This morning we began our day by having another lovely (large) breakfast at the Penguin Boutique Hotel. We said goodbye to the very kind staff and made our way to our new hotel, Kantipur Temple House. What a beautifully designed hotel it is! It feels like we are in another world, and as I write this, I am sitting out in the courtyard surrounded by beautiful wooden carvings and a luscious garden. I could stay here for a long time, but tomorrow, we head off to Pokhara, and we will be back here in four days time.
After we settled into our new room, we went for a wander around Thamel, and of course, did some more shopping. We were stopped by a lovely man who asked if we were from Australia, and usually, I would have said yes briefly then walked on, however for some reason I stopped to have a chat. He introduced himself as "Um" (pronounced Om), and that just made me feel as though it was even more significant a meeting. We ended up going inside to sit down and talk more inside his shop, and had a lengthy discussion about life, spirituality, and what it means to be on this path we call life. He was not at all surprised to find out the work that I do, as he said he felt the energy from my heart as we were walking down the street, and that's why he felt drawn to talk to me. Once again, I had met someone who held the same values as my own, and we could have talked for hours, and he taught me a Nepali term that sums up my feelings: "Shanti Shanti", which means 'peace peace'. We exchanged Facebook details and off we went up the street to the Garden of Dreams.
The Garden of Dreams is situated on a very busy intersection in Thamel, and you wouldn't imagine there being such a beautiful, peaceful place just inside the walls that surrounded it. Upon entering, I felt immediately relaxed, and the luscious gardens and sights of people laying on the grass reading books, or spending time with loved ones, was very welcoming.
We were then met by Rabi, who is the beautiful man who runs the Big Umbrella House in Kathmandu. He takes in children who are on the street (for various reasons- domestic violence, alcoholic parents etc) and he took us to the house where they're living. The children were just arriving home from school, and they were so excited to meet us; one little boy grabbing my hand to take me on a tour of the house. After we had a look around, all of the children sat down to do their homework. It warmed my heart to see just how eager the children were to do their homework; some were drawing, some writing, and some reading. Their English was extremely good and we told them so (which of course, they were very proud of)!
These children are just so appreciative of small things; for example, I took out a scrapbook and started to draw, and they were all so excited to receive one sheet of paper each to draw on. "Look, Ma'm", they were saying over and over again. It was lovely, and no matter how many times we said it was ok to call us by our first names, they still used the term 'Ma'm'.
In a group of thirteen boys, there is also one girl staying there, and what a fiery, excitable little lady she was! She had found a bunch of rubber bands tied together and was bouncing the rubber bands on a book up and down, so I grabbed a book as well and asked her to throw it to me. We ended up playing makeshift 'tennis' with two books and a bunch of rubber bands for ages. One of the older boys wanted a turn and so we took it in turns to see how many times we could bounce the 'ball' on the book before dropping it. Such simple games, but at the same time, so very beneficial, and it reminded me of working in childcare again.
Just before we were due to go home, we gave the children a notebook each, some new pencils and pens, some drawing paper, and other items that Mum had brought over for them. There was also a book on Australia and Victoria, and they were fascinated by the different things they were seeing in these books. It was especially amusing to hear them try to pronounce 'Uluru'. I wrote a little message in a couple of the children's books, and it made me so happy to see them copying out and reading the words that I had written among one another. I do hope that these words stay with them for a long time.
I wrote: "Always be yourself"