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  • Most of our work is finished. This afternoon we rolled up the rush mats for the last time and began tidying the workshop in readiness for our departure on Saturday. While it'll be good to get back to Kathmandu, catch up with friends and grab a little R&R, I'll miss the team. They teach me far more than I could ever teach them, about life, laughter, and the value of relationship. 

    We swap words in each other's languages -Nepali and English bouncing back and forth like ping pong balls. Blue - Nilo. Red - rato. Black - kahlo. Green - haryho. Very good - bahout nimen hai. Finished - siddhyo. Gorgeous, beautiful, ek dam ramro.

I wish I had the words to tell them how much I respect them, for their skill, their grace and dignity.

    Towards the end of the afternoon we pile into a jeep with Rekha, Sanjay, Sujan and Sangita and hurtle along the east/west highway, Lal Bahadur at the wheel, light fading as rain clouds close in. There’s a point on the road, a straight stretch, where for about half a mile the pipal trees reach out to one another across two narrow lanes of potholed tarmac. As we enter this tunnel of misty green I think of relationships built and strengthened, I think about the power we have to reach beyond ourselves and touch the lives of others, building bridges as beautiful as an avenue of pipal trees.

    It’s not long before we reach Mahendranagar and the home of Rekha and Sanjay, a room about 9 feet square with a toilet which they share with 13 neighbours. Their families didn’t agree with their marriage so threw them out to fend for themselves. Here family support networks are strong and to suddenly lose that support is a big thing.

    We sit on the wooden platform that serves as a bed and I notice a few clothes hanging from a nail. Sanjay’s bicycle leans against a pile of firewood - cooking fuel for their small clay oven. And that’s pretty much it. Then I see the way they look at each other and realise they’re rich, in love at least, and I feel a pang of longing for someone to look at me that way. And then I’m ashamed at my selfishness.

    Having money makes life more comfortable, that’s undeniable, but it can never buy the things we really need - acceptance, kind words, compassion, attentiveness; a willing companion to share the road. And who doesn’t want that?

    All too soon we’re back in the jeep and on our way back to base.

    Overhead, pipal trees stretch out their branches.
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