Leaving Nepal with a bang – and a flight

Part of me wishes that vacations ended on a bad note or with some grand conclusion so that you would be ready to go back to your day-to-day activities. Granted, getting a phone call so many times from an unknown number so that you actually pick up the phone, only to find out one of your kids has been trying to call you to speak with you for a few days, is a great way to go back to work; however, I’m not really to leave Nepal, to stop experiencing a new culture and having new experiences.
Today I had an amazing, fantastic, life-changing, dream fulfilling experience. Yes, it was that amazing. I went paragliding. It’s been one of my dreams for as long as I can remember; if I had any super power, flying is in my top 3. It was one of the scariest but most beautiful experiences ever. After Manoj mentioned that we should do it, got the idea stirring in my head, last night I finally decided to say we should just go for it. We went at 7:00 last night to book our spot. We did it on gut feeling. The first place we visited was cheaper, but the guy didn’t really sell it, he had tobacco teeth and was kind of blah. We went to Sunrise (I think that’s the name) and the guy, Sachin, was awesome and excited and a pilot himself. I was fine until I met my pilot and Manoj was already getting strapped in for his ride. My pilot was a Frenchman who had been living in Nepal for 5 years; he even speaks Nepalese (which I find completely impressive). He was older and has been flying for over 20 years. I was preparing myself and did a great job so that when we were finally flying I wasn’t shaking, but I didn’t have any feeling in my hands. They didn’t stop tingling until 10 minutes after we landed. I’ve never felt like that ever. There must have been at least 25 other Para gliders flying at the same time. At one point Erwin (I think that was his name) took me to almost the other side of the mountain where we were flying all by ourselves. He screamed trees as we came super close to them on the side of one part of the mountain; he freaked me out but in a good way. In the end we did some tricks that included gliding downwards from side to side; I might have been ridiculously freaked out at this point in time but in full knowledge that he was in complete control; he said that the birds will always be his teachers as we were flying with some eagles earlier. It was awesome! Apparently there’s a week or two long course to become certified in Pune. I might just jump on that bandwagon!
Some other differences between India and Nepal – to the best of my observations – people wear helmets while on motorcycles and don’t always take them off while they walk around sometimes; it rains when it’s not rainy season; the pollution and amount of visible destruction of nature is insane. While we’re on the topic of pollution, I wouldn’t be me unless I mentioned about how sad it is to see such a beautiful land being destroyed. Along the way to Pokhara from Kathmandu you see all of these construction areas where land is just in the progress of being dug up, the land is visibly ripped up and is being destroyed in front of everyone’s eyes. I think I might have counted 15 or so such sites. How can you not see the Himalayas? The fog is noticeably from pollution. I feel like in another 10 years, people won’t come anymore to see the mountains because they’ll all be completely invisible because of pollution. I can almost understand it in a bigger city like Kathmandu, but a good 4 hours outside of the city in the country air, I expected it to be different. I’m saddened for the people, for the earth.
The ride back was a test of my patience. I’m not a patient person at all. The driver, as my mom put it probably has some visual spatial perception issues. Every time an oncoming car came he would veer to the side and jam on the brakes a bit. When there were other cars around he would slow down (which was often) and he never went above 50km/hr. It was long, really long. It also tested my “foreigner” patience a little bit. At one rest stop the price of the chips and soda was rubbed off. I know in general how much it should cost and the coke was more than double the price and the chips, triple. I wanted to argue but I didn’t.
As soon as we reached we changed and headed directly to Thamel for food. We got a nice restaurant that is kind of doing us all a disservice at this moment in time (at the airport waiting to get back to Delhi). The waiter of course asked where we were from; everyone always asks and is interested in people’s native countries. When I said that I live in India he said, “Hindi ati hei kya?” (do you speak Hindi) and I of course said yes. It was the most awesome conversation ever because it was entirely in Hindi for the rest of the night. I was impressed with myself. He also said that we should go out later, that I should meet him and he’d show me Nepali culture but I stood him up. After being asked if your married or have a boyfriend it would make it an awkward night – or maybe that was just my assumption. Instead I wrote and slept.
Nepal is pretty awesome and I’d love to come back and spend more time here to explore the mountains and culture a bit more. I love it because everyone is also so nice. If I could, I’d do a PhD program researching why some countries just have nice people and how to maybe integrate some of their culture into some other cultures that don’t have innately nice or warm people; essentially, how to make the world a nicer place.

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