I am writing from Sikles, a Gurung village at 2000m here inside the Annapurna Conservation Area in Central Nepal. Yesterday, I came back from a very cold dip in the Kahpuche Glacial at the source of Madi river having walked over 11 hours on steep treacherous paths. I’m with a groups of friends who are kayaking all the major rivers of Nepal on Mission East to West, a 5 month long expedition. I cannot kayak but I help them with logistics, safety and rescue and get to join them on their time off the river for some exploring. Today we’ll be spending time in this village, exploring around and specifically learning about and filming how women make bhangra (a traditional Gurung clothing) out of stinging nettle/allo plant.
I grew up in Nepal, but spent most of my childhood in Kathmandu Valley. Since this was where my family was, there was never any reason to venture out of the valley and my ‘trips’ in Nepal had been quite limited. I studied in the US for six years between 2010 and 2016. From learning Portuguese in Brazil, researching Conservation and Development in Namibia to studying Geography in the Czech Republic, I had the opportunity to explore five continents through study abroad programs, research, volunteer and travel opportunities created by institutions that were grounded in experiential learning and community service
Still, I felt a growing gap between my identity as a Nepali (being one of two Nepalis at an international school in the US) and my knowledge of Nepal. I had only known about Nepal through the lens of Kathmandu and I knew there was a lot I still had to learn about and in my own incredible country. I used many of my off terms during my undergraduate career to come back to Nepal and work in education, public health and earthquake relief. After graduation, I came back and have since been exploring rural Nepal, especially the west, through solo travel, volunteering and research.
Moving back to Nepal after graduation has been one of the biggest joys of my life. It has given me a relaxed pace and incredible opportunities to explore Nepal on my own terms. I’ve had incredible flexibility as a freelance researcher, writer and adventurer and my work and friendships have taken me to incredible nooks and crannies of this small country.
Nepal is so incredibly diverse – in landscapes, in culture, in the adventures it offers your mind, body and soul. I am still learning about new ethnic groups, new places, new music, new religions..this is a land that will keep giving new gifts to those who are ready to explore. This place has also given me incredible opportunities to share my knowledge through training and mentoring. More than anything it has taught me that learning and exploring takes place anytime and anywhere you want to, all you need is a curious mind and some compassion and people and landscapes will gladly share their knowledge with you.
As Dragons students, I hope you will have a rich experience in a place I hold so dear. I’m sure these experiences will help you grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually and I’m so excited to be able to mentor you through this journey. I’m also excited to be working with a group of experienced Dragons instructors (you will be my first cohort!). I have had an amazing time delving into the complexity that is Nepal and I can’t wait to share the next few months with you!
Feel free to email me at [email protected] with questions or concerns, I’ll be traveling but will be happy to help you in any way I can before the course starts!