Traveling and Homeschooling in Nepal: Familiarity in the Unknown

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We arrived in Kathmandu in the afternoon, our bags stuck back in Delhi where we had a quick layover on our way north from Bangkok. When we exited the Kathmandu airport, I was caught off guard by feelings of familiarity, not because I had been here before, but because the air, light and sights all reminded me of when I lived in Dharamsala, North India, 17 years ago.  Like Kathmandu, Dharamsala lies at the foot of the Himalayan mountain range at around 4,700 feet elevation, thus the familiar quality of air and light. Just as I was thinking this, Tara turned to me and said, “Mom, I feel like I’ve been here before.”

 

 

After settling into our studio at the charming Ti-se Guesthouse in the Tibetan quarter called Boudha, surrounding the Boudhnath Stupa, we went out for an evening walk around the majestic stupa, one of the largest and holiest in Kathmandu.

 

The setting sun gave way to the light of butter lamps surrounding and within the walls of the great stupa.

 

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As we entered the main path around the stupa we were carried on a wave of people circumambulating and reciting, “Om mani padme hum,” a mantra for Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, which literally means “Om, jewel in the heart of the lotus,” signifying our true nature within the heart of our being. Some were reciting mantras, others chatting and laughing—all finishing their day with this common ritual walk around the axis of their community. Just like the Swedagon Stupa in Yangon, Burma, young and old congregate at this sacred center, visit with friends and make offerings as well as prayers for health, compassion and enlightenment. All three of us—Tara, Tejas and I—were instantly charmed and awestruck.

 

 

Hungry after our long journey and our three circumambulations around the stupa, we climbed the stairs to a charming rooftop restaurant overlooking the stupa and had our first Nepali meal: noodle soup with vegetables. We then went back to the hotel to crash in our travel clothes, hoping that our luggage would arrive the next day.

 

The following days were spent reuniting with old friends who had been studying at the Buddhist university in Kathmandu and getting tips on where to find the best fresh fruit, yogurt, butter and other sundries. After day three, our luggage arrived along with our friends Meg, James and their two daughters.

 

 

The next day we all hopped onto a short flight to Pokhara to meet up with our expat friends Stacy, Damon, and their two daughters for our next adventure.

 

 

Here’s a look back at all the posts in our global homeschool adventure:

Thailand Solo with Two Kids: Where Homesickness Sets In
Homeschooling in Myanmar: Visiting Bagan
Traveling to Myanmar with Kids
Adventures in Homeschooling in India
The Benefits of Ayurvedic Cleansing
Homeschooling on the Road
Around the World in One Semester

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