Swagatam Khalid

Swagatam Khalid

By Khalid Khan

June 5, 2017

स्वागतम् (swagatam) Thrive Nation! Since this is my first blog and my first time in Nepal, it is only appropriate that I introduce myself to you. I was born and raised in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and then moved to Syracuse, New York where I am currently pursuing a degree in Economics as a senior. I also have a South Asia background which allowed me to practice multiple dialects while growing up, including Urdu, Bangla and Hindi, and gave me an appreciation and passion for culture in the region.

With that in mind, I finally arrived at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal on May 28th!

As my flight approached the runway, I looked over the magnificent landscape of Kathmandu and marveled at the spectacle that Nepal contained. The dips of the valleys, the majesty of the distant mountains hiding behind a screen of fog and the lush greenery was nothing short of a breathtaking one…a combination of nature I had not yet seen before. Karma and Ryan were both at the entrance to receive me, and each graciously wrapped a khata around my neck upon arrival.

As the days went on, I learnt (to my delight) that many people know Hindi in Nepal as Bollywood movies and Hindi songs are prevalent. I was able to instantly click with Karma and we connected on several levels. We talked about Bollywood movies, knew the lyrics to many Hindi songs and talked about food which we both enjoyed growing up. It was almost as though I was catching up with a childhood friend. When we don’t have Karma around us, I serve as a back-up translator for the team and begin conversations with “Hindi ati?”, meaning “do you know Hindi?”

The dusty and broken streets, the fresh morning chai, the savory afternoon daal bhaat, the shops jamming to Hindi music, the friendly stray animals and the intense heat from the sun all remind me of my second home; Bangladesh. Nepal has a sort of a ‘rawness’ that I craved after being away from Bangladesh for so long.  

On our assessment trip to Melamchi, the thrill of the bumpy and broken roads rocking the entire bus and everyone in it as it inclined the mountains was nothing short of amusing. I was able to see breathtaking views in the foothills of the Himalayas up close. We were greeted with an extraordinary looking orange khata and served a variety of fruits and our team’s favorite drink, Fanta. The warm welcome and hospitality of the people reminded me of my own village in Bangladesh. At this point, I couldn’t distinguish between Melamchi and my home…until I stepped outside. Being surrounded by green hills and mountains that gave off a tropical vibe and a sense of isolation, it felt as though we were in a place that was elevated from the rest of the world.

Being able to talk to many locals in Hindi and being familiar with and enjoying many of the food available here, Nepal has welcomed me well! I am excited to see what is in store for me in the near future. Follow our journey on YouTube to see more!

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