Traveling solo to Nepal in the mid 1980’s was the first time that I encountered the beautiful word “Namaste.” Instinctively, I knew that it was far more than a simple greeting. A guidebook translated “Namaste” as “I welcome the gods that dwell within you.”
Another translation I found: “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.”
When I hear “Namaste” or see it in print, I think not only of the various translations but also of the fabulous time I spent in Nepal and the many beautiful people whom I met.
I think fondly of a smiling father proudly showing me his young son and the waiters who had such delight when I ordered native food and drink and of people on a local bus giving up their seats for visitors to their country.
Namaste is not only the reminder of a beautiful place but of a state of mind.
I stayed in Kathmandu for more than a week and then decided to visit Pokhra for several days. However, the flights were full and the tours were not convenient. When I spoke to the concierge at my hotel, he suggested that I take a local bus.
The hotel staff ensured that I was on the right bus, as the bus station was crowded with numerous buses leaving at the same time. It was marvelously chaotic. At one point, my carry on luggage was on top of a different bus, but it all got sorted out.
Pokhra was enchanting and a marvelous place to meditate and go for long walks and explore. It is at the foot of spectacular Annapurna.
Departing Pokhra, the local bus for Kathmandu arrived at the hotel before 6AM and almost immediately had problems and could not start. This happened many times over the next three hours at which time the bus finally died.
As the trip to Kathmandu would take about six hours, I knew that we were not close to either place. The driver and most of the passengers got off the bus and disappeared down the mountain.
I never did find out where they went. There were about eight of us left standing on the side of the road, with our luggage, hoping a bus would come along.
A tour company bus passed us, not stopping and then a chartered bus passed us. After about half an hour, a local bus that was full came by and stopped.
Some people immediately jumped out of the bus, grabbed all of the luggage and hoisted it to the top. And then people moved from the inside of the bus to the top and we found ourselves on the bus, with seats. It was packed, people smiling and a memorable fun experience.
But then, aren’t our travel mis-adventures the ones that we remember and laugh about.
I chatted with several Dutch tourists who had been on the bus and we went out to dinner in Kathmandu and shared our travel escapades.
My two weeks in Nepal were an incredible experience, a memorable journey, the more so because of the fantastic people, spectacular scenery and travel adventures.
Namaste to you on your journeys.