Ganga and ET at the Farewell Ceremony

SYNOPSIS:  About a special farewell and a special welcome.  About Cosy Nepal, a unique housing and restoration project.

Never before have I been sent off with such love and kindness as today, when I left the World Heritage Hotel in Kathmandu.  When I was ready to part, Ganga, the beautiful and ever helpful receptionist of the hotel, told me to sit down.  She was going to perform a farewell ceremony Newari Style.  Newaris are the original inhabitants of this valley and rulers until the 18th Century.  Their culture has influenced if not shaped Nepal’s culture in every respect:  architecture, festivals, rituals, language, food.   Ganga is a Newari woman and the owners of the WHH are Newari, too.

I sat.  Ganga put a tilaka, a yellow and red mark of blessing on my forehead, wrapped a string of flowers around my neck and handed me a small plate with a boiled egg rolled in spices and a cup, into which she poured a strong, alcoholic, local rice wine.  I had to eat the egg and drink the wine as protection for the journey ahead, and for good luck.  How touching was that?!  Thanks, Ganga, and thanks to the owners of the WHH, who themselves care in a very personal way about their guests and the people around them.  It makes such a difference!

What would lay ahead?  I was heading to Patan, the second of the three ancient capitals of this valley.  I had once again chosen a place that was located in the heart of the ancient town, that looked architecturally interesting, and had an outdoor space for me to sit.  This time I had my own balcony.  But I had to scale down a bit.  The WHH had been a cut above my usual budget.  What would it be like? 

Not to worry!  Cosy Nepal – the rental agency of my AirBnB accommodation, represents a unique business model.  A group of investors, who by now have renovated more then a dozen traditional Newari-Style homes in Patan, work in cooperation with the local owners of these homes.  The renovated homes become apartment rentals, managed by the owners in conjunction with Cosy Nepal.  Only one house is rented short-term through AirBnB.  And that’s where I found them.  The head of the company, Camille, is from France.  She and her staff members are loving and caring people who are determined to make a difference in Nepal and from all I can tell, they are!

My room is small.  I have a view of several courtyard of brick homes.  I am in a truly local, residential neighborhood.  Even though this is clearly an urban environment, I also have a lot of nature around me:  there is a crows’ nest with youngsters right in front of me.  On the roof one over to the left, a pair of owls is watching over four youngsters.  They are loud!  I had no idea that owls shriek so loudly and so frequently; day and night.  But what a treat!  And on the roof to my right, a slender black cat is raising four kittens.  I have to watch out, that the little ones don’t sneak into my room.  They love my bed and the rugs, but not for the appropriate reasons.   

Along with all my animal neighbors come the real neighbors.  A few steps down in a small, but fully equipped apartment with their own balcony, lives a couple from Portugal.  Samuel is part of a multi-country university partnership in helping Nepal setting up ecologically sustainable businesses (but I have to admit, I never got into any details of this project).  Maria is a chemist, who came along for the ride.  One floor down, in a really nice apartment suited for long-term stays, a French couple took residence.  Gee is a documentary film maker who is shooting a follow-up on the 2015 earth quake.  He and his wife Karin  have been to Nepal multiple times.  I can see, why.  This is a country one can fall in love with!

Once again, I have been really lucky.  Wonderful owners, wonderful neighbors, and a wonderful, truly cozy little place.  I miss the WHH.  But I don’t miss Kathmandu. 

Patan, here I come!