One of the most delightful experiences about going to Nepal, was learning little bits about the culture as I ran across them. Often an individual in our group would see the look of astonishment or surprise or confusion on my face and launch into an explanation of what I was experiencing. It was awesome to have such a vibrant group of locals traveling with me, who wanted to explain things so readily.
One such experience happened in Phakding, just after the slow, meditative sort of hiking day I’d had. I’d spent the whole hike walking thoughtfully, watching each person and activity that we passed, learning about it. My eyes were open and I believe that is one of the least rushed days I have ever had in my life. It was lovely to be on a journey slowly enough that I could soak up whatever came to me.
Those of you who have reached this point in the book might remember that Pemba and I were talking about food when a pink puppy bolted into camp. I had to ask why he was pink, and Pemba’s answer was that they had just finished a festival, and people dye dogs sometimes. That was the short answer. In the almost-year that has passed since then, I’ve soaked up a lot more about Hindu and Buddhist cultural celebrations. Mostly this is because all my Nepali friends on Facebook shower each other with photos and sentiments of each festival and celebration as it happens. (Facebook is a wonderful enabler of our voyeuristic tendencies, isn’t it.)
Anyway, today I connected the dots, and they were dots of a multitude of bright colors showing this celebration in full force. Holi is the festival of colors, the return of spring from winter’s drab tones. I was amazed the depths to which they imbibe in color through this festival. When I see photos of it, the artist in me percolates to the surface and wants to dance and sing in the visual cacophony it creates.
It only took a second before I was transported back to Phakding, staring at that bright pink dog in the high country of Nepal a year ago. I remember that in my limited knowledge of the festival a year ago, I spent a few long moments imagining what the celebration might have been like. I didn’t know then, about the colored powders that they use to douse each other in jubilation and chaos. It was the same festival a year ago as the ones in the photos above (click the link).
I love connecting dots like that. Especially when they are bright and joyous and colorful. A year ago tomorrow I left for Nepal. I’ve been wondering for 2 weeks what I should say about that marker in time. It seems the answer appeared to me today. I can’t think of a better way to connect the dots than that.