After an hour long, chiya filled Nepali class first thing in the morning, our group headed north to meet where the plains become the hills and the Koshi River shifts in width and strength. Our drive took us through the flat lands of the Terai, which now are stripped bare due to persistent winds and grazing cattle and goats. In a few months they once again will be covered with the waters of the monsoon, and then the fall vegetation will grow, and the yearly cycle will be complete, and restart again.
We arrived at the Koshi Bridge, which acts as a link between land that differs in geology, geography, and climate: from the open lands of Koshi River’s alluvial fan to the vegetation covered hillsides that hold it in. It passes over the Koshi River, Nepal’s biggest river. Koshi, or Kosi, moves millions of liters of water and all types of sediment down from the Tibetan Plateau, through the Himalayas and hills slowing and emptying into the Terai and carrying on to India, eventually connecting with the Ganges, and many other river systems. It provides fertile soil and groundwater, which brings many subsistence farmers to occupy its banks. The flooding from the monsoon, however, ruins arable land and forces families and communities to relocate, year after year.
Our group sat along the banks of the Koshi and watched tourists from Nepal and India on the bridge above. We played in the sand and told stories and noted the plastic coca-cola bottles which floated by, lightly twirling on the surface of the murky water. We told riddles and did math problems and showed photos of our families and the rocks we kept in our pockets.
The hours passed, and we waited for lunch. “What is taking so long?” a question out of curiosity, not frustration, was uttered often.
Just as we had been observing the water, our group turned its attention to what was happening around us. Staff from the restaurant coming and going, carrying bags full of vegetables and meat. Steam and smoke rising from the kitchen. The sound of chopping and stirring, frying and boiling. When we arrived looking for lunch there were no bags of pre-frozen momo’s waiting for us. There were not enough vegetables to feed the stomachs of sixteen. So the staff of the restaurant went to the market, as we sat and drank chiya. And when they returned and washed the vegetables and fried the chicken and rolled out, filled, and folded momo’s, we continued to sit, this time eating popcorn. Our food arrived on its own time, when it was ready. Freshly made. We exercised patience, we appreciated process.
“What did you do today?” a question we so often want to answer with lists of activities and meaningful interactions and new learnings. Do do do do do. But there is something to be said about sitting and observing as an act of doing. Patience brings awareness brings knowledge. And so, Sunday, we did and saw, and now know: nourishment takes time. Alongside the conduit Koshi, we honored patience.