May 13, 2016

Jeez! This Photo Brings Back a Flood of Memories about My Pokhara Family

This photo was taken several days ago outside my house in Washington.

Two of the people shown in that photo appear in THIS photo taken 15 years earlier:

During those 15 years, I made over a dozen trips to Nepal that added unexpected and unique enhancements to my life that continue to this day... primarily because I became friends with two wonderful Nepali families -- the Pariyars in Pokhara and the Thapas in Kathmandu. 

This post will be a nostalgic photo remembrance of my happy times with my Pokhara family. This trip down memory lane was triggered by Ramesh Pariyar's parents' arrival earlier this month, their first visit to the U.S. 

My Introduction to Nepal
Pokhara was the final stop on my tour of India with two London friends in February and March, 2001.We ended up spending a lot of time at Mike's Restaurant, run by Mike Frame, an American who first came to Nepal with the Peace Corps. He stayed, and ended up running the popular Mike's Breakfast in Kathmandu and Mike's Restaurant in Pokhara.

At Mike's, I became friends with Ramesh Pariyar. I returned to Nepal in the fall when I received an email invitation from Ramesh to join him on the journey to his mountain village of Warchok for the major Nepali festival of Dashain.

The trip to Warchok turned out to be one of my most enjoyable travel experiences ever. It sealed the deal for my continued involvement with Nepal and its people. The photo at the start of this post shows me receiving tika from Ramesh's mother as part of the Dashain celebration.

To learn more about tika and Nepal's festivals, click here,

Photo Album of My Pokhara Family
Enough narrative. Here are some of the hundreds of Pokhara family photos taken over the past 15 years:

On the night I arrived at the Pariyar home in Warchok, family and
friends gathered outside for a welcome dance. Here one of Ramesh's sisters
tries to teach me the dance.

The tourist section of Pokhara abuts Fewa Lake much like my hometown
of Ithaca overlooks Cayuga Lake. A differnce: Cayuga is surrounded by
hills and Fewa sits at the base of snow-covered mountains.  

Those black spots are water buffalo who come for a swim every day.

On my first visits to Pokhara, I rented a room in one of the cabins that were
part of Mike's Restauant. My favorite was this one which overlooked
both the restaurant's patio and the lake.

Eventually, I helped the Pariyars build this house, which included a room
with a Western-style toilet. It became known as "John's room."

Here I am with Ramesh, his wife Laxmi, and their son Rahil  in the new home.

Rahil is ready for the first big event in his young life -- the celebration
of his first feeding with solid food. For boys, this event occurs
about five months after they're born.For girls, the celebration usually
occurs either in the fourth or six month after birth..

Looks like Rahil has decided to feast on his thumb.

I'm giving Rahil tika, not food.

Rahil enjoyed coming to "John's Room"

As part of  Rahil's second birthday celebration, we went
to the temple on the little  island in the lake.

A visit to a shrine. Famous Fishtail Mountain
appears right over Rahil's head.

Big family gatherings were always held on the house's rooftop.

And this isn't even the whole family.

This shot was taken from the balcony outside my room.
That's Fishtail Mountain again, top left.

Here's that guy again.

Mike had a unique house just down the road from ours. Here his
housemate and caregiver Surya is giving Mike a ride to the restaurant.
Mike was beginning to lose his long-time battle with cancer.

The green card we had been seeking for Ramesh finally came through for Ramesh in 2008. But Laxmi and Rahil stayed in Pokhara while he got established in the U.S. This photo of me with part of the Pokhara family was taken on my last trip to Nepal which was for the joyous Kathmandu wedding in March 2013 of Nimesh and Bhawana, my current and beloved housemates.

But I was also  going to be joined on the flight back by Laxmi and Rahil, who were going to join Ramesh in in the Washington suburbs. Their imminent departure explains why this group doesn't look too happy.

Even sadder is this photo taken of Rahil and Laxmi and me as we prepare to leave for the flight back to the U.S. Standing on my right are Ramesh's mother and Laxmi's mother. Their look says it all.

But to end on a happy note, here I am with Laxmi's sister Saraswati,
whom I adore.We just learned  last week that she has been granted a U.S. visitor's
visa good for five  years!

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