When I think about being back in Canada, I already dread answering the vague question of “So Kelsey, how was Nepal?” Nepal is such a beautiful, complex, frustrating, surprising and confusing place that I don’t know how I can do it justice with a 30 second response. How do I explain Nepal’s exceptional landscape? A country about the size of the Canadian Maritime provinces has both the tallest mountain in the world and jungles roaming with tigers, with a sharp contrast between the chaos of Kathmandu with the serenity of the country side. How do I explain the ethnic diversity of Nepal? Not only is it a majority Hindu country with clear Tibetan influences, Nepal is also home to many different ethnic groups with their own dialects. It is also a place where you can go to the same restaurant three times, order the same meal three times and be served something different every time.
However, what gets to me the most is how will I explain the genuine kindness of its inhabitants? I have never once here felt threatened by anything other than cars or monkeys, even as a woman. People are kind and always willing to help. On Holi, everyone was in the streets and genuinely happy, and clearly wanted to share that joy with their communities. Yet, I don’t think there is a better example of the kindness of the Nepalese people than how they treat animals. Before coming here, I got the rabies vaccine because I was afraid of the street dogs; I’ve began calling them community dogs because it is more representative. Everyone seems to do their best to help out the animals. I have often seen people feed random dogs just because they look hungry. At the monastery, the monks cover the guard dogs with blankets at night because it is cold outside. Although the Nepalese generally do not have much, they are generous and compassionate.
So how was Nepal? That is a question with many answers. I don’t want to reduce my experiences here to a single narrative. It was confusing, amazing, frustrating, exceptional and inspiring all at the same time. I have a deep appreciation for the time I have spent here. The unpredictable nature of Nepal is truly its biggest charm and source of learning. As my return to Canada lurks around the corner, I know all my family and friends will want to know about my time here. It stresses me to think about how I will answer their questions and if my answers will meet their expectations.