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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008


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We've been home for longer than we were gone, and I really feel like this isn't real, like I left my life behind at swagat overour last meal of daal bhat, like I can't possibly function without another mo-mo or cup of milk tea, and yet I do. This fall I changed far more than Iever expected. But rather than make me feel different, it made me feel likeI had become something thatI was always meant to be, so much more real. Nepal is a beautiful cocoon for a teenage girl, and butterflies like to fly. I'm not flying. My life is wonderful; I have great friends and many luxuries. Unfortunately luxuries are nothing compared to the jammed streets of kathmandu, and the toothless grin of a sadhu at pashupatinath temple. I prefer the feeling of dirt under my nails than polish on them, and fresh yogurt is better than yoplait. With my new view of hard work, and something to be motivated to achieve I am currently working hard to afford to send myself back to Asia. I plan to continue this incomplete journey as soon as possible. I wonder how the rest of you feel at this point. Where have you found yourself after three months home? Are you setting out on new adventures? Or have you learned to treat home more like traveling by exploring yourself and your own area more (something thatI am struggling with)? Have your goals changed? I am excited to see where the next year takes me, hopefully with more traveling and starting college. I hope that you are all as excited as me.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Reflections on home.

Chrissy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We’ve been home for longer than we were gone, and I really feel like this isn’t real, like I left my life behind at swagat overour last meal of daal bhat, like I can’t possibly function without another mo-mo or cup of milk tea, and yet I do. This fall I changed far more than […]

Posted On

03/23/09

Author

Chrissy

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    [post_content] => Nepal, you gave me so much. So much freedom, and joy, and frustration. Working in Sabin's shop making metal into beautiful things, and my hands intobeautiful tools, you gave me art. Sitting in my candle-lit kitchen making mo-mos with my family of strangers, you gave me a home. On the floor of that little house in Chowkati, I ate roasted soy beans and popcorn, and even though I didn't always know what was being said to me, you gave me understanding. You gave me perfect days, and mosquito-bitten nights. You gave me friends, and you gave me teachers. Elephants, and tiger-hunts. You gave me street-dogs, and holy cows. Tihar and Dashai. Oh Nepal, you gave me so much life, and so much inspiration to do more with mine. How canI ever repay you, Nepal?
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Nepal

Christine Anderson,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Nepal, you gave me so much. So much freedom, and joy, and frustration. Working in Sabin’s shop making metal into beautiful things, and my hands intobeautiful tools, you gave me art. Sitting in my candle-lit kitchen making mo-mos with my family of strangers, you gave me a home. On the floor of that little house […]

Posted On

01/10/09

Author

Christine Anderson

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All of my clothing smells; I have not taken a hot shower in three months; my palat craves comforting foods; and my soul craves the embrace of family and childhood friends.

I am ready to go home but at the same time I look around and absentmindedly plan future weeks in Nepal that don't exist. I spin dreams of greater journeys through Asia, and I look at my newfound interest in South Asia and wonder if I would fall in love with parts of Africa if I spent this much time there and went so deeply.

I humor myself that I am preparing myself for reverse culture shock by eating more imported snacks and ordering less Dahl Bhat; I read fiction instead of relevent analysis of Nepal.

I am intimidated by the thought of being surrounded by old forms that I have come to see in a more objective and critical light. Christmas and the American materialism it embodies this fear. I also do not want to fall back into certain dynamics and certain constructions within my own personality. But if I allow fear to dominate the way I look at coming back then I will retreat into quiet abstraction characterized by distain for my native culture.

My greatest challenge now is to look at all I have learned and proactively apply it to my life at home: use my new insights to change old habits and improve my happiness and lifestyle. I am inspired to explore my home, New York City, with the same curiosity and beginer's eyes that I brought to Kathmandu. I am inspired to bring what I learned about minimalism and the destitute home and shake off the dust that lines my thoughts about environmental responsibility and service work for the hungry and suffering that surround me in my home.

I also want to take returning home as an opportunity to better understand exactly what has happened to me here and hopefully this process will fill me with a determination to return to Ladakh and Nepal with more questions and more fervor than I even had this time.

I want to thank my instructors; they were inspiring beyond what I conceived possible.

I want to thank my fellow students for the loving support and evironment they created, but this is hardly a goodbye to all of these friendships that are just now budding.

