“You start dying slowly:

If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain

If you do not go after a dream

If you do not allow yourself

At least once in your lifetime.

Arun Sharma



You start dying slowly;

if you do not travel,

if you do not read,

If you do not listen to the sounds of life,


Don’t let yourself die slowly

Do not forget to be happy!”

~ Pablo Neruda♡ (Chilean poet, winner of Nobel prize in 1971)


St. Augustine said, “Those who don’t travel have read only one page of life.”  To experience the life you must get out and explore it firsthand. Travel opens your mind and heart to newer and wider horizons.


Dhulikhel has always been a favorite destination for me for work or play. My motivation for the trip was to meet the friends I knew, re-live and refresh memories with people and nature. An hour ride to Dhulikhel is always captivating to my heart, spinning and spiraling through the accent of Sanga’s winding road and the sight of yellow mustard flowers blooming and the brown ripe wheat fields, viewing the imposing super tall Mahadev on the hill,  lush green trees over the mountains and the multi-flowers in yellow, red, pink are always refreshing. “Colors reflect LIFE” I remember, my mother said when I was a child! Perfect wisdom!  Wisdom: add natural colorful varieties in food healthier it gets.

“…..Step on forward.

And face the rising sun,

Your journey to become you again,

Has just begun.” (Mess entire)

The nature, variety of people I encountered, and the casual conversations across generations I had on life and love turned out to be more than interesting.  My last day of travel was in the pristine village of Sahel in Sindhupalchowk, about 45 minutes hike from Barabise.  A short walk along Bhotekosi, a cup of steaming hot tea on the way added a fun detour to the journey. I had been to Chautara; Sindhupalchowk in 2015 after the massive earthquake that crumbled everything in the village as the mountain cracked open and with the tremors huge rocked gulped everything in its way in a matter of a very long minute.  Over 90% of the living huts had turned to rubbles. This scale of the tragedy was something I had never seen or dealt with in my life. I accompanied Manisha Koirala, who was charged by then PM Sushil Koirala and United Nations to provide moral support, and sympathy and help heal the psychological, and the emotional trauma left behind on the victims.  I remember the blank stares of young mothers looking for hope and plea for assistance. The scale of the tragedy that took thousands of lives was hard to fathom.   Profound tragedy loses words as they make you feel so barren, vain, and helpless. It reminds me, of how fragile everything in life is, as all collections in life could vanish in a split second as it tragically did then.  Catastrophe leaves with wounds that take a long time to heal if at all it ever does. You wonder: Where is the control you sought all your life and took for granted? Mother Nature had shown no mercy on humans or cattle or the structures people had built for years. Does God even care? Does God even have a soul? If there even is a God? Questions arose. Seven years later it was a different occasion to visit Sindhupalchowk in happier moments of celebration.  Tragedies too are transient and things change for better over time.  Human resilience, hope for a better tomorrow, and renewed optimism take over and it MUST be another life lesson.   The pristine Sehele looked like green mountains with its ridges and valley like I was in Austria or Switzerland, actually prettier than that, so I felt.

