Category Archives: India and Nepal 2017

North-western India, including Delhi and Agra followed by southern Nepal and a trek into the Khumbu region.

Who are these strangers and why are they on a bus with me?

The day we got lost in Old Delhi, we were in a hurry to get back to our hotel because we had a 6 p.m. commitment to meet the strangers who would be our companions for the next 15 days. We were joining a group tour operated by G Adventures and titled Delhi to Kathmandu adventure. The tour will take us to several sites in northern India, including Jaipur, Varanasi and Agra, then into Nepal.

I enjoy organized tours because they take over all the planning and details of the trip. Plus, the chance to meet people who like to travel and probably have their own traveling anecdotes to share always appeals to me.

But, bursting into our introductory meeting nearly 30 minutes late was not the way we would have chosen to make an impression upon the group.

A Kathmandu wedding

I was delighted to see a Nepalese wedding on the grounds of our beautiful Shanker hotel in Kathmandu. The bride was resplendent in an elaborate red wedding dress with a full skirt. The entire dress was embroidered with gold thread. Her long wavy dark hair was covered with a red veil also embellished with golden embroidery. She wore many long necklaces, one of them emerald green. Her arms were covered in bracelets, her hands with henna. She was young and very pretty. As she stood arranging her dress and veil, waiting to enter the banquet hall, she was surrounded by elegant older women in saris, one of them obviously her mother, beaming and fussing over her daughter.

The bride’s expression was solemn. I thought she might be considering the gravity of the step she was about to take. There was no groom in sight when I saw her, I suspected she would light up when he arrived.

As her photographer and videographer started shooting, we moved on not wanting to photo bomb her pictures.

When we returned to the hotel later that night the celebration was in full swing. We could see dancers: women in saris, children in party clothes and men in traditional long jackets and peaked hats.

The front desk manager seemed to take a proprietary interest in the festivities and he was inviting hotel guests to peek into the hall. Several westerners were unabashedly standing next to the dancers snapping pictures. Out of respect, I refused to enter the hall but I couldn’t resist looking in.

I quickly spotted the bride, still solemn and surrounded by women. Maybe she was concerned about her appearance, maybe she wanted to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. Where was the groom? I asked the desk manager to point him out.

The groom was a tall, distinguished man in traditional Nepali dress, happily dancing in a circle of several guests. While handsome, he was at least 25 years older than the bride. Arranged marriages are common in this culture and it’s been shown that, over the long term, they are no less happy than western-style “love” marriages. But, with my western sensibilities, I wondered if that might explain the bride’s solemn demeanor.

The ides of March

Was it inauspicious to pick March 15 as our departure date?

March is still winter. Worst, it has a nasty way of reminding you especially when you have travel plans. By yesterday, the eve of our departure, we were looking at cancelled flights all over eastern Canada and New England with the chance of our flight to Toronto being affected. The ripple effect could be disastrous for us because our final flight to Kathmandu was not booked through Air Canada, like our flights to Delhi. Continue reading The ides of March

Another adventure begins

India. Nepal. These two countries evoke visions of cultures far removed from ours here in Canada. The history, the religions, the customs, the climate, the food, it’s all a long way from our snow and maple syrup.

When I returned from a trek to Everest Base Camp in the fall of 2013, Ken took a great interest in my stories and pictures. In short order, he announced that he wanted to experience Himalayan trekking for himself and thus the seed was planted for the trip we are about to take. Continue reading Another adventure begins