Sitting in the large amphitheater, Angie suddenly had the urge to stand up and clap her hands. Just clap, and clap and clap for the wonderful, relaxing, refreshing, calming, soothing music played by the orchestra… She had been attending those events by the Philharmonic Orchestra ever since she came back to her home country. She even missed them badly when she was away. She would imagine herself while hanging around in Kathmandu that she would attend another Orchestra event, feel the joy, listen to the music and transcend all that into peace and happiness…

And tonight, she was sitting and listening. She wanted badly to cling to these moments, to externalize those sounds, to hold on to the memory, but the battery of her phone was almost empty and she hadn’t brought her camera with her. She sat there, enjoying, dreaming, hoping… living.

The event this time took place on a Thursday. Usually such events take place on a Friday evening at 8:30pm in a church in Downtown Beirut.  And unusual memorable events, take place on any other weekday. Today the event was unusual. It featured school children aged between 7 and 12 years who had been rehearsing since last December. These children sang in French, Arabic, Greek, Spanish and many other languages… They clapped their hands, made movements with their arms, and created noises with their hands and mouths.

At the end of the event, the orchestra leader was so happy with the children’s performance that he spent along with the orchestra members and the entire audience two minutes clapping. The whole thing was like a dream. Angie felt in heaven walking with angels…

This morning, when Angie woke up after a long tiring night, where she struggled with her fears, her self-image, her beliefs and her anxiety, she found herself remembering one of her adventures in Kathmandu. She couldn’t remember exactly which weekday it was. But she could imagine how her day started. Time didn’t seem to matter or to exist for Angie in Kathmandu. She would wake up at 8am, meditate for some time, shower, brush her teeth, prepare herself for breakfast and leave home at 9:50am for her 2 hour teaching duties. The time spent in teaching would fly like dust in the wind. She would leave school at noon, return home, correct papers or prepare new lessons, or she would walk to the Garden of Dreams or go on an adventure somewhere close by. She used to walk a lot in that city. She loved hanging around in that place, discovering new streets, shopping, bargaining, eating, dreaming, meeting new friends, and taking pictures. She would never leave home without her camera, except when she had loads of papers to correct and little time to do anything else. And by 6pm or 7pm at the latest, she always knew that she needed to be at home. Sunset was usually between 6pm and 6;30pm. Streets are not very well lighted in Kathmandu, and when it is dark, walking or being outside isn’t very advisable.

There were very few times when she didn’t make it home by 7pm. The first time was very stressful for Angie. She went for a hike on a Sunday morning but she left home late because she couldn’t decide what she wanted to do with her day. You see, in Nepal, time doesn’t seem to exist. The notion of time that Angie was used to in her home country didn’t seem to apply in Nepal. At around noon when she made it by bus to Nagarkot, she decided to go for a few hours walk from Nagarkot to Changunarayan. The weather was amazing, her backpack wasn’t very heavy, she had her camera with her and her cellphone was fully charged. She walked…

She loved walking in the country side. The place was deserted except from a few people whom she encountered from time to time and who gladly helped her with directions or asked her a few questions. They all smiled genuinely even the poorest tired workers. The landscape was amazing, it showed fields of rice in a mixture of colors, trees, workers, green, brown, yellow,… The sky had beautiful dreamy clouds. In the horizon, Angie wondered whether the clouds were playing around or whether the high Nepali mountains were covered by snow and visited by clouds. She walked, took photos, thought, dreamt, relaxed, and forgot about the entire world… She was regaining her freedom. She was becoming the unstoppable, fearless young woman who had left everything and came to Nepal searching for answers.

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The whole trip was amazing until Angie realized that she was running out of time. It was 3pm when Angie figured out that she would need a minimum of 2 hours to reach Changunarayan, a lovely village famous for its temple which is considered the oldest temple in Nepal. She thought she could make it, if she walked a bit faster or if she took fewer photos.

She made it around 4:30pm to the entrance of the village. The officer who handed her a ticket told her that a bus from Changunarayan to Baktapur or Kathmandu leaves the village square every 30 minutes. She promised him to see the village and the temple and return to the square by 5pm. She sprinted to the village, took some photos here and there, missed a few places and made it on time to the square. She then waited with a few other people for the bus. It never came. They waited for about 30 minutes before deciding to walk out of the village towards the main road. Taxis were scarce in that area. There were hardly any cars or people or bicycles or motorcycles or cats or dogs or anything… Angie was worried. She wasn’t afraid. She was only worried. She wasn’t anxious. She didn’t fear for her safety, she knew she was in good hands. She wanted to find a hotel to spend the night, but she had to administer her first exam the next day to her classes and she couldn’t be late. There was an American couple among the group of people who walked towards the highway. 15 minutes later, a bus school took them to another village. They all went down not sure where to go especially Angie and the American couple. Angie walked a bit, it was getting dark, a bit too dark. She asked for directions on what to do to return home and a nice young man explained to her which buses to take and where to get off these buses. He even made sure to put her on the first bus and instructed the driver to drop her at her next stop. Was she worried about not making it home? Not at all. She only worried that she would miss dinner and above all, that the family she was staying with would be worried about her… She didn’t want to call the family because she frankly didn’t know where she was and she didn’t want them to panic or anything else. She knew she could handle all that.

She got off the first bus, asked for directions on where to stand to take the second bus and observed the road at night. It didn’t look like any road she had seen before in any other country. It was different, lovely, dusty, and unique… She stopped a bus and read to him from the palm of her hand the name of the place she wanted to go to. He agreed to drive her there. The bus was full and Angie was seated near the entrance. A Nepali couple with their lovely little child, started to ask her where she was going and where she lived. They told the bus driver about her final destination and the driver drove her there. At first, she thought that he was taken his usual road, but when the bus started to become empty, except for very few passengers, she suddenly understood that he had driven all that way for her. She was touched. She couldn’t believe what was actually happening. When the bus reached an area Angie was familiar with, and where she did her best to recognize amidst the dark night and the very few lights, she paid the driver, thanked him for his help and went off the bus. She was in very good hands, she knew it, she felt it…

So this morning, she remembered that adventure and she found herself laughing between her tears. She told herself that she faced harder issues, and a few hurdles in her new work weren’t going to stop her. The storm was over. Outside, the rain fell smoothly, beautifully, and slowly… Walking out of the orchestra event, she felt wonderful. She knew that the best is yet to come.

Thank you for reading.

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