Updated: Oct 30
I am approaching a significant milestone in my life: my 60th birthday. My unique way of commemorating it was to join a group of like-minded women on BIKE 'N SOUL'S "Hilltop Discovery Tour" during my first encounter with Nepal.
After a ten-year hiatus from riding, I naturally had some reservations; these subsided once we were on the road and had begun discovering an unimaginably raw and profound world.
Nepal offers so much more than the Himalayas.
I suspect the Himalayas are Nepal's greatest attraction; they did, however, largely elude us on our motorcycle tour.
I ride, mesmerised by the verdant rice terraces which bask in the sun assuming its golden colour as the plants ripen towards harvest. Crushed flowers, garlands of Marigolds, tika blessings and offerings embellish the interior of temples and stupas as devotees perform their early morning and daily rituals while incense fragrance wafts through the air.
Nepal has wrapped itself around me like a cloak; a cloak I want to hug closely to my body and not take off.
Nepal's raw gems captivate my gaze.
Now, my inner gaze sees the Nepal I experienced on a motorcycle. It would be remiss to ignore that which I found confronting: stray dogs, pollution, a dearth of sanitary installations, roads and highways thronging with any human, animal or machine capable of propulsion.
The gaze though, does not dwell on these things; its focus is steadfast on the peaceful hilltop villages, shoddy roadside stores proffering freshly cooked food and Masala tea, dusty yellow buses clanking along the school route, carpets of harvested rice drying at road verges, prayer flags flapping and fluttering, hectic towns, grazing goats and water buffalos, concrete houses wearing coats of boldly coloured paint.
To experience all this on a motorcycle is to inhale and exhale a raw, a real, a true and profound world.
It is a world which entrances, leaves you ensorcelled, and invites you to engage and immerse yourself in the landscapes and settlements and, most significantly, in the lives of the Nepali people.
At the Pumdikot Shiva Temple in Pokhara, I, along with my fellow road-sisters, set an intention- mine, to take Nepal with me, to my home in New Zealand. Of course, I have the quintessential reminders: mala beads, a glossy wall map, satin scarves, and a singing bowl. While these things are lovely to have, there is a reminder more profound.
I have accumulated a treasure which can not be packed into a suitcase.
The Nepali people have blessed me as they have overcome their reticence, crept outward and forward to smile and reveal their curiosity, which matches mine. Their lives are shrouded in poverty yet they are not spiritually impoverished. It's a meeting of two frontiers: east and west.
We discover our common humanity: our love for our families, our expressions of joy and suffering, our innate fascination of the unknown.
It is this blessing which is my treasure, woven into the fibres of my cloak, and it is generous enough to wrap around you too.
Picton / New Zealand
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