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Living in Nepal - Part I

We have been living in Nepal for almost a year and a half now. During 2016 we lived here for five months, and it was a very challenging time. My other half was sick almost half the time. You see, Kathmandu is an interesting place. It is really difficult to find the best word to describe it. It is like eating fusion food with distinctly different tastes fighting in your mouth.

In the same way it is sometimes a battle between your senses, your heart and your mind to take it all in and to digest it. If you have not been to India or Nepal, it is very difficult to describe it to you; better to come and visit to see for yourselves. In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel the one guest described visiting India as “an assault on the senses,” which is as accurate a description as we could think of.

So why am I writing this story? We will soon be flying to South Africa for a short visit and will face the most dreaded question of all: "How was it in Nepal?" Really?! How do you expect me to summarise 17 months in a few words and keep you interested? The notion is utterly ridiculous, therefore this is mostly me trying to start the digestion and summary process and making sense of what happened to us during a time that felt more like a decade than a year.

I bet you are burning to ask me the next question. You see this is probably the most frequent question I have been asked for over a year, other than my name and where I am from. That question being: "So what are you doing here?" The short answer is that we have decided to open a business in Nepal. The longer version sounds like something from Meg Ryan or Billy Cristal in When Harry met Sally. You see, Kathmandu was only ever supposed to be a half hour stop on our way to somewhere else. We never intended to come and stay here. We were actually on our way to Bhutan and our flight there required a short stop in Kathmandu for a passenger change. It was during this stop that somebody asked a very innocent question. (She says: "Somebody? SOMEBODY?! i was there, remember! It wasn’t 'Somebody,' it was That-Man himself who had asked the 'innocent' question.") He dared to wonder what it would be like to visit Nepal. Nobody could have imagined that we might want to call this place home in the far-off future.

Our journey was not all sunshine and roses. I remember when we were here in 2015, considering for the first time what it would require to possibly relocate. That month my heart yearned with every plane to go home. I realised that I would probably go insane if those feelings continued. I also remember sitting on the plane, returning to South Africa, knowing that the reality of adapting to a new culture and the uncertainty of a new business had set in. That this was not going to be easy.

But I also remember sitting on the roof of our guest house, looking out over Kathmandu one morning, ending a Whatsapp message to my friends with the words "from my home". The change had taken place. This symphony of sound and smells and colors with its spectacular views of giant mountains with white tops had become home to me. Yes, I still miss seeing the flat horizon and the vastness of the Northern Cape landscape in South-Africa with all its diversity and animals occasionally, but this place had over many years taken over a big portion of my heart.

The final chapter in this particular book was probably our visit in 2015, seeing the effects of the earthquake firsthand. We have long known of some of the socio-economic challenges this nation faces, but this was new. We could no longer go away and say we did not know. That is part of the reason why a South African lawyer and a photographer are now on the brink of opening a food business in Nepal. So if you ever visit and we are finished with the red tape of setting up an enterprise in Nepal, please look for some South African decadence in Kathmandu, and remember that a long history has led up to that "mitho" or "lekker" delicacy.

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