Have you ever had a perfect day? You know, when everything just seems right and you can’t stop smiling? When I was skipping through the photo’s I took in Nepal a few years ago this one in Pokhara immediately jumped out. I remember this day so well and looking at this picture makes me glow.
It was the day after I had returned to Pokhara from my amazing trek in the Annapurna region and I felt euphoric. When I woke up that morning I took my breakfast at my favorite german bakery, the Black&White cafe at lakeside. On any other day I would have strolled around the lakeside part of town after that, but not that day. That day was different, I felt different. Looking out over the lake I decided to leave the tourist hub -not that there were many in january- and take a walk to the old part of Pokhara town, a few kilometers up north. So I finished my breakfast with a smile, tipped a couple of rupees and got ready for the trip.
I didn’t know the way but after my trek in the mountains (without a guide or porter, just me and a map) I didn’t think it would be problematic. After all, I didn’t really have a destination and it was all about the journey. Plus, it’s Pokhara, how hard can it be? So I started walking in northern-ish direction, music in my ears and a big smile on my face.
After a while I came to a crossing with what looked like the main road. I took a left and passed numerous little shops and local restaurants. I sat down on a wooden bench on the street to drink a cup of tea and observed daily life. Cars were being fixed in a garage, deliciously smelling food was being made in a small restaurant, women were bargaining for a good deal on oranges at the store across the street and an old man next to me was smoking a beedi. When a couple of teenage boys passed and giggled at the sight of me, the old man mumbled something in Nepali which I imagined would be something in the line of “kids today”. I finished my tea, said a polite Namaste to the old man, who returned the kindness with a toothless smile.
A few kilometers and about 50 friendly Namaste’s onwards, I reached a temple. To me there’s always some sort of magic about Hindu temples. I love the sound of the temple bells ringing, the colorful flowerstands near the entrance and the vibe around these places. When I walked towards the entrance of the temple, the smell of food lured me to a small eatery across the road. I simply couldn’t resist the momo’s. The waiter was a friendly man and we started talking. His family owns a guesthouse up in the mountains in Gorepani, where I had just spent a few days. We talked and talked while I enjoyed the delicious momo’s and my lemon tea. We talked about the mountains, the temple, our countries and our bad habit of smoking. After my meal I asked for the bill. The waiter smiled and answered: There are no bills among friends.
The temple, which the waiter told me was called Bindhya Basini Temple, was a gorgeous place overlooking the town. It offered a stunning view on Macchapuchhre, the “fishtail” mountain. Women in colorful sarees were gathered around an old tree. A little girl in a cute pink jacket was doing her version of the ministry of silly walks which I strongly doubt she had ever heard of.
An old lady walked up to me and gave me a flower. She pointed towards the entrance of the Bhagwati (Goddess) shrine. After thanking her with a smile and a slight bow, I walked up to the shrine. I rang the bell above the door before entering and offered the flower to the statue of the goddess. In return, I received a bright red bindi on my forehead from the lady sitting inside. You need to know that I’m far from religious, but there was something about that place that made me feel humble. As I looked up to the statue again I found myself thanking it and asking it to keep my loved ones healthy and happy. Ofcourse I realized how silly it was, but it made me feel good. More than good.
After I walked back to Pokhara Lakeside I sat down at the lake with a Gorkha beer. There is no way to explain how peaceful I felt. It was as if there was this big safety net around me. It seemed to say: “Don’t worry, everything is as it should be. Even if you fall, you will be okay”. As I watched the Himalayan mountaintops change colors in the light of the setting sun I listened to “Lucky man” from the Verve and realized: I AM a lucky man.