adamlaird

“Problems”

What an interesting last few days Lisa and I had.  Let’s start things off with getting to the Kathmandu airport.  A bumpy seven hour bus ride left my back and neck in moderate soreness, but no matter…we were so excited about our upcoming flight to Delhi that the past was behind us.  We had visions of standing before the Taj Mahal, admiring its world wondrous beauty, or getting lost in the enchanting streets of Varanasi.  All these apparitions came to a stuttering halt when we reached the ticket counter to find that we were not going to be getting on the plane.  To my strange disappointment, Indian visas are not available to most tourists on arrival in India.  We left in utter discontent, but encouraged that we could surely get an Indian visa within a few days at worst.  We spent the night in Kathmandu’s touristy Thamel district, kicking back with a few adult beverages to ease our displeasure.

The next morning, we hired a cab to the Indian embassy, arriving just after seven in the morning, only to find that they don’t start their process until 9:30.  But no matter we said, and sat at a lovely little diner for a sub-standard breakfast platter.  We even started a nice game of Rummy 500 to kill time as local Nepali’s looked on in confusion at our card game.  After the embassy gates opened we filed in for a nice little hour and a half wait…actually much shorter than I expected.  We finally get to the counter to realize that our visas would be taking a minimum of 5 days, much too long for us to wait, so we decided to cut our losses, skip India, and try to think of something else we could do.  Lisa found something cool….5 hours later; she had a big henna tattoo on her foot, done in traditional bamboo style…pretty awesome!  I, on the other hand, waited around aimlessly, drinking a beer here and there to pass time while chatting on and off with an….“interesting”  middle aged women that worked at the tattoo parlor.  Throughout the day, we had other plans and ideas for what we could do to fill the void of our disappointment.  Every one, however, was systematically destroyed by some strange occurrence or stroke of bad luck.  We hopped on another seven hour bus ride this morning back to Pokhara, feeling borderline dejected by our misfortune.  But one more slap in the face; I got off the bus to find that I must likely left my mobile track phone at one of the rest stops along the way back to Pokhara.  I’ll be getting another cheap replacement tomorrow, but still..a pain in the butt.

The last three days could be taken for an awful waste of my time and money, but I am going to chose to take a different approach.  Quite honestly, looking back on things, or any other time in my life when I was disappointed or let down, I can come to a very obvious and simple conclusion: My problems are so extremely insignificant.   I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have “real” problems.  While I was down in the dumps about not getting to go to India for a couple days, there were an uncountable number of people actually in India whose problems were incomparable to mine.  During the time I was drinking a beer mad at the 60 bucks I lost from my flight ticket cancellation fee, mothers and fathers lost their children from simple illnesses that are easily curable had they had excess to routine healthcare or basic medications.  While I was having a spaghetti dinner instead of tasting an authentic India dish like I wanted, real people were there begging for a scrap of food that some people elsewhere in the world might hesitate to feed their dog.

My “problems” are minor annoyances that wouldn’t even register on a scale of some of the real problems people are facing all over the world. Moving forward, I need to try to keep this in greater perspective.  I live a life full of opportunity and good fortune and if I keep that in mind more often, “problems” in my life will seem fewer and further between.  Perspective; how people perceive and view the occurrences in the own life in relation to the world around them, in my humble opinion, is one of the largest keys to unlock real happiness, where ever that happiness may lie.   To find my own magic key, maybe I should take my own advice more often.

And….We’re off!

Over the next week I won’t be doing any blogging… and for good reason. Starting tomrrow morning, Lisa and I will be hopping around northern India for a little while.  The highlight of our journey, the Taj Mahal, one of the 7 wonders of the world!  I have had the chance to see a handful of amazing sights, but I’m hoping the Taj will rank up there with some of the breath-taking sights I have ever gotten the chance to see.

Perhaps even more intriguing to me, our short stay will also take us to a mystical Varanasi, which lays claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world!  It is also an extremely spiritual place and pilgrimage site for Hindus in all of India and beyond.  Varanasi is said to be one of the cultural hearts of India…so I am looking to get cultured!  Lisa and I are taking no luggage..just a small backpack each.  I am going to be dirty; I’m going to probably smell like shit most of the time, but it is going to be great.

 

India is said by many to be a powerful, eye opening experience for travels around the world.  With everything I have, I will try to remain unbiased and go into the experience with an open mind, taking every sight and sound with me as I go.  For this reason, I will not post any more of our trip until we return.  I’ am so lucky to have been given this great travel experience and I plan on enjoying myself as much as possible.

