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Never Ending Peace And Love – Reflections on a first encounter with NEPAL

Temple in Katmandu

Part 1

My time in Nepal is drawing to a close. For this time...
Impossible to summarise this amazing country, but in short it has been a peak experience. Peak time with peak people in peak country.
The nature is unquestionably one of its kind, with both jungle and the highest peaks of this planet within sight. And the people, to a large extent poor, but with a richness of soul and spirit that is overwhelming; generous, kind, humble and proud at the same time. But most amazing has been our way to approach it; walking, talking and singing...
I feel that our "Sång & Gång" concept, our "walk & sing" adventures that we now have developed for almost 30 years have found an ultimate form here. We walk into the villages, meeting people eye-level, share a song, and walk out of there with a garland around our necks and a blessing on our foreheads.

And a smile in our hearts and a sense of taking part in a real transformative meeting. For both parties.

All of this has been made possible by the most amazing team around us.

Anil met us at the airport with a smile and a garland. And has never left our sides. He has twice reached the summit of Mount Everest, in five attempts, not for his own pleasure but enabling others to reach their highest ambitions. A kind of man in whose hands you'd happily leave your life if you had to... And the team that he has built around him has the kind of experience and nous that you can't find any other place. The routines are performed with utmost dedication and humility; transporting the gear and food up to next night's camp, starting the cooking, setting up the tents, serving an amazing meal and then a few hours sleep before the morning routines take over. All of this so that we can do what we love to do the most; Walking in this fairyland of a landscape, talking with the people we meet – if only in a Namaste-greeting accompanied with the warmest of smiles – and with the other friends of the path. And then every once in a while, when you can't stop yourself any longer, you burst out singing as the most appropriate way to react to the grandeur of Creation around you. The biggest praise should of course go to our own Inka Gurung, from Far Away Adventures and near Dala-Floda, who invites us to share her own personal story of making sense of her worlds and getting them to fit nicely together. I must also give an hommage to the group that came along this time, spanning an age gap of 75 years between the oldest and the youngest participating walker. And both did it in style and hungry for more. Maybe you are in this group next time...? It will sharpen your eye, soften your heart and strengthen your lungs in a way you did not think possible. And you come out of it with a new perspective on life and your place in it.

Our oldest participant, Lisbeth 84, meets sister on the road. 
I will over a couple of days share some of the wealth of images and memories from this trip, as I embark on the next. And I do it with a mark on my forehead, a smile on my lips and a Namaste-greeting of gratitude to a peaceful people. Nepal; Never Ending Peace And Love...

Part 2


How people move about says quite a lot about a society. When I first encountered the Nepali traffic, all red flags were waving. No seatbelts, no margins, no nothing separating me on the roadside from the abyss. And a lot of hooting. But then, when I started to look with less fearful eyes and hear with less prejudgement another picture emerged. The hooting before the hairpin-curves is a kind of coded morse that is a language of care, the small margins are a way of taking care of limited resources. We have not seen nor experienced any accidents or signs of it, no wrecked cars, actually, no single dent on any car… I don’t have the statistics here, but there definitely is another culture at display here, another way of perceiving your fellow traveler on the road. In our society, where time is money the other is perceived like an entity that wants to take your lane, your part of your road, your time and in the end your profit. Rage is our reaction to when we feel bereft of what we regard as duly ours. Here there is another ethos at play. A collective mind that wants everyone to get there as quickly and as safely as possible. Seeing you is seeing me. Just as we exchange our “Namastes” when we meet walking on the paths, – and what a way to meet; “The divine in me sees the divine in you!” – there is still an underlying Namaste in the most chaotic morning rush in Katmandu. Seeing you is in the end seeing me, even when you sit on your scooter. Your need to get to where you want also serves my need.

I feel humbled here over the many times I have in our stressful reality at home seen the other fellow traveler not as fellow but as a competitor of time and space. And I realize how ugly I look in that situation. This will be one of my lessons to take home. Be it in the midst of a mad rush: I will take every opportunity to greet every single fellowtraveller with raised and united hands above my heart and with a warm smile say; God in me sees God in you, fellow sojourner on our common path!

Of course it is easy to raise this issue to an even more abstract level, and I think we need to. We are living on a planet where the margins get smaller and smaller. We need to handle our time and space more wisely. In our society “competition” has become the buzz-word that most shades of the political spectrum has taken as the rallying call. If we compete we are most efficient. We, as a Western society, have to do a big U-turn here. It is when we cooperate that we use the resources best. It is when we see the other as friend and potential playmate and not foe or competitor that we get the flow in the feeds that we need.

Quickly preparing supper on stone-age tool

Part 3 

Women at campsite, with Manaslu in background


Having had the rim of Himalaya’s snowcapped range, and especially Manaslu, on my retina for some weeks now, challenges me not only how I see time, but how I see space. Manaslu in its original Sanskrit means “Holy Mountain”. That’s how it has been perceived here. Distant yet ever present, transcendent yet immanent, far away yet part of me; the concept of holiness is easier understood in the light of having a mountain range like the Himalayas close by to relate to.

Our western, Cartesian, dualistic mindset is something else. We are steeped in the tradition of Descartes where nature, even the animals became inanimate, became part of Res Extensa, "things" and thus something for man to explore and dominate.

This has hunted the concept of holiness far off the European mindmaps and also had great impact on our physical maps. We in the Nordic countries are still a last frontier of that map/mindmap frontier war. When the big mining companies still want to explore ancient Sami lands where the concept of holy and the very practical day to day living issues of being a reindeer herdsman coalesce into one, we have that frontier war right on our doorstep.

Manaslu and undulating football field

Waking up to the beauty of Manaslu in the distance fills me with such reverence and awe. The mountain represents something that is so much more than its already imposing physical grandeur. It represents the concept of something holy, a planet we are not allowed to exploit for our own short-term and selfish needs or greeds.
The biggest struggle in our struggle to preserve our beautiful Gaia, this pearl of an organism suspended in the universe we call our home, is to fight to get the concept of holiness back in our vocabulary and in our minds. Walking the dusty roads of Nepal, meeting and greeting the poor people who have learned to survive, through greeting each other with a Namaste and through seeing the mountains as holy – always present but never fully attainable – is a big gift and an eyeopener.

Having had the opportunity to talk to Anil about this has given even more wonderful insights. He grew up in the vicinity of Mount Everest and saw from his childhood the emergence of European groups of mountaineers in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillery literary walking past his humble home. And he rummaged through all the garbage they left on the roadside to see if there was anything that they could have use for in their struggle for survival. Survived he has because in the end the mountaineers had much use for Anil, he became a trusted guide and “Sherpa” ¬ although ethnically not a Sherpa but of Brahmin ancestry – for the teams of climbers that just continued to climb – in altitude as well as in numbers.

Me in Anils Hotel

Anil has made a good life out of his situation, the last two nights I lived in the hotel in Katmandu that he co-owns and runs, but he has not left his source and his roots. He knows still that the Mountain is holy, he knows that the Namaste he is sharing with everyone on the road goes for Buddhist and Hindu alike. The respect for mountain and man is basically the same.

We have a job to do. Lessons to learn. In a situation where we in the west are struggling with basic issues of human dignity in our political discourse, we need to learn to raise our minds and our hands to a Namaste that includes everyone and we need to raise our gaze to the mountain. From whence will my help come, Oh Lord? It will come from the mountain when we learn to see it for what it is. Holy, unassailable, part of me.

Namaste Manaslu. We hail you. And as we do we hail ourselves and all our fellow walkers on the Path.


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