Posts Tagged ‘Kathmandu’

Movie stars and roxy at an after-hours club

November 10, 2010

The Elders giving tikka to the children on Dashain. It is custom to place the tikka on the forehead then bless the children with words, some fruit and a few rupees.

Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley is visiting children at an orphanage he supports in Nepal, exploring the Himalayan culture and cuisine, and reporting on an occasional basis.  His reports are presented here to expand our own perspective on other parts of the world and cuisines that may eventually find their way into the local restaurant scene. All of the photographs are by Matt or members of his traveling group.

Kathmandu Dashain Holiday
Oct 2010

We are back in Kathmandu getting ready to celebrate Dashain. It is early Friday morning and the big days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have been chosen as an elder. An elder gives tikka to the young. This is the red dot you see placed on the forehead of people of various Asian, Hindi and Buddhist cultures.

Matt's buddy Vishnu had fun chasing goats before the celebration at Bal-Mandir.

We are at Kusi Ghar, our group home, but need to get to Bal-Mandir to get more of the children to come celebrate with us. We have trouble getting. Some of the orphaned children have been released but only available at last with the help of one of the politically unconnected directors who puts the children first. Think “The Great Escape” or “Sand Pebbles.” As we leave there is such a sigh of relief that the whole family will be together – we all break down and cry. Thirty-eight children altogether with their brothers and sisters for the holidays. You can’t buy this. I did not know this kind of hard-earned joy was so rewarding. To see one of the young girls look up at Shannon and me and say “I am so happy you are bringing me to my sister” with tears in her eyes is as much an emotional experience as I could ever expect and I have had some eye-opening experiences.

Later that night, after giving tikka and celebrating with the children, we head out for some adult time with friends from Kathmandu. One, a popular writer, and another a classic bookstore owner. The girls drink roxy and red rice malt liquor, both homemade at Cafe Newar my favorite Newari restaurant in Thamel, Kathmandu.

Things get good and everyone is happy. We decide that the town is shut down so we need to go to our friend Prawin’s pal’s after-hour club. We arrive and it is classic. It’s like my grandfathers basement with a bar, only it’s in an attic of a warehouse and run by four buddies.

This is great. Foosball and cards til 4 a.m. No drinking for me, but Shannon, Alex and Meredith are having a blast. Our new friends are very nice and hospitable including the two rats in the rafters that watched us all night as if to say “here are the Americans keeping us up late again.”

In the after-hours club there were only the four of us, the four owners, Prawin and two ladies – Nisha and Nellu .It wasn’t until we left that we found out from the taxi driver that we had been with three of the most famous actors, actresses and filmmaker in Nepal and India. The difference between fame there and in the U.S. is pretty much night and day. These people would get hounded in public but we would have never known anything but humbleness otherwise. Pretty cool after the fact though.

Stay tuned for more.  Matt

Matt, on his way to Kusi Ghar, stopped by the orphanage to wish some of the young ones a happy day

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Matt Haley’s adventures in Nepal and India

October 27, 2010

Matt Haley is shown here with Leela, Laxmi, Kabita & Nari at Bal-Mandir Orphanage. Kabita, second from left, is still at the orphanage due to her inability to speak or hear. The others have been placed in Reliance School.

Delaware Cape Region restaurateur Matt Haley has embarked on another winter trip to the Asian subcontinent to continue his support of an orphanage he has adopted and to explore the various cuisine cultures of that exciting part of the world. He is sending through lots of blogs and photos and I’m publishing them here to give our readers insight into his travels, discoveries and perspective on a very different part of the world. DF

Nepal – October 2010 Arrival

We arrived in Kathmandu not long before Shannon, Alex and Meredith, my traveling companions, were on route to the orphanage, Bal-Mandir. We met Leela and Laxmi, my adopted Nepali daughters who were formerly residents at Bal-Mandir, at the airport.  There were the usual happy tears, hugs and new introductions to their new “Aunties” before they had to go back to school to finish exams ahead of the Dasain Holidays.

Once at Bal-Mandir, we immediately caught up with Director Rabin Shresta, who led us to Kabita,  a deaf and speechless young woman I have been involved with for some time. She is considered my third Nepali daughter. On seeing her, more tears came. We had all studied a little American sign language, but come to find out what I thought was an international language was not so. When I tried to sign “Hello, how are you?” Kabita laughed hysterically and wrote down “wrong language!”

As wonderful as it is to see the children, there is always a sense of despair in seeing the surroundings and then an even elevated sense of shame to see how complete the people express themselves with happiness and gratitude.

Once settled in, it is a special treat to walk the streets of Kathmandu with the children. Shannon and I were led through the back streets by ten extremely excited children.  They  loved stopping at every street vendor, always asking us to sample their country’s food, never asking for themselves. Last year I wrote of the samosa, chat and momos on the street which would be similar to empanadas, chick pea salsa and dumplings. This is a wonderful way to settle in for the beginning of what should be a great adventure in all the ways to travel.

I have never traveled with Shannon Colburn, my co-worker, but have always wanted to. At the age of 27, she has been to over 50 countries and her view is like mine: Never visit another country or destination without at least giving back something it has given you. Also, eat, read, study art and listen to the music indigenous to the environment. This is how travel has become more for me then a vacation.

Within a few days the emotional side of this trip really settled in for us. We had the opportunity to take five orphan children from Kusi Ghar (our group home called “happy house”) trekking to the Annapurna region. Three  of the five had never been on a plane. Five of five had never been on an escalator or elevator. In my past visits I was always on the first floor so Leela and Laxmi hadn’t been on escalators or elevators either. So of course we immediately went to the hotel Yak & Yeti and put ten kids on the elevator, then to the mall to ride the escalators. I had to drag them off both. It was like being at a carnival.

It is always hard deciding who can come on treks and field trips, but since it was a holiday, it was easier since most children will head back to their villages to see and be with what relatives they may have left. We are leaving the trek and airport soon. We decided to bring Jeevaan, Leela, Laxmi, Chet and Bina along with Bruce Keenan – head of HCC -Shannon, Alex Capano, Meredith Marshall and Wanchuu our Sherpa and his brothers. We will trek Annapurna for 5-6 days. The weather looks like it’s going to be wonderful.

For more info on HCC please google Himalayan Children’s Charities. Thanks for your interest. Matt

Shannon Colburn of Rehoboth Beach teaching games to the kids in Bal-mandir.

The students at Reliance School in Kathmandu.