Going local

Saturday is the ‘weekend’ – we get one day off a week and I really looked forward to staying at home in Banepa, and just hanging out.  I’ve been in Kathmandu the last two weekends so it’s nice to just stay put.

I started my day off with a 1.5 hour morning walk with Lok, the owner of the volunteer house I am staying at.  It was lovely, we headed out towards the countryside and saw the sun rise and the morning unfold.  Lok knew many people (all men) on the route and we stopped off for a quick milk tea before returning for breakfast.  I had a hot lemon (squeezed lemon, a pinch of salt and hot water), as everyone knows I do not do tea or milk no matter where I am.  What a start to the day!

I have been looking for a walk that did not involve walking along the side of the dusty and pollution filled road (defeats the purpose of a walk methinks!) and now that I have discovered this route, it might be a good walk after work a few days a week.  I had considered walking home from work every day (about 35-45 mins walk) but that road is just crazy and my life is valuable.  So the walk through the countryside is perfect.

Before lunchtime, I had my first ever Abhyanga Massage in a little place in Banepa.  What probably springs to mind is a warm and inviting spa with dimmed lights, soft music playing, candles everywhere.  Get that out of your mind!  It was a cold room (remember no central heating) and a cubicle with a basic massage table covered in plastic.  As soon as I had undressed and laid down, the experience began.

An abhyanga massage is an Ayurvedic full-body oil massage, not a deep tissue massage but very very relaxing.  Two ladies used warmed mustard oil and massaged my body head to toe in unison, it was amazing. Once the massage is over, you get to snooze under a warm blanket for 20 mins – bliss!  It’s said to lubricate the joints, stretch out tension in the muscles, induce a deeper and better sleep and also improve the immune system.  Because it wasn’t a deep tissue massage, I was unsure if I would see any benefits ….. like the benefits I get from my sessions with Katherine Donovan.  Check her out, she is awesome!

I can certainly vouch for the deeper sleep (fab) and the loosening up of tight muscles (of which I have many).  I went to early morning yoga again this morning and there was a marked improvement in my flexibility.   So despite the environment and not being a deep tissue massage, I’ll be booking another abhyanga massage for sure!

I sat in the sun for a while before setting off on my next errand – what a tiring life I lead – eh??  It’s so damn cold here and the office I work in does not get much sun during the day, so it can get positively baltic.  My routine now is to sit in the sun for 15 mins every so often to warm up.  I had not expected this cold so of course did no pack my winter woolies – what a mistake.  So I have decided to do as the locals do, and get two shalwar kameez’ made with heavy wool material.

I had no idea what I was looking for so dragged poor Lok along – all I needed was for him to explain what I needed, he made a quick exit before he was dragged into selecting fabric.  The ladies in the store thought this was very exciting and we finally settled on a sea green ensemble and a blue/red ensemble.  As it was Saturday, the tailors were on a day off.  So Lok has to come with me today after work to help ensure the shalwar kameez are made right.  I’ll include photos once they are made – have no fear.

For those of you unsure what a shalwar kameez is, it’s a long-sleeved round neck tunic to the thigh, with matching yoga-like pants.  In warmer days, the tunic can be short sleeves but I am going for the cozy version.  Tight leggings can be worn underneath the yoga-like pants if extra layers are needed.  A woolen shawl rounds off the outfit.  I have my wool cape from Canada so I am all set there.  Actually, the design of the cape from Canada is admired greatly, the cooks at the SIRC kitchen have even tried it on.  So I’ll see if I can get some made for each of them before I leave.  They deserve some appreciation for cooking 3 meals plus two snacks for over 100 people (patients, their carers and staff) daily.

Well, best get back to work here.  As I write this, Peer Counsellor extraordinaire – Sonika – is leading the daily exercise class for the patients out front in the sun.  It’s too cold inside …. which is another thing we have added to the list for fundraising. Does anyone know of any Heating Systems companies who would be willing to assess the possibility (and implement) the provision of heat to the wards and therapy rooms at SIRC?  Must be renewable energy, solar is a possibility but I am sure there will be other options.

If you know of anyone with this expertise and willing to work in Nepal, please email me directly kcoffey@telus.net. Your help would be greatly appreciated as my line of work does not put me in contact with such companies.  For all of you in the northern hemisphere, keep warm!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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4 Responses to Going local

  1. Katherine says:

    Hi Kate, those massages can become a habit! The monks’s stores in Boudha around the stupa sell wool felt (usually green or burgundy) that would be good for a warm jacket.
    Did you try Kumbu Hotel?

  2. Kate Coffey says:

    Perfect, thanks for the tip. A cozy wool jacket sounds awesome. Have not been down to Boudhnath yet and so have not met Marsang, but plan to stay there & meet her by end Jan. Just sorting out a few weekends as I might have to be in Kathmandu (work) again soon.

  3. Debbie W says:

    Kate, I am really hoping you are nice and cozy soon in your new clothes! I was back in Winnipeg where temps bottomed out at -55C with the wind chill but we have heated houses! So I am sending warm thoughts to you! The massages sound divine….
    Deb 🙂

  4. Grace Coffey says:

    wool felt jacket sounds the biz Kats – you will have to invest! gx

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