It’s 730pm. I’m lounging in a plastic deck chair in the semi-darkness, my feet resting on the balcony railing. Crickets and grasshoppers play a constant, tuneless melody. Voices and laughter carry across the fields from nearby homes. Occasionally a dog barks, a cow bellows or a motorbike revs up. Otherwise, it is peaceful.
From my second story vantage point, stars sparkle through breaks in the partially cloudy sky. Some nights, lightening flashes and lights up the charcoal skies. The land gently slopes away and 2 or 3 story houses surround a large-ish vegetable garden. Tall trees block out most of the buildings beyond. But none are tall enough to block out the mountains that surround Pokhara.
The mountains are high enough and close enough that it feels like they hold Pokhara in a gentle embrace. The World Peace Pagoda and several temples sit atop the higher peaks while a few homes are dotted around lower levels.
From where I sit, the noise and chaos of Kathmandu is a world away. Even the hustle and bustle of Pokhara seems distant. As it gets darker, lights flicker on. Although there is a power cut right now, many homes still have solar power to run a few lights.
We have already eaten our staple diet of dhal baht (lentil soup and rice). Ambika (my host ama – mother) is a fab cook and makes an otherwise plain dish mithacha (tasty). Krishna (my host bua -father) has just arrived home from work. Their 3 daughters have finished their homework and are quietly playing and talking inside.
Ambika and Krishna have been so welcoming, insisting that this is our home and we are part of the family for the duration of our stay. And it’s more than a few simple words. To me, it does feel like home, especially since I can raid the teapot at any time (the equivalent of the fridge back home)!
A narrow, grassy path is the access way for many houses and leads to the front door of our home. 4 bedrooms are downstairs, while a flight of stairs leads up to the balcony which is the central hub here. The main inside living area has a small lounge (which doubles as a bedroom) and a kitchen.
I share a bedroom with another volunteer, Victoria, and our room also opens onto the balcony. And…we are lucky enough to have an ensuite (complete with western style toilet and a washing machine! Both luxuries here:)).
And while we are a brisk 30 minute walk from the lakeside, tourist area and other volunteers, I think I’m lucky to be in such a peaceful place where I can relax and feel ‘at home’.