Not Enough Time
Trip Start Jul 20, 2013
7Trip End Aug 15, 2013
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Laxmi and I sat down upstairs for a while chatting as best we could through the language barrier. She disappeared into the adjacent room for a moment and came out smiling with a red pashmina shawl.
"This, for you. Is okay?" Of course it was.
I felt guilty accepting any gift from them considering they'd just housed and fed me for nearly a week with Sudip rejecting my attempt to pay them, but I had to accept. In an almost Jewish-motherly nagging manner, she made me promise to return some day with a girlfriend and not alone. I chuckled and promised to do my best.
A small stack of green bangles came next. "This, for your Mom. See? Nepali bangles. You tell her Laxmi gave it." Will do. Susaan and Sudip also had gifts, small trinkets but as always the thought was what counted; their hospitality was good a gift enough.
Soon it was time for Laxmi to head off to the clinic. She dragged Susaan off the computer and we all went up to the roof to take some farewell photos. By now my camera was really on the fritz with only one setting working properly, only Susaan seemed able to get it clicking. He clicked so many times it probably burned out what few lens settings were still functioning. It was good fun though.
I wasn't sure, traditional modesty and all, if I should hug Laxmi as we said goodbye, but it apparently didn't matter as gave me a big maternal embrace before I could make it awkward. She had two more gifts to give before leaving, these two religious. She brought out a plate of red face paint and rubbed a tikka on my forehead, then wrapped a white Tibetan blessing scarf around my neck.
"Is blessing, for good luck."
I thanked her and we parted at last. This left only Manabi and Susaan around with Sudip awake somewhere but momentarily MIA. Isha, apparently the only unfortunate soul who still had class, popped her head upstairs and gave a sweet goodbye at one point. Susaan asked me to follow him on one last walking tour of Pepsikola. It wasn't too long a walk, stopping by the aunt's house briefly and making our way back home within a half hour. He wanted to race again but this time I knew better.
I wrapped up my packing and sat down in the common room to twiddle my thumbs with about two hours to kill before departure time. Susaan asked to see my flipcam. He wanted to film more One Direction covers which Manabi thought was absolutely hilarious. Time passed quickly.
Eventually, Sudip entered saying he'd gotten a taxi to take me to the airport and I'd best head out. Susaan tried strapping on my backpack but it was way too heavy for him. He put it down once satisfactory photo proof of his strength was taken. The three of us walked outside. Manabi waved goodbye from the gate and made a half-joking crying motion.
Sudip opened the taxi door. "Do not pay him more than 300 rupees, okay?" The stress from the exams hadn't worn off yet, he seemed pretty anxious about my making the flight in time. The stress was a bit contagious but I made sure not to rush my farewell with him and Susaan. Many brotherly hugs were shared.
I closed the taxi door, looked back on the house one last time, and trying not to get too wound up refocused on making the flight.
The taxi zoomed past a giant billboard by the airport:
"SEE YOU AGAIN
- Nepal Ministry of Tourism"
I made the flight despite unusually high and chaotic security, found my window seat, and watched as the crystal clear view of the valley flew out from under. Unlike last time though I was sure I'd see this place again-I didn’t realize how much I missed the people here.
Until next time, Pepsikola...