The Sun is in the Wrong Half of the Sky

Sisters Kate and Josephine Neldner in in front of the Dhaulagiri range. Photo: K. Neldner
Sisters Kate and Josephine Neldner in in front of the Dhaulagiri range. Photo: K.Neldner

By LWF Backstage Pass participants Kate and Josephine Neldner, Australia

A new descriptor has entered our vocabulary after our time on the Backstage Pass; 'Nepali'. A Nepali five minutes means anything up to half an hour. A Nepali 'not far' could mean a four hour hike. 'Flat' means no steps but nothing that could be described as solely horizontal. A Nepali 'hello' (namaste) is in fact an honour to the divine within. A Nepali 'thank you' is unnecessary, because this is a culture that gives generously without reward.

My sister and I joined the Backstage Pass as an adventure as well as a chance to experience an ethical form of tourism in Nepal. As Australians, we enjoy the full meaning of our national anthem; "we are young and free... we have wealth for toil... our land abounds in natures gifts are beauty rich and rare." We live a life of happy affluence under a bright sun in the northern sky. We have travelled extensively but despite this experience Nepal leaves us perplexed, fascinated and a little off-centre. Being immersed into the lives of people with so little in comparison to us necessitates a re-evaluation of our own lives. We acknowledge a duality of feeling both immensely blessed and very guilty in the standard of living we enjoy. The landscapes of Nepal, timeless in the imposing and majestic beauty, remind us of the small, short length of our own human lives. We are shown how little we actually control, despite our western importance and power, by there ephemeral, constantly changing state under the force of butting tectonic plates and the annual swing from monsoon to dry. We are left stripped raw, unsure of how to process what we have seen and done, disorientated by a sun that was in the wrong half of the sky.

We will be thinking about, relaying stories from and recounting what we have learnt from Nepal for years to come. The eleven days of the Backstage Pass were deceptively short, for they have come with a lifetime of memories. They leave behind an undeniable need to keep a thread of connection to this land of contrasts that has left us profoundly moved.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.