By Craig Greenman
(Visiting Professor of Philosophy, King’s College)
Dear family and friends,
To end these “Letters from Kathmandu,” I want to share three videos I took on my phone. The first is called “Man on the Bus,” a scene from K.’s and my bus ride from Bhaktapur to Lalitpur, in the Kathmandu Valley. I apologize for my shaky camerawork.
The second video is of my Doberman, and of the little white yippy dog in our neighborhood, who made an infrequent appearance. You can see how the Doberman lives – badly, on his pee-stained patio – and how beautiful he is.
The final video is from the Bagmati river valley, during a break in the monsoon. I was walking by some tin shacks and a larger, windowless building, and I heard singing. I tried – with my bad phone, which didn’t do it justice – to record it. The musicians may have been the herders, shepherds, and farmers I’d seen in the valley; their song, yearning and glorious, still makes me cry. Years ago, I’d heard similar voices from a gospel community – again unseen – on a side street of Detroit. I’ve heard such music, too, from Somalian refugees in New Hampshire. May we never stop welcoming others to our country, and may others never stop welcoming us, as long as we’re not dropping bombs on them.
Thank you – dhanyabad! – for bearing with me through these eighteen letters, and for keeping me company, if only in spirit, for the past four months. It’s been a great privilege to have people care what I write or do.
I’d like to thank my colleague, Raunak Chaudhari, for posting my letters; Narottam Aryal (“N.,” the King’s College president) for suggesting I do a blog (he’d only meant one post, but I’d thought he meant a whole series); Amigo Khadka (“A.”) for bringing me to King’s and watching over me after I’d arrived; and most importantly, my friend and tutor, Krishna Prasad Dangal, for making my life in Nepal so much better. When “K.” first picked me up at Tribhuvan International Airport, he resembled Krishna: Unlike Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, I wasn’t a great warrior, and K. wasn’t driving a chariot (he’d hired a cab), but he was helping me enter the “battlefield” of Kathmandu. I wouldn’t have made it, at least not as happily, without him. (That’s us in the photo; Krishna took at the wedding described in my first letter.)
Namaste, and may we all go together.