seeing a chicken killed and cooked (he just wants to know how a chicken meal is prepared). We did see them cook a newly fethered chicken with a blowtorch and that was good enough.

Next Thursday we leave for the Family Home and the children (and a jungle safari and Buddhas birthplace). We are super excited and a little apprehensive about the long car ride. There aren't exactly any Statoils along the way for snacks and/or bathrooms breaks. The kids are flexible enough, though, that it should be fine.

For now and until next time,
Did I mention that Nepalese love colors?

One of many boat days. They're looking at the Gurkha village over "there".

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