We still have a long way to go…

Feeling so appalled by a story I read recently on CNN, I felt compelled to comment and express some additional thoughts on the topic and my increasing interest to become more educated about it. You may read the whole story by the link that I post, but over the weekend an afghan women was publicly executed; shot with a rifle at point-blank range nine times in the middle of a city street just outside of the capital city to the cheering of dozens of men crowded on the hillside to watch. Her crime;….alleged adultery. Two men both claimed to have some type of relationship with the women and to solve the argument, there was a one hour court trial before it was decided the women had participated in an adulterous act. She was subsequently executed in brutal fashion without the chance for her to defend herself.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/afghan-woman-executed-by-_n_1659115.html

Although no image can be found with better quality (for obvious reasons) this was the fate of a women accused of adultry in Afghanistan…

While this is example of heinous cruelty toward women, (or any human being for that matter) sadly, it is not an isolated case, or even terribly uncommon is some areas of the world. It saddens me that in the year 2012, a time with a handful of women world leaders, along with millions of women doctors, lawyers, police officers, professional athletes, etc., that there are still places in the world where women are legally referred to as the physical property of their male counterpart. Although there are many unspeakable things currently going on in the world, the shocking mistreatment of, and atrocious attitude toward women on a world scale may be our planets largest issue. There are countless accounts of women being severally beaten or killed as punishment for giving birth to a girl rather than a boy. There are still nations that prohibit women from going to school, voting, driving a car, or holding a job, among other injustices.

What has disappointed me even more is that until recently, I was not aware of these types of issues, or at least aware of how troublesome the problem is for so many human beings around the world. What encourages me, however, is that I am living in a place that allows me to contemplate my thoughts on the world around me. Although my travels have only taken me to a few small corners of the world thus far, I try to learn from each place I go. I want my experiences to not only create lasting memories for myself, but to also expand the platform for which I can speak, standing up for those who have no platform on which to stand. My reach is quite small on this blog, but if the small number of people who read it just take a few seconds to sit and think that if you have the capability to get on the internet and read the words I write, then you also have the capability to do something to let others know about it.

My writing often times stresses on things that are quite depressing, even sometimes day-ruining for me as I write, but knowing what is really happening in the world and understanding it is the first step on the road to improving it. I certainly won’t completely change an entire world view on an attitude toward women, or any other extreme misfortune so many people face daily in my lifetime. What I can do, and what I would urge others to do, is to at least try to learn about it. I’m not sure of the origin of the saying “knowledge is power”, but the insight is spot on. If you don’t know about something, it can’t possibly change…. And on a very…very small scale, this is the change I try to make.

The Inevitable

After another week of living in beautiful Nepal, with hours of contemplation, I’ve decided to write a more personal blog entry.  A few months ago, Lisa had me watch an interesting video produced by Carl Sagen, entitled “The Pale Blue Dot”.  The “Dot” refers to planet earth and is referred to as such due to its microscopic, irrelevant, practically non-existent size in comparison to the universe as a whole.  The five-minute clip points out that absolutely everyone who you have ever known, seen, or even heard about in history, has lived on the same small spec of an irrelevant pale blue dot that we call planet earth.  I won’t go into the full detail of the video, as you can surely watch it yourself, but this video changed my perception on things a great deal, and is one of the main inspirations for this post.

I have come to the depressing but true realization that no matter what I do in life, how ever many places I go or number of people I meet; I will not live forever.  There is no fountain of youth, or any faint hint that one exists.  Scientific theories differ among how long a human being can possibly live but the most reputable sources estimate 125-130 years.  All theories, however; conclude that no human being, according to the code and laws of genetics, can possibly live forever.  It is quite possibly one of the most depressing concepts to grasp; that no matter what you do or successful you become, one day your life will come to an end. Your legacy or work may live on in the future, but you will not be there to witness it in a humanly form.  At 23, I can’t imagine getting old and one day dying; but it will surely happen.  Some hold religious beliefs that we will all one day be reincarnated into another entity or being,  and many others believe that their religious savoir Jesus Christ broke this mold, was resurrected and lives forever in a celestial promise land they call heaven .  But no matter what does happen when the time comes, I think all readers agree that our time on planet earth in our current human form is limited. All we can really do is admire everything the world has to offer and enjoy our time here the best way we know how.

