Welcome to twospareribs. Which is finally a thing!
The intention here was to join the blogosphere with blog about food. But bear with me while I segue into a shpiel about a mountain kingdom and some pashmina shawls.
Recently, I’ve returned from an overseas trip which involved 2 months of trekking in the Nepal Himalaya. It was a return journey, as I’d lived in Nepal as a volunteer for 3 months just after finishing school 5 years ago. I’d been waiting for the right time to go back. Turning 23 and graduating with my Masters was definitely that time.
Unfortunately, three and a half weeks after leaving Nepal, a huge bloody earthquake ripped apart the country.
It was so strange that it happened… only a few days before leaving Kathmandu, I had been standing atop Nargarkot Tower with my Nepalese friend Ravi, looking down on Kathmandu, and thinking “Ebeth is right – an earthquake here would change this place forever.”
Ebeth is a girl I met at my hostel in Kathmandu – she majored in geophysics back in the States, and was about to start her Masters studying seismic activity in Mongolia. We trekked together for two weeks on the Langtang and Tamang Heritage Trails and she would point out rock formations and explain their existence by peering at direction of the grain on their surface.
She also talked about an earthquake that was coming to Nepal – not any oogly boogly premonitions. Based on where Nepal sat, on top of a major fault line in the earth’s crust, the country was about due for an earthquake. The last one had been 80 years ago, and seismologists were concerned that the country needed to prepare for such a natural disaster – it was only a matter of time.
Looking down on Kathmandu from Nargarkot tower, I regurgitated some of Ebeth’s words to Ravi. “You know, an earthquake here would be a bloody disaster, Ravi.” He nodded.
“I mean, the city would just crumble – look at it!” Ravi didn’t seem to be listening to me – he was busy posting a photo on Facebook on his phone (we’d taken a selfie a couple of minutes before). I understood. An earthquake, sure, that would be shit. But why dwell on the possibility – you could get hit by a bus tomorrow on the Ring Road. No one in his immediate family could remember the last earthquake.
Trekking the Annapurna circuit and then the Langtang trail, I was constantly reminding myself that I was truly in the presence of Nature Gods, or mountain spirits (or my blood oxygen level had dropped enough for me to think I was). How could mother nature make a land so perfect? From the spectacular change in seasons right down to the way the locals lived off the mountain, shared the responsibility of herding the yaks and horses and welcomed the Tibetan New Year.
I got a facebook message from Ebeth two days ago.
Chorten, the woman that we’d stayed with in Langtang whilst trekking, had been killed in the avalanche that had flattened the entire village.
I’d known for a week that Chorten and her family had likely been killed. But I had told myself that she was too good a human to have been one of them. She would be one of the survivors, because I couldn’t imagine her never smiling again. I couldn’t imagine her weathered features slack and her eyes not alive and laughing.
Those perfect places I visited have been irreparably damaged. Sure, houses can be rebuilt. But the families who have been torn apart by the earthquake and all its aftershocks will be forever changed. In Langtang village, 200 were killed and only 12 survived.
How does a community come back from that? I’m unsure, but I want to give them all the help I can muster.
So, before being a blog about food, this will be a website about pashmina, cashmere and silk scarves. Which, conveniently, you can buy to support the people of the Langtang Valley, who are in need of food, clean water, shelter and security.
I’ve put together a page on the quake here – just some articles and photos I found particularly illuminating.
Or, you can go ahead and check out the scarves here.