The guy on CNN just said that the people in Kathmandu were odd in their Buddha-like fatalistic stupor, burning their dead and not expecting much.
I shouted it up the stairs to R who is listening to Jefferson Airplane while reading through his student's reports on their charity walk whereby a bunch of well-off teenagers walked for an hour and a half along the river and another hour and a half back to simulate walking to schools somewhere in Southern Africa. Don't get me wrong, they may all have figured out something about the world. Teenagers are admirably smart.
In 1994, a young man named Shrestha came to stay with us for a week or two. A law student from Nepal attending a youth conference here. His first time abroad. He stayed in S's room and slept in her bunk bed with the toys underneath and the raspberry coloured wallpaper. When we sat down for our first meal together he told us about home. He was studying in Kathmandu and his family lived about three days away. Three days on a train, a bus, by car? we asked. No, first on a bus for a day, then walking for two more days. He talked about his family and their lives, about earning a bit of money as trekking guide and his childhood and plans for the future and much later, before we all went to sleep, he asked us about the different gadgets in the bathroom and the kitchen. I come from a different planet, he said with a laugh when he tried out the blender and during the night I heard him getting up and checking it again.
A few days later I brought him to work with me and while we were waiting at a pedestrian crossing, two German women ran up calling his name and hugging him. They had been to Nepal trekking the year before and of all the places and people, he and his brother had been their guides. We laughed a lot that day. See, I told him, we are all living on the same planet.
We lost touch. This was a long time before the internet and fb etc. You know how many Shresthas there are in Nepal?
But we are on the same planet and tonight I hope he and his family are ok.