Still at first, but unable to comprehend the seemingly orchestrated symphony of the trembling walls - experiencing the Jakarta 4.7 magnitude earthquake made me realize that Nepal had endured an earthquake twice that magnitude in 2015. The sense of arriving impeccable and unimpaired, but departing anguished and enlightened with a handful of lessons, allowed me to understand that there is so much that goes on beyond what’s on our screens.
Whether it was walking along narrow roads of Kathmandu or trekking up soaring slopes of the Himalayas, the perception was an aura of sorrow and misery surrounding thousands of demoralized human beings in the aftermath of the terrible destruction. Kathmandu is a concrete and brick jungle filled with determined people and a sense of cautious optimism. The old-rustic city is infused with burning incense, symbolizing daily rituals performed by thousands, pleading for strength and safety as they circumnavigate Boudhanath Stupa.
A seven-day experience in Nepal added daily to my understanding of the true meaning of suffering and perseverance. I often found myself drowning in emotion as I tried to make sense of the contrast and complexities of Nepal and its inhabitants.
Heart of the City
The horizon glows with the last orange rays that lies behind the heart of the city, Kathmandu. In the 1,500-year-old city lies the Boudhanath Stupa, blessed by the well-being of Buddhists that turn its prayer wheels clockwise as they pray to move beyond the tragedy. Throughout the city, countless families attempt to rebuild their lives and homes, bringing a sense of order and sanguineness to a city seemingly full of chaos and suffering. The aging architecture of this historically rich city captivates with the beauty of its culture and tradition. The past seems to invade the present through many UNESCO heritage sites scattered about as a result of the earthquake including Durbar Square, the historical center of Kathmandu— a must for tourists.
The earthquake’s destruction, unrepaired, gives a sense of fragileness to monuments, yet of strength to the people who survive and move on. Kathmandu seems to hold a secret, connecting citizens without technology through a sense of realness. The Nepalese themselves seem devoid of gadgets yet seem connected through a richness of experience associated with being constantly face to face. The strength and realization of what’s important which comes from assisting people to recover from a catastrophe that wrecked millions of lives and historical buildings, set the people of Nepal apart from others.
The earthquake’s destruction, unrepaired, gives a sense of fragileness to monuments, yet of strength to the people who survive and move on. Kathmandu seems to hold a secret, connecting citizens without technology through a sense of realness.
They understand that nature is just another part of life which is uncontrollable. Nepal possesses a gift, teaching abundant lessons to those willing to learn. I found the same understanding as I departed the city and stepped foot in the countryside.
The Soaring Himalayas
The 8-hour trek to Chisapani village passed through traditional stone house villages and terrace rice paddies. The same determined look on faces of those rebuilding homes in Kathmandu emanated from women working in the fields. As I felt my energy beginning to wane, I admired the work ethic that the hill people possess as they work day in and day out, often with smiles on their faces. Reaching the campsite, my eyes grew heavy from the constant overwhelming ambience imprinted in my mind of damaged homes and lives. Tightly wrapped in my sleeping bag, I close my eyes as I position my legs in a manner where my cartilage won’t ache under my kneecap.
Dawn greets us with wind that brought the trees to life along with birds that sang a melody of comfort and tranquility. I suddenly open my bleary eyes to students and villagers in construction of a sustainable community center, working alongside one another whilst digging dirt and passing rocks. I felt privileged to be “fighting back” beside these strong, determined Nepalese. “It’s when a moment of hardship hits you, when you find out who you are. Do we surrender or do we fight back?” stated by our guide, Bill Kite. I left the village with a sense of satisfaction and newly gained understanding that richness comes from togetherness, not materialism and technology.
This is not goodbye, Nepal
Stains of holi powder on the brick ground surrounding the Golden Temple brought to mind the colors of the last sunset in Chisapani. Nepal offers a symmetry between city and country, spirituality and realness, and suffering and optimism. This complex country teaches life lessons that no other nation can perfectly execute. The last hours spent on the streets of Kathmandu were with the mellow sun setting over the horizon like a ring of flames, accompanied by a yellow haze. For the last time, I saw the heritage sites all lit up with a golden glow. A visit to a nation that contains nothing but the beauty of reality left me to realize that I am not yet ready to face my own - needing time to reflect on lessons learned from strong, preseverant and spiritual people who seem to understand and accept the many complexities of their lives.
Our travel article course has focused on the use of different methodologies such as sensory detail, literary devices, and type of travel writing to produce a successful travel article. Utilizing stylistic features, I decided to create an emotional yet informative article about the reality of suffering, thriving, and connectedness within a society. Thinking about Nepal, I am immediately reminded of how the Nepalese connect not through “wires”, but through a sense of realness as they are present in every moment. This inspired me as I perceive that the reality I live in is surrounded by the existence of technology. Rarely seeing this, I chose to explore a travel memoir article to address Nepal’s uniqueness.
The intended audience of this travel memoir is individuals looking for a cultural and hands-on experience during their travel to Nepal. Analysing citizens and sceneries in the form of a travel article allowed me to inform the audience that to really understand perseverance, it must be visited firsthand. The article’s purpose is to persuade the audience to visit Nepal, gaining personal experiences that ultimately teach valuable lessons. Mentioning negative repercussions of the earthquake allowed me to explore the realness of the determined Nepalese. This depicts the distinctiveness of Nepal, allowing visitors to realize that these life lessons are only acquired through visiting the nation.
My technique was to enthral readers by describing emotions through vivid experiences, history, literary devices (e.g. personification and similes), and sensory details to bring the piece to life and make it persuading. My use of first person narration guides the audience through the eyes of a technology-savvy, international student on a cultural visit to Nepal. Through speaking of both Nepal’s city and countryside, I achieved variety in the article. The central theme, perseverance, is highlighted throughout as it illustrates the hardships of the Nepalese through eyes of an outsider.
Text by Allison Farial. This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine February 2018 issue “Season of Love”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.