Love always,

Charlotte

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Goodbye

Charlotte T. McCurdy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

All of my clothing smells; I have not taken a hot shower in three months; my palat craves comforting foods; and my soul craves the embrace of family and childhood friends. I am ready to go home but at the same time I look around and absentmindedly plan future weeks in Nepal that don’t exist. […]

Posted On

12/5/08

Author

Charlotte T. McCurdy

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We come home in two days. It's really amazing to think back on all we've accomplished. Here's a short list.

6 Weeks of homestays, two in very rural, self sustainingvillages.

Summiting 20,000ft.

Seeing a lamo, and shamen healer.

Visiting countless Buddhist Gompas, hindu temples, and Muslim Mosques.

10 days at a monastery, some of the time in silence.

4 weeks of Independent Study Projects.

and so much more!

See you all soon in the states.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Coming home

Adam Starek,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We come home in two days. It’s really amazing to think back on all we’ve accomplished. Here’s a short list. 6 Weeks of homestays, two in very rural, self sustainingvillages. Summiting 20,000ft. Seeing a lamo, and shamen healer. Visiting countless Buddhist Gompas, hindu temples, and Muslim Mosques. 10 days at a monastery, some of the […]

Posted On

12/5/08

Author

Adam Starek

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We have just returned from a restful week in Chaukati. While living with Nepali families of the Thami ethnic group we also spent an afternoon at their school organizing a trash clean up day which ended with a party at the school where we sang our national anthem and a few of us followed our Nepali friends' lead and did a little dancing as well...

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Village stay

Instructors,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We have just returned from a restful week in Chaukati. While living with Nepali families of the Thami ethnic group we also spent an afternoon at their school organizing a trash clean up day which ended with a party at the school where we sang our national anthem and a few of us followed our […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Instructors

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To get to Chaukati, where we have just been for eight days, is about an hour and a half walk from the closest bus stop. On the way there, the group opted for the longer route, for an incredible walk with the picturesque Middle Hills as our backdrop. After four hours of walking, we made it to Budapa which is the closest bus stop, and continued uphill to the Thami village. It had no electricity, no running water, no clean water, and only 4 teachers for the 300 kids in the school. The hills were all terraced (which made for a vast pallette in the colors that composed them) and the livelihood is purely agricultural. My family woke up at 4:30 to clean the dishes from dinner the night before and went to bed around 8 pm, exhausted from a days work that differed only slightly from the previous day's work and from the work they would do the next day. It took me a while to realize though that modernity was just around the corner. One afternoon, Jori, Gabe and I went for a long hike up into the jungle above the village and on our way down, we heard the melody of a TATA (the Indian car company that recently bought Land Rover, Aston Martin and another subsidary of Ford) bus honking its horn. It struck me that modernization doesn't really have limits. Even this far out in the wilderness, away from the life that we have become so accustomed to in Kathmandu, the villagers have an obsession with asking us for money, and question the cost of almost anything of ours that they see. ANd even that far away, we could still hear the bus's horn

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Village

Bo swindell,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

To get to Chaukati, where we have just been for eight days, is about an hour and a half walk from the closest bus stop. On the way there, the group opted for the longer route, for an incredible walk with the picturesque Middle Hills as our backdrop. After four hours of walking, we made […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Bo swindell

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    [post_content] => Several days ago, while in the rural village of Chaukati, i noticed that a small insect had landed on my head.  Brushing it off, i was surprized to feel a painful sting. The insect was a bee, and thus, i had been stung between my middle and ring fingers.  Having never had an allergic reaction to bee stings in the past, I was suprized and slightly concerned when my hand began to swell up.  However, going to bed that night, I was sure that the swelling would subside by morning.  Surprized was I then when i awoke to find a right hand that resembled a latex surgeuical glove over-inflated with water.  Despite the significant swelling, however, i still wasn't too nervous about my condition.  In fact, it wasn't untill two days later when the swelling continued to remain, that I really began to worry.  Coincidentally, that third night, I was informed that our group would have the oppurtunity to observe a shamanic healer treat his patients.  During the ceremony, the shaman offered to take any people suffering any ailments and perform an ancient form of ritualistic healing.  Curious by the prospect and nervous about my abnormally large hand, I decided to try the Shaman's method of treatment.  The ritual was elaborate, consisting of drumming, dancing, and blowing of horns.  Although I found the ceremony interesting, I was skeptical of its healing potential.  However, by the next morning the swelling had completely subsided.  I am still not sure about what I think about the effectivness of shamnic healing, but the experience has definitely got me thinking.
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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an ancient cure for an unexpected problem