This fact, while seemingly obvious, is quite difficult to grasp, but once I did understand more wholeheartedly, I started to realize things.  First, I know that in the end, only one person controls my life, me.  Other people may influence decisions I make and the path I take, but I am my own keeper(as is the same with every other human being).  And second, there will always be people who think the decisions I make are foolish, misguided, or downright ignorant.  In life I expect this, everyone that wants to accomplish goals in life, whatever these goals may be, should realize it to….and this brings me to the main point…

Look at history, or just the people you know personally.  There has not been one highly successful, self made person who did not come across someone, anyone, who thought some of their decisions were off the wall or totally wrong.  Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, the list goes on.  Every one of these people, whether you like or agree with their thoughts, have been or are very successful in their own right, and I guarantee each and every one of them had people who tried to bring them down, tried to tell them their ideas could not become reality, or ridiculed them for their actions at some point in time.  The point is that the bigger a person’s goals in life are, generally the more critics they will have.

Bringing things full circle, no matter what I or anyone does with their life, in time life will end. So in turn, doing what makes YOU happy is the greatest form of success.  You will find it in the dictionary… “success: noun -The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” It is, quite frankly, as simple as that; having an aim in life, and living up to and accomplishing that aim.  So whatever your aim may be in life, as long as your goals make you happy and you accomplish them, you could, in some forms, be considered just as successful as any person who has ever lived…and I will leave things on that thought to be continued at a later date.

How Tolerance Creates Change

After a semi-busy day of meetings we returned to our hotel room to the sound of loud, bangging, repetitive music that was, in all honesty, quite annoying.  I wanted to just try and ignore it, but Lisa insisted upon going exploring to see what was going on.  I would have to say that although her good ideas are few and far between, this was a rare good one (haha only joking of course)  The source of the mayhem were the celebrations  of a recently married couple, along with about 50 or so family members in traditional Hindi dress happily carrying on.  We looked on from a distance, confused as to what was going on, when a nice middle aged Hindi man involved with the wedding approached us.  In his broken English, he tried to explain to us the many cultural points of interest involved in the traditional ceremonies.  I got bits and pieces of what he was trying to explain, but the real enjoyment started when, surprisingly, he and his wife invited Lisa and I into his home for a cup of tea.  We really didn’t even think twice about accepting his offer.  It seems odd that we would randomly walk into the fourth story house of a man we just met ten minutes ago, but its common practice here in Nepal.  The couple was just genuinely interested in us and appreciative that we stopped to watch what was going on and to experience Nepali culture first hand…and I must say that lady’s tea was some of the best I’ve had here (and we have had a lot of tea!).  They were so accepting of us; we looked nothing like them, shared any of the same interests that I know of, spoke the same language, or even knew each others name.  He didn’t judge Lisa and I even one bit for the clothes we wore, what we looked like, or any of the rest of it.  It was one of the purest examples of tolerance that I have ever seen.

That made me think back to a conversation I had not so long ago with my mother actually.  She had just gotten back from spending time with the mother of one of my youngest sister’s close friends.  I not at all sure how the conservation started or came to this point, but this women made harsh (well down right racists) comments about a general group of people whose skin was darker than that of hers.  I won’t put words in this ladies mouth but comments steered toward the direction that dark skinned people shouldn’t be intermingled with light skinned people, and that if her daughter ever brought home a darker skinned man to meet the family, she would disown her (again maybe not the exact words used, but the context of things she said resembled these thoughts). At first, I was absolutely outraged to hear that this lady spoke like that; anger even started to seep through my pours as I wanted to march right down to her house and tell her what I thought of her.  As I gave it about a half hour to sink in, however; my anger toward her turned to sadness and a bit of pity, wondering how such an ignorance could remain in the mind of an educated women living in a western culture.  I also know that with how disturbed I was with her comments; there are plenty of others that share the same sentiment, or other ways of thought that single out a group of people for something that they simply cannot help  or something they deeply believe in(skin color and religious beliefs most generally but any others could apply)

It happens all across the world in almost every facet in life, with just about every person who ever lived participating (including myself).  We are so quick to anger, so quick to misjudge the intentions of others while only looking at a situation though our own eyes, rather than stepping into the shoes of the man on the other side of the coin. Our grudges and belief systems are so deeply entrenched that we often fail to realize what the thoughts and viewpoints of others could bring to the table.  We can’t bring ourselves to make the small daily sacrifices in our lives needed to make huge impacts in the lives of others.  We see difference in thought as problematic or stupid rather than interesting and insightful.  I am human as well, and I make every one of the same judgments I just mentioned from time to time.