My first day in Dhulikhel was a few hours of interaction with Kathmandu University colleagues on the main campus and the Law School. I even took questions from freshmen in Law School on their future and careers. Both of these sites sit in the midst of beautiful landscapes of green hills, colored flowers, and varieties of greeneries captivating my heart as always. A few rounds of sweet tea and freshly brewed good black coffee stimulated billions of neurons as they traveled from nerves of the super-sensitive tongue to the brain which refreshed memories supplying an adrenaline rush to the brain. Caffeine does wonders to my mood state, I always knew. Early morning, I sat alone basking in the warm sunshine savoring the green hill’s scenery, and the faint whitish, grayish mountain range in the north which looked like faint lines of a painting in the making.  On the second day, I accompanied Mr. Shyam Mohan Shrestha, an author of his very first book on his bus trip journey to Paris in the 70s and an entrepreneur, who had dreamt, built, and then sold the famous Mirabel Resort. He was proud to share the story of his dream vision into reality as his face and eyes were radiantly beaming with pride when he was describing the vision taking real live shape. Creativity and passion are precious for any artist or a scientist or even an explorer. I always knew that and have experienced those feelings myself.  How do you give words to tides of emotions? Can words even do justice? A real challenge! The custom-crafted lunch hosted by him prepared by the hotel staff with the labor of love for their former boss, included grilled fresh local trout, salad, and tangy pieces of chicken with rounds of chilled Carlsberg and freshly brewed hot coffee was one of the best no doubt. The manager Dipak Thapa and the staff prepared the food and served it with captivating smiles and love.   The smiles combined with spiced delicacies do wonders to our psyche, I have felt that feeling all my life, whether it is in Nepal, Thailand, or France as I recall. “Allow you to feel” be free, open up, loosen all your internal knots and let emotions ooze out and flow like a stream of gentle waves. Immerse at the moment as “No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied … since the mind when distracted absorbs nothing deeply, but rejects everything which is, so to speak, crammed into it.” (Seneca).  Realize the food is not just calories for a hungry body, it also is a celebration where the sensory nerves of the tongue fire the dendritic neurons in the mind and heart, in unison they play music to your psyche, enhance and mood state in wave-like pulses as it takes quantum leaps by seconds. You feel as if you are surfing and rocking with the gentle waves of a slow-moving stream. Have you experienced taking a boat ride headed towards gigantic Niagara Falls where millions of gallons of water are dropping with an enormous sound, fury, and energy while misty water is breaking into tiny molecules? You must try that when you get a chance. The immensity of nature pumps your heart faster with wonder and excitement.  Feel that power of waves that words can’t capture!

Munching food in slow bites is a bit different: the juices of the food tingle your taste buds and in turn the neurons fire your brain and elevate the sensibility of experience taking you to newer unexplored horizons.  Looking outside the few flowers of guras (rhododendron) the pink and red roses, even blooming azaleas, and a variety of yellow flowers titillates your heart.  “Food is a celebration” I commented just as French and Thais know and live the celebration. I had advised the younger Indians I met, “Celebrate the food as it is a gift of God. Slow down in this journey of life and savor the moments all over again”, I repeated that to the folks who asked me the tips to enjoy life and seek “thrill”, the young petite fair-skinned smiling lady had asked me. The other bit darker young lady had questions on software career and education opportunities in the USA.


“Fresh tea leaves

And coffee beans

That she softly brings

Nurturing my every need

Beneath the giving tree.”


On the third day, I had planned to be all alone, roam around the town of Dhulikhel and enjoy the vista, blooming flowers, and leisurely walk around and munch snacks as my body needed with no plans for a conventional coursed meal.

As planned I did this all alone knowing very well I will be exploring and traveling the universe only in my mind.   I sat on the balcony outside of Dhulikhel Lodge enjoying the greenery in the hours of sunset and watching the surrounding valley change colors from bright green to smoky dark green to gray-tinted turning to charcoal gray. The sun was gone and the faint light of radiating moon’s soft glow turned the contours of the hills like a charcoal painting with the shining light of hotels, resorts, and homes in the surrounding. To catch the night view I moved to nearby hotel Asha’s rooftop balcony to view the valley changing colors in moonshine. The hills looked gray with neon lights of the resorts in the surroundings. The moon was shining and it wasn’t perfectly round with dark spots visible.  Nothing is quite perfect I said to myself. Perfection is a utopia! Just a concept! I needed two cups of hot Nepali tea and cups of hot water to keep on going for hours to savor the evening. It was a good choice on a breezy evening where the air was getting cooler by seconds. The tiny dots of the distant stars were faint and overshadowed by the hotel’s bright neon lights.  Soon it started feeling chilly to my bones, the light jacket was not quite enough for the body, perfect time to grab a light snack with hot water to drink and call the day and hit the shack. My room and in the close-by hotel were about eight-minute walk. At 8.30 PM I was under the Sirak and blanket as the night was getting colder by the minute. When I entered the dream state of sleep I didn’t even know. Getting tired and a good rest is rewarding to the brain and the body that I always knew. An interlude! Good, clean break on a very tiring day! Nothing is sweeter but a full and relaxing rest after a tiring day. The body must re-charge itself. Cruising heaven in dreams can be exciting but deep slumber is yet another reward for a tired body. The drama of the day had finally ended. Mind’s curtain had closed for the day.

(To be continued: Musings on love and life! Acknowledgment with thanks: the pictures were captured by Shyam Mohan Shrestha and Manaslu Kanchha)