Jack Fields,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Several days ago, while in the rural village of Chaukati, i noticed that a small insect had landed on my head. Brushing it off, i was surprized to feel a painful sting. The insect was a bee, and thus, i had been stung between my middle and ring fingers. Having never had an allergic reaction […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Jack Fields

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After having spent 8 days in the beautiful village of Chokati nestled in the middle of the jungle, I have to say that Kathmandu's pollution seems more striking, the motor bikes seem more threatening, the honking horns seem more daunting... and I already miss waterfalls.
So one afternoon, as the group was sitting around Manbahador's house (the big man in the village), some of us decided it was time to go on a little adventure. With Gabe as our guide Allana, Jori, Meri, James, and me all set off into the jungle. As we followed the path we soon found ourselves a good ways out of the village, turning around to see nothing but remarkably blue skies, endlessly terraced mountain faces, and mud houses in the distance; ahead, the path was becoming more magestic by the minute. When I say magestic, I mean it actually felt like at any given point a unicorn was going to pop out from behind a tree (and then maybe a couple of cameras filming a special on the Lord of the Rings). The path became progressively more narrow, and the stone "steps" guiding us up more slippery. We could hear to our right a thunderous waterfall, making us only more anxious to get to wherever this path was taking us.

Eventually we decided to take one of the off-shoots of the path into a special place that Gabe had told us about. When we found the little path, we made our way down some rocks and looked up to find crystalline water pools surrounded by little caves embedded with rocks being drowned by flowing water. The pools were about waist high and undoubtedly colllld mountain water. Soon enough we were bouldering on mossy rocks holding on tightly to whatever piece of dry rock we could find. I took off my shoes thinking that my bare feet would have ultimately better traction than my sneakers... and at first they did. I climbed up successfully, but my way down was a little less graceful. As I tried to calculate the best way to make my way around a large rock, I found myself all of sudden in the pool with my legs feeling just as cold as my feet had been- the water figured it out for me.... good thing I packed quick dry.

I turned around and watched as Allana followed slipped knee-deep into the water, and then James successfully drenching only one leg. Gabe was a little less resistant, probably making his way into that beautiful pool in the most intelligent way... intentionally.

It seems so surreal to think that just three days ago I was in the middle of the jungle in Nepal and that in seven I will be surrounded by soaring cement and glass buildings and English speaking people. To go from a smokey fire under a circular piece of metal with a stand for a stove, to electric stoves; from a bathroom located in the midst of bamboo leaves composed of a ditch with flat stones to stand on, to a bathroom located no more than 7 steps away from my bed with toilet paper, a flush, and a clean place to sit; from straw mats and mud floors, to a soft, high-set bed to sleep on. I have to say that it is going to be quite a shift. But in its own way everything contains beauty... and I hope that after having experienced all of this, I will carry the curiousity that I have cultivated here back with me, and perhaps look at all of the amazing opportunities that I have back at home with more appreciative eyes.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Jungle wonderfulness!

Cella Hausen,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

After having spent 8 days in the beautiful village of Chokati nestled in the middle of the jungle, I have to say that Kathmandu’s pollution seems more striking, the motor bikes seem more threatening, the honking horns seem more daunting… and I already miss waterfalls.So one afternoon, as the group was sitting around Manbahador’s house […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Cella Hausen

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I emerge now from a week in village homestay in Chaukati which resides to the northeast of Kathmandu just hours from the Tibetan border - tempting. To get there we hiked for six hours.... up stairs, but it was enjoyable overall because the sights along the way include glimpses of the snow peaks, diving into lush jungles and thousands of "Namastes" to locals on the road and squealing school children gazing down on the rare westerners from the hilltop schools.

Arriving late at night I met my host sister Durga who welcomed me into her home and her life. She is 14 and does all of the cooking and housework for her home while attending school mid-day. Her mother is still alive but too weak to care for her family as she has an injury in her ankle that has not healed for three years. Perhaps shocking to western conceptions, she had seven daughters and two sons but because the sons passed away in their childhood the father was obliged by his culture to take a second wife in hopes of having a son. This second wife is kind and sweet, much younger than the original couple, and has born two daughters so far.