I feel the way to sustainable change, however; is to come to the realization that we all generalize people, but to move forward we need to try to make improvements every day.  Just because we wouldn’t wear a cloak covering our entire body with the exception of an eye-slit to see, doesn’t mean we need to generalize the thoughts of an Arabian women who does so in a western culture.  If we see a man tattooed from head to toe, that does not mean that his intentions are evil.  If we can start to realize the good in people by giving them a chance to show good, our tolerance will lead to great things, not to mention a greater understanding of human nature in general.  While positive things can be accomplished with simple unnoticed good deeds, real large scale change only happens when people convince others that tolerance towards others is the key.  When this thought is practiced by just a few, good deeds spread like wildfire!

A Renewed Understanding

Hello everybody

My apologizes for not blogging for so long.  My work has taken up quite a bit of my time lately and Lisa and I just made the rigid, bumpy, and downright annoying 8 hour bus ride from Pokhara back to Kathmandu.  We know a travel agent friend here that would have been able to hook us up with a $60  35-minuite flight back, easily avoiding all the hassle and time ….but what fun would that be! Haha.  Anyhow, Lisa and I are in the same hotel we stayed at for our first 3 weeks here in Nepal, shooting the shit about random topics or trying to recall all the weird and crazy sights we have seen over the last month and a half.  I check CNN every day, trying to loosely keep up with the world around us, as it feels like we are in our own world, here in this tiny country surrounded by the highest peaks in the world.

Out the window behind my bed, I see makeshift brick layered houses, some sections being held up by wooden stilts. People are almost literally living on top of each other, with no personal space, let alone a comfortable back yard.  Random chunks of cement and small piles of garbage are scattered about aimlessly. Mangled street dogs roam freely, looking for an old rotten scrap to eat, while dozens of shop owners line the street outside our hotel, trying to make a sale to get by.  Smog pours into the sky with the bustle of chaotic traffic.  Teenagers hard at work peddling people on rigshaws at a snail’s pace share the same road with industrial size trucks, speeding taxis , and motorcyclist weaving in and out of traffic.  No painted lines or street sign govern traffic patterns, as it is more or less a free-for-all.

Lisa and I wake up in the morning to the sound of people gagging and vomiting, likely due to the pollution that fills the mouths and lungs of everyone that calls Kathmandu home.  Lisa made a good point last night while we shared a drink on our rooftop, that depressing would be the best word to describe the state of affairs here, and other similar places.  Kathmandu is an enchanting city filled with marvelous history, but although it is a promise land for those who come here from an even harder life, I see despair on the faces of many.  So many people here want more for their life, and even more so the future life of their children, but are unable to properly provide due to cultural disdain toward them in the form of a caste system that pushes people down and keeps them there for their entire life.

Although not quite as prevalent in more modernized cities here or many areas of India, there is a distinct caste system throughout Nepal.  People are born into different sects or levels of society (castes) People born into “higher” or “more prominent” castes are generally afforded more opportunities, enjoy an overall higher quality of life, and are looked at as a more dignified person.  As the system filters down, people of “lower” caste are given a much lesser chance for good employment, are generally far less educated and, overall, and are recognized as lower class citizens.  Still further down the list are those who are on the bottom floor of the system, those who have no caste within society are looked upon by some to be the scum of the earth.  This sounds horrible right!?!

Now let’s transition.  A system in which people are born much richer than others and afforded more opportunities because of it.   A system in which people who are born poor are looked down upon by some as being second class citizens or worse.  A system in which money along with family name and distinction play a greater role in some cases than a person’s general outlook on life and their willingness to help others…hmmm…  That’s sounds a lot like the country I grew up in, or just about every other nation across the world.  The point of this blog is not to demean the life of those who live in a less developed country; that approach would be me doing the same exact thing as I just stated above, generalizing people for the way they go about their live.   My purpose is rather to show that the differences in cultural thought here as oppose to my home nation are razor thin…basically identical in many regards.  I’ve been and worked in the Hamptons, or New York City and seen and met Wall Street executives and Fortune 500 CEO’s that stick their nose up to the less fortunate.  I myself have walked by homeless people on the side of the street in various places without even noticing their presence.  The way people may go about expressing these thoughts in society may differ, but the general principle, the overlying thought process is so similar.  This should make us really take a step back to re-evaluate the way we all live our lives, assuming the things that other people do are so wrong, when in fact, they are quite similar to the way we (or at least many other groups of people) live their lives.

