Visiting the Nepali Yoga Women's Trust and Ewan's shave!
Thursday and we have a day off. Well sort of. We seem to have gotten into a routine whre we are full on one day and then take the next day to integrate and breath!
So we are up super early as usual and go to Yoga for 7.30am but there is no one else there aside from Devika and as there is electricity she is chanting away to Deva Premel, which does nothing for Ewan so he leaves me to it while he goes for a walk along the lake.
We manage about 25 minutes of chanting until the electricity goes off (8am, rather normal these days)and so we practise along side each other, Devika sitting in meditation and me doing my usual post-trekking practise. All rather lovely, a bit like old times, only that we don't then spend the rest of the day lounging around the Yoga centre in our own little Yoga bubble.
Instead Ewan meets me and we head off for our usual breakfast by the lake in the warming sun. I love this time in the morning, when Lakeside is waking up (much later than it would do in the high season) and you hear all the shutters being pulled up and people wafting incense outside the front of their shops and sprinkling water onto the pavement (I am guessing this is to ward off bad energies and bring prosperity) nd lots of greetings of "Namaste".
There are some morning sounds over here I don't so much enjoy. The men (not all men and I must admit I do hear women doing it too) have this thing about coughing up phlegm and spitting it out to the side of the road. The first time I visited nepal and especially when trekking, I was totally repulsed by this morning sound, it was certainly enough to put me off my breakfast, but I must admit that you kind of get used to it and now Ewan and I just chuckle about it instead.
When I was volunteering in a borading school in Kathmandu a few years ago, we ended up taking the health studies class. In their textboks the children were being taught all sorts of "health" things, like not coughing up phlegm and spitting, nor eating with hands and making sure to wash hands and brush teeth and wash etc. Strangely I was aware that when we were eating with Narayan and his family they were all now using spoons to eat their Dahl Bhat whereas last time I visited they were still eating with their right hand (and believe me this is not as easy as it looks, what with the dhal mixed with the rice). So I guess things are changing and with that chnage, perhaps less of the phlegm noise!
Anyhow we did some more shopping - see it gets addictive this whole bartering thing, plus we have the excuse of buying Christmas presents for everyone. And then more Dahl Bhat at Devika's sister's house this time. I love going to eat at Devika's place as the food is always so super healthy and we are not encouraged to eat more than is necessary. So we enjoyed the novelty of brown rice, plus a lovely pickle with fresh spices, lots of home-grown spinach and tasty curd. Yum.
After lunch we walked with Devika to the Trust's shop so I could have a proper look and meet the women again. It is great these days because the women are no longer shy around me and their English has improved so that they are able to understand what we are saying - unfortunatly my Nepali has suffered by my 18 month absence, although I hope to get that sorted next time. I would LOVE to speak Neapli fluently, it would make life so much more fun and interesting when in Nepal as I would understand what people are saying to me (and about me!) and have more bargaining power (it is not necessary to speak Nepali out here by the way, speaking English is deemed the golden ticket to make money in and out of the country so everyone tries to learn it).
The Trust is growing from strength to strength, it really is. I must admit that I stepped back from it the last year, a combination of committing to life in Guersey and also being sick over the summer, so that actually I didn't have so much energy to give. However this has all worked out for the best (or so I feel) as it has forced Devika to really stand on her own two feet (as I have been trying to do myself) and taken me and my impatience out of the equation (I am not so impatient these days by the way, one of the joys of a regular Yoga practise perhaps) and provided the space - and indeed the grounding (think feet) for things to manifest.
So that now there are 7 women (and their families) benefitting from the Trust. Naina has taken a break as she has recently had a baby and needs to be at home with her new son, but we have been joined by 3 others so numbers are higher than ever. One of the ladies is known to me personally - her husband, Dill, was one of the porters on the trek I initially did wih my parents a few years ago and then again last year with Ewan. Mum and Dad developed a real fondness for Dill, a very unassuming, humble and kind man, and have been sponsoring his children's education ever since (not abnormal over here).
Unfortunately Dill died last year when a bus knocked into him when he was walking Sushant (his eldest son of 10 years) home from school. So this meant that his wife, Manu, and his two sons had to move down from their small farm on the Sarangkot hill, to a house owned by Dill's brother in Lakeside, where they now live with Dill's parents and his sister (again this is not unusual over here, extended families tend to live together and in fact families are very close and will always support one another, as long as someone is putting food on the table then all should be well...).
Anyhow Manu is now benefitting from the Trust. She was very shy to begin and lacked the knitting skills learned by the other women, but she has now picked it up and seems to enjoy the company of the other women - I guess it helps to provide a distraction from the achig in her heart. I know the family have struggled to come to terms with Dill's death and her youngest son is still waiting for him to re-appear as he would often go off for weeks at a time on treks.
The quality of the woollen products being made by the women far surpasses the quality of woollen products being sold in Lakeside. The trouble is, the cost of the quality of wool and the time it takes the women to make the socks by hand means that the socks need to sell at a higher price than the other cheaper and less quality socks on offer in Lakeside. This is fine in terms of selling socks abroad (well it would be fine if we did not have to factor in the ridiculous freight/postage charges of getting anything out of Nepal) but means the market is somewhat reduced in Lakeside and all we can hope is that visiting yogis realise that by buying the socks, they are benefitting the women as much as themselves and may justify paying that little bit more.
We now have a lady who is experienced in using a sewing macine so she is busy making Yoga pants and yoga mat bags, while the other women are in the process of making woollen shawls now that socks, gloves and leg warmers are relatively stocked. Needless to say I have invested in yet more woollen products, smaller socks and leg warmers, as they keep me so warm! I can't wait until the day we manage to create the opportuinity for the international Yoga community wearing the Trust's socks, and literally helping women to stand on their own two feet. All rather exciting.
Anyhow we left the women to their knitting so that Ewan could finally gie in and have a shave! Honestly it has been getting ridiculous. There are a number of shaving places throughout town (in fact far more than I realised) and the last few days they have all been on at Ewan to have a shave. He knows he needs to have one - oindeed wants to have one - but he is not particualry happy about the thought of having such a sharp blade so close to his throat and controlled by someone else.
Anyhow he finally relents and I watch and am rather fascinated by the ease at which the young guy shaves Ewan's face. He even gets a head and neck massage of which I am rather jealous, so the whole episode takes about half an hour and costs about £3 and Ewan has baby soft skin for the next few days!
After all that excitement we head for tea and then another walk along the Lake, watching the sun drop behind the hills, before heading off to visit Manu at her house and deliver presents from my parents for the boys. We also caught up with Naina and her daughter Neha who is also supported by my parents.
There was no electricity at the hotel by the time we were done, so we headed to Cafe Amsterdam for a drink until the noise of the live band got too much (young bands are all the rage here, but they are clearly expressing their angst about the political situation as they play music LOUD) and so we went for dinenr before another relatively early night.