Chaukati offerd a wealth of exploration. Culturally it was interesting to stay in a village of a tiny ethnic minority, the Tami people. To the east a river cut through jungle in waterfalls and mumering pools. It is important to note that at this level of remoteness the spiritual outlook is animism; therefore, climbing up the river passed homemade hydropowered stone mills, I was in my right to sit beneath the largest waterfalls and granite outcroppings to meditate and pray to the Naga (snake river spirit). Four days later when we were asked to write a leter to ourselves about how we had changed on this trip I thought it only right to return to this rivier but farther up towards the headwaters as it was in my conversation with the Naga (which in practical terms was a process of reflection strengthened by external articulation) that I realized that I had made an essentail shift in my personal philosophy. Without going into the metephysics of my highly abstracted world view, I came to see that I had shifted from my absolute emphasis on the mind to now having a much stronger grounding in my body and soul and the validity of the physical plane. In this way rather than mourning the purposeless of action in a nihilistic construct that saw all action as trivial in the context of an infanite reality, I have come to realize that this outlook has no practical reference to my life that is grounded in the physical world: though perhaps reality is infinite it is finite and evolving through infinite time. In this way action and achievement in life is valid because it directs the course of the world through potential reality.

So... I ate popcorn for breakfast every morning, and bought a bunch of knives from Kami blacksmiths still working with hand cranked bellows and grinders and homemade charcoal. One day I went to the neighboring town Lathoo to see a wonderful temple built around an ancient tree, riddled with jaurasic looking ferns, which straddled a stream that fanned into 10 fountains a level down from the shrine. One afternoon we went up to the school just uphill from the village core to help do a villagewide trash pickup with the kids: as Chaukati is starting to develope a cash economy plastic goods from the nearest town with road access are finding their way into the town and with no disposal system the wrappers and undegradable substances are lingering around an otherwise pristine village. A jakri (the local breed of Shaman) came to perform a healing ritual where he went into trance harnessing and controlling a spirit.

The overwhelming sensation in Chaukati is that this is how people have always lived their lives and are supposed to live their lives.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Chaukati and revelations

Charlotte T. McCurdy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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I emerge now from a week in village homestay in Chaukati which resides to the northeast of Kathmandu just hours from the Tibetan border – tempting. To get there we hiked for six hours…. up stairs, but it was enjoyable overall because the sights along the way include glimpses of the snow peaks, diving into […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Charlotte T. McCurdy

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My didi and I had planned the night before that we would wake up at 6, eat popped corn and soy beans, drink some tea, and then head out to "gas katna" (cutting grass) for the animals to eat. Waking up early was never a real problem. My didi and I slept upstairs, in the midst of the recent millet crop that they had collected. I slept on the dirt floor with millet at my feet, and she in a small bed just to the left of me. Every morning when she would wake up, which was usually just before 6am, she would go downstairs and begin a fire. The houses in Chokati were not built with any ventilation system, and therefore smoke would collect in the upstairs, and basically suffocate me awake. There was really no sleeping once the fire had started. I shuffled down the rickety steps, did the routine coughing and tearing from the smoke, and then sat down on a mat across from my didi. Dimly lit by the fire, i watched as she cooked the tea, and corn.

After we had eaten and sipped on our tea, she handed me a sickle and we were out the door. It was about 7am when we got under way, and it was a crisp morning. With the sun just about to rise over the ridge, and the normal thick cloud cover, it was quite cool for most of the walk. As I was walking I was completely absorbed in my surroundings, but I soon noticed that Didi was stopping, looking up into the terraced hill, and yelling at someone or something. I asked "Ke bayo didi?" and she pointed up into the hillside and replied, "Kukur." Our dog, Adjun had somehow ventured very high in the terraced hillside, and was staring down at us. Didi began stomping her feet, yelling "SHHHH SHHHH" and throwing rocks down the terrace below us. I was a bit surprised by the abrupt behavior, but when i looked up again, Adjun was flying down the hill, bounding down from terrace to terrace. When he finally reached us, he looked like the happiest dog in the world, and we gave him some serious lovin' for a few minutes. We continued on our walk with Adjun obediently tagging along behind us. After about an hour we finally reached her uncle's field, which was full of millet, grass, trees and bushes. All the villagers already working in the field got a big kick out of me coming down there to work, and stared at me for a good 10 minutes. We hopped down to the millet terrace, and she began showing me how to cut the "gas".

*oop. Typical, right as im writing my yak yak something goes wrong. The internet cafe guy just told me that the computer is about to shut down, so i will post this now, and i guess continue it later...

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Life in Chokati

Meriwether Denman,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

My didi and I had planned the night before that we would wake up at 6, eat popped corn and soy beans, drink some tea, and then head out to "gas katna" (cutting grass) for the animals to eat. Waking up early was never a real problem. My didi and I slept upstairs, in the […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Meriwether Denman

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