You may need to read it twice, or even a handful of times.  You may have to remove yourself from my blog and think about it in your own unique way. But I feel that most of you will come to the same overall conclusion that we are not so different from others.  As I previously stated in a separate blog, we are all the same human beings with the same emotions and instinctive thoughts about others.  But again, these are my thoughts on my personal blog, and you have every right to disagree completely with what I say.  In any case, it is an interesting topic of discussion that really makes you possibly re-evaluate things if you are willing to contemplate with an open mind.

Volunteering… “Sustainably”

First of all, I noticed that since I am in Nepal, I have a handful of Nepali viewers’ every day, and want to make a few comments in regards to this.  I want to say that, above all else, I absolutely love living in Nepal.  The country has some of the most beautiful sights the entire world can offer and I have found the people to be nothing less than extremely giving and hospitable toward me.  I speak about Nepal in many different contexts in my writing and will continue to do so.  Some of the writing expressed in my blog relate directly to the country and my thoughts about the people and the way in which people live here.  I want to state clearly that none of what I say is in any way meant to offend anyone that may read what I write.  I find the cultural differences between my homeland and this country to be very interesting, and my writing is an attempt to explain to others how amazingly unique of a place this is, so they may one day feel inspired enough to come see Nepal firsthand. Moving on, I am excited to briefly explain some of the humanitarian work we are doing here while going into greater depth with my thoughts on volunteering in places like Nepal.

Apart from the work I have been sent to Nepal to do, I along with my friend Lisa have taken it upon ourselves to try to create real change in the lives of Nepali children through active, sustainable volunteer work.  The work we do really isn’t to be confused with mission work, or work otherwise based on religious values of any kind (not to critizes the great work that some of these groups do).  The work we do and the time we spend doing it is simply and solely done because we feel it is the right thing to do; to help others because we have been given to amazing opportunity to do so.  We do this because to evoke the change you want to see the world, you have to be proactive. You have to get up and prove to people that ordinary, average people like ourselves can do something to make positive and lasting change.

I will also address the question I tend to hear quite often from people at home; “Why not help people here in America, kids here need help to. What’s wrong with helping out here at home?”  My standard response to this question is… “There is nothing wrong at all with that”.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to help people who need it wherever you are in the world, including America, and  I would encourage anyone to do so.  What I would also encourage people with this sentiment to do is to go to a place that is widely accepted as an underdeveloped part of the world.   I would encourage anyone to do this really; to go to a place that has true, third world poverty, to experience and see it, and then decide whether or not their feelings remain unchanged.  I would say that from my experience in seeing different places around the world, that a huge majority of these people’s minds would be completely changed.

Shifting gears, our current situation here in Nepal is extremely positive with so many opportunities to get out there and start making a real difference.  We are especially focused on what I would describe as “sustainable volunteering”, in other words, doing things that make more long-lasting change.  As an example, while it is noble and heart-felt to feed the hunger, what is even better is to introduce a way to produce food in a highly cost-effective manner to underprivileged people.  One of the small projects Lisa and I are currently working on is trying to grow a low maintenance, low-cost vegetable garden on the rooftop of an orphanage housing 22 children here in Pokhara.  The garden, if all goes as planned, will be transformed into a great source of nutritious vegetables for children of the orphanage, while the orphanage itself will no longer have to purchase less nutritious more expensive produce at the market.

One of the things we feel is important with our work is actually being there, “getting our hands dirty”, and showing that we are truly invested in the positive change we are trying to create

 

The overriding goal of the project, however, is even more important.  If the garden works and the orphanage can effectively produce fresh veggies over time, they will be empowered by the fact that they are actually providing for the children there by themselves, without the hope that another tourist will come in and the save the day for that month with a donation of food.  Their ability to self-sustain will mean that they will be able to better provide their kids with the skills they need to grow up to become successful people who are able to carry out the same dreams that at one point seemed impossible.  Although a little vegetable garden seems quite insignificant, self sustainable ideas like it will create empowerment, and with empowerment, so much more is possible.

