You Had Me at Namaste….A Love Letter
November 16, 2010 • Spiritual Adventures
“Nepalese greet each other much in the same way as people do everywhere else in the world – i.e. with a cheery sign of recognition and a chat. The traditional Nepali greeting, and farewell, is to raise both hands gracefully, palm to palm, and close to the body, in what is known as namaste”. This comes directly from the little Customs & Etiquette of Nepal book I purchased pre travels.
To the author of that little book, Sunil Kumar Jha I have this to say. “Um, have you ever been to New York City? People barely greet one another period, let alone put our palms together gracefully, show respect and have a chat! Really, everywhere in the world, wouldn’t that be so very nice?.”
To Nepal, I say, “You had me at Namaste!”
I received my first Namaste from a young man on my fight to Kathmandu as we stepped off the plane. I say ‘given’ because it truly does feel like a gift, every time you receive this greeting. He clearly knew I was a foreigner (hmmm…maybe the hair?) and was excited to hear about where I was from and where I was going. He gave me the number of his family’s home and told me if I needed anything I should not hesitate to call. As he slipped through customs quickly he once again pressed his hands together at his heart, looked me straight in the eyes and with a slight sweet bow of his head forked over a namaste. I like this place. People are nice.
Namaste from the patient driver who had waited outside the Kathmandu airport for almost two hours past my estimated arrival time to take me safely through the crazy crowds and safely to my hotel.
Namaste and a personal escort from one of the hotel managers back to the airport to retrieve my luggage that decided to take a later flight that day.
Namaste as my new friend’s café owner at the airport handed me a cup of tea while we waited for my luggage to arrive (which I pretended to drink ,still being a little weary of the water on day 1)
Namaste from the children in Bandipur who wanted to take pictures with my camera., who not for one second wanted anything more, like the actual camera.
Namaste from the pashmina shop owner in Pokhara with the gigantic smile who’s floor we sat on for 3 hours as he unfolded scarf after scarf and offered us ‘best price’
One of my fellow travelers actually received a Namaste from an elephant in Chitwan.
A Namaste is free, you can get them anywhere in Nepal, and they come with absolutely no strings attached. They come from the men, the women, the young, the old, the poor, the poorer, the cows and the chickens seem to say namaste with their eyes. Okay, maybe not the chickens so much. It is the gift that the Nepalese people keep on giving. Wholeheartedly.
The Nepalese people also smile naturally, they are actually brought up to do so according to Sunil Kumar Jha. But I didn’t just take his word for it. I felt it every day.
For the next ten days, namaste from everyone, all day, every day. Thank you Nepal, I will cherish every one.
PS: I’ll let you know how my little namaste experiment works out in NYC. So far, mostly weird looks. Wonder how the office is going to react when I show up at my new gig on Monday in my Sari with a dot on my head!
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