The start of December and the ‘outdoor adventure’ and ‘trekking’ shops of Kathmandu are dusting off baubles, putting up plastic Christmas trees and decking the shops with swags of string lights (tr-la-la-la-la-lala-la-la). Their focus is, of course, on catering to the masses of high season tourists, all out to enjoy days or weeks of trekking through clear, crisp mountain air and the best views of the famous Himalayan peaks that Nepal has to offer, far away from the dust and smog of Thamel district and inner city Kathmandu.
The competition between the scores and scores of equipment/you-want-it-we-have-it shops must be fierce (they are all squashed together in tiny, touristy Thamel, like multicoloured mountaineers in an undersized tent) and, to my mind, those with trees up really stand out. Its quite a jolt to suddenly see the trees pop-up in amongst rainbow racks of sleeping bags and down jackets, Hindu deity statues (any size from pocket to mantle piece), Buddhist prayer flags and boxes and boxes of Nag Champa incense sticks.
I think about friends I have travelled with, briefly met on the road or spent time with in their homes as I traverse their countries. This time of year always prompts reflection and remembering and these moments thinking about times past are personal advent calendar gifts which I also open each day!
I cannot help but think of England when I see the brightly dressed Christmas trees and my thoughts turn to past times spent with friends and family on hillside walks, beside pub fires, in cosy kitchens and messing about on narrowboats. People I miss and care about are even more in the forefront of my mind during what is traditionally the holiday season for that part of the world and which feels strangely compatible with the rapidly declining temperature and coming winter season here.
I start wondering where friends will be over the coming month, what they will be doing, how they are managing the all-to-often overwhelming enslawt of consumerism (it’s the same here but this time with more of an ‘essential equipment bias’ which is all too easy for me to fall prey to ) that grasps even the most grounded, who can then feel unwillingly swept along in the rip tide of expense and excess that builds to an untenable crest and whose peak is completely unsustainable and …
Well as I said I am in no way immune to that either and since I can feel the edges of anxious nausea at the thought of Boxing Day sales and the stress of whether I have bought the ‘right’ gifts for the right people, I thought I would send you all an almost eco, definitely vegan, minimal waste Advent Calendar from here to share some of the things I have seen and the thoughts they provoke!
It’s my simple way to tell you that you are in my thoughts!
I hope you enjoy it xxx