What we are excited about with this particular project, is that we will be here to hopefully see the process take place.  We will be able to see how to better complete similar mini-projects for the future, and we will be their hand in hand with the people the garden will benefit to show others that a simple idea and a small amount of time can really create change in the lives of others.  Please feel free to comment or provide other sustainable project ideas you have experience with…we  fairlynew at gardening also..haha…so any help in that department would also be appreciated.

The Sad Truth…

One of the topics I need to discuss in building the basic foundation for my blog is the lifestyle of a typical, average Nepali person, or a person from a similarly impoverished, third word nation.  I have not yet traveled to more remote areas of the country to witness the daily life of people from more distant lands, and will re-blog about my thoughts when that time comes.  I have, however, witnessed the daily life of those who live in the capital city, or here in Pokhara, and noticed its vast difference to that of city life in many places in the “western world”.  As a westerner myself, I am still partially ignorant to some of the facts of average Nepali life, and am constantly readjusting my view of the way I live, and how I can improve based on what I have seen.

The basic thought is, and we all have used this or heard the saying before; “You/I really don’t know how lucky you/I am”.  This statement could not be truer and I will never really be able to express it through words, and pictures, but I guess this is a blog so I am not left with too many other options. There are so many ways to approach me trying to explain this concept and I don’t know where to start, so I may begin to ramble on here but…

I grew up in a place that, from the moment I was born, someone was there to look after me at all times, to make sure that I was always fed so I could grow up healthy, to make sure that I had toys to play with and people to interact with so my mind was positively stimulated, to make sure that I had clothes to wear and a bed to sleep and a house in which to live so that I never had to worry.  When I got to toddler age, I had parents and others there to show me right from wrong, to nurture my growth to see to it that I went to school when the time was right and that I went to a good school, a place that could begin to give me the knowledge I needed to one day provide for myself.  Later in life I had a chance to go to college, to become part of the 1% of the world population with a college degree of some sort. I have been GIVEN so much in my life.  I capitalize GIVEN because it’s true, I didn’t earn the right to live in a house or be fed nutritiously or any of the rest, these things were GIVEN to me by people who care and want to see me succeed.  Sadly, most people in this country or those similar get few if any of the same things GIVEN to them.

It’s difficult to see the huge gap between rich and poor in the underdeveloped and developing world.  What this elderly women and millions like her wouldn’t do for a fairer shot…

(Photo acknowledgement goes to Lisa Pfaff)

An average person living here, though a resident of the more opportunity filled city life, face a much more challenging existence from the start.  I teach and spend time with a few dozen children here.  Most of them have probably forgotten the last time they actually took a proper shower or bath. Forget socks or shoes, most kids are lucky to have a pair of ragged beat up sandals with an old tattered tee-shirt and pair of pants…that’s its… the same old filthy tee-shirt and pants every day. Most can’t even dream of what it would be like to one day to go to college, as so many drop out of school before their teenage years to help the family survive.  Un-educated and misinformed, many turn to ways of making money that are extremely dangerous to anyone, let alone a small child.  Kids that come from low-income families are often cast out as worthless, good for nothing but hard labor for pennies on the dollar.  The saying “another day, another dollar” quite literally holds true for both kids and adults.  These people plainly have no chance to ever do anything in life other than work their ass off seven days a week, making less in a lifetime then you or I may make in a year.  Because I can fed myself, and have a decent bed to sleep in with a few extra bucks to spare puts me in a rare category of the wealthiest 5% of people in the world.

It is tough for me to wrap my mind around that fact, but here is another….just as easily as I am in the position I am, I could even more easily be in the shoes of the people I just described.  Because I was “luckily” born into a family and a place where I was GIVEN so many things doesn’t in the least sense make me a more privileged person or more deserving of the happiness life can bring us all in so many ways. My skin may differ in color but I bleed the same blood. I may take a different life path but I have the same emotions; happiness, sadness, jealousy, joy, despair.  My eyes may be blue instead of brown but I see the same beauty in nature.   I’m not a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslin, Jew, or even Christian for that matter, but I wish for the same happiness in life as people from all these belief systems do.  I am the same as the dirtiest old poverty-stricken man on the side of the street; we all are if you think about it.

If you continue to read my blog, this will be the essential theme throughout. I feel that if I keep this as the keystone of my thought process moving forward, I will be able to produce more thought-provoking entries, and more importantly, take a good look at myself in the mirror during my time here.  If you read this entry, please feel free to evaluate yourself (as I constantly do with myself) thinking of how we can all apply this sentiment to our lives in our own unique ways.

Please, feel free to comment on these topics, or any others that come to mind when reading…thanks and take care.

Namaste!

Hey Everybody!

Although most of you who read this initially will already know me personally, I will give a quick intro.  My name is Adam Laird and I am a 23-year-old recent college grad from Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  I write to you from Pokhara, Nepal, 7,500 miles away from the place I grew up, serving as the Director of Golf for the Himalayan Youth Golf Association (HYGA).  Through the organization, I, along with my good friend and co- adventure travel enthusiast, Lisa Pfaff work to enrich the lives of impoverished nepali children partially through the game of golf, but more importantly, through a determination to improve young people’s lives.  In doing so, our daunting task is to bridge the cultural difference gap between two opposite regions of the globe and prove that with genuine compassion for others, real, large-scale change is possible.

My blogging will be multi-purposeful in nature. For family members and friends, I’ll be sharing photos and short excerpts on the interesting things Lisa and I see and do during our time here in Nepal.  My true vision for this page, however; will be much more difficult to convey.

I assume that everyone that will ever read this blog knows that terrible things happen in this world every day.  You have all seen pictures or heard accounts of these terrible things; starving children in Africa, gunfire in the Arab Spring, terror groups plotting unspeakable crimes worldwide.  What most of us don’t fully understand (including myself) is why such things happen.  We hear about these things but we don’t see them firsthand, we don’t realize the scale at which atrocities are happening in the same world we live in.  My vision for this blog is to convey my thoughts on such topics, and attempt to show readers the truth, from my perspective, while living in one of the poorest places on earth.

Although young, at 23 I have had the great fortune to visit a small fraction of some of the world’s most beautiful places, and Nepal hovers toward the top of my list for sure.  This very morning I sat on the rooftop of my hotel/temporary apartment sipping from a cup of hot mint tea, overlooking the Annapurna Range, one of the world’s highest and most majestic set of mountain peaks.  My home-base, Pokhara is a backpacker’s paradise, a low valley set at the foothills of the mighty Himalaya.  Tourists flock here to take in the awe-inspiring views (although such views are not as often possible during the present monsoon season). One would think that with such an amazing setting, locals would be living comfortable, prosperous lives feasting off the revenue generated from eager westerners coming in by the busload to witness the beauty first hand.  The fact that an average man here makes less money in a year than many middle income Americans make in a week just doesn’t add up.

 Sunrise view from the rooftop of our apartment

Nepal is a country littered with extreme hardship and poverty. Inhabitants of the capital city, Kathmandu, live in an environmental disaster. Heaps of reeking garbage line the busiest streets of the city. The water of the Bagmanti, Nepal’s holiest river, is black as tar from the mass pollution that travels through it every day.  Its estimated four million citizens breath in a thick layer of smog that covers the entire city every day. And this is the capital city, where millions have flocked for higher paying jobs and the hope of a better life, this is the promise land…. And back to Pokhara, a city labeled for its amazing scenery, is also a city more secretively scared for its horrible injustices against women in the form of forced sex slavery and trafficking.  The secluded nature of the place serves as a perfect setting for some of the worst people humanity has to offer, those who profit from young women who are uneducated and misinformed, ending up with the terrible misfortune of being sold from owner to owner as if they were a piece of out of date furniture.

These are the best areas that Nepal has to offer; still it gets much worse, with families living in more remote areas that are literally a bad crop season away from starvation.  Children who don’t even know what it means to receive an education, let alone a college degree.  People who have absolutely zero chance of ever living a life filled with anything other than hardship that I could not even begin to imagine.  And for as impoverished as this country is, there are other nations whose people have it worse, MUCH worse.  These are all topics of discussion that will appear in my blog over time.  For now, I will be sitting in my fully furnished room wearing a pair of comfortable Reebok mesh shorts and my Led Zeppelin tee-shirt, typing on my widescreen HP laptop…just contemplating how lucky I truly am to be in a place that affords me the opportunity to help tell the story of people who have no means to do so on they’re own.  It is my goal to do them the best justice I possibly can by igniting your interest in the topics I discuss, so we all can gain a greater understanding of what we can do to create change wherever possible.

Take care…Stayed tuned…And tell others to read as well.  Also, check out my friend Lisa’s travel blog : http://lisapfaff.wordpress.com/

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