Bhaktapur, Newari Feast and Ayurveda Day

As we settle down for 10 nights in the our new housing, we thought no better time to reflect on our last week and a half of exploring Nepal – from its bustling cities to its quiet mountainous villages.

The morning after our time with Pramila and her family, we stuffed our stuff sacks, shouldered our bags, and made our way to our next destination – Bhaktapur. We were greeted by Soorja in historic Bhaktpur Durbar Square following a quick bite to eat and unpacking at our guest house.

Soorja, born and raised in Bhaktapur, guided us around his home town – one filled with temples decorated with intricate woodworking, medieval cobblestone streets mostly too narrow for cars but not for some horn happy motorcycles, and steaming food stalls packed with patrons and cooking momos.

Following our tour of Bhaktapur and the accompanying taste of its ancient history, Soorja led us to his family home for a classic Newari feast and family environment we have come to know as characteristic of Nepal.

The feast served by Soorja’s twin daughters and his wife, included 15+ dishes, all unique to Newari cuisine. We ate from plates made from leaves, struggling to adapt our hands as adequate utensils for shoveling (yet favoring) all of the Kayastha family’s delicious food into our mouths.

Our next day in Nepal was a mixture of educational exposure, unexpected oddities, and a fair amount of hot oil. We started our day by driving out to the Ayurvedic Clinic and educational facilities associated with Dr. ShivaRam (our guide the first day at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu!) and Dr. Bidur Shresta.

We began our introduction into Ayurvedic Medicine with a yoga lesson led by a native Nepali, Madhab Dhakal. Our yellow track suit-clad instructor led us through exercises such as “running in place” or “energetic swaying side to side” effectively redefining all of our understanding associated with peaceful yoga meditation.

The rest of our morning and afternoon included a presentation by Dr. ShivaRam Khatiwoda on Public Health and an introduction lesson on Ayurvedic Medicine by Dr. Bidur Shresta. Despite their informative slideshows and lectures, nothing quite prepared our group for the treatments in store for us at the Ayurvedic Clinic down the road from the associated educational facilities.

Our Ayurvedic experience was one with a very slippery ending. Before our treatments, Dr. Bidur Shresta took the time to give us an assessment (using the Kapha, Pita, Vata doshas) and medical advice through one on one consultations, where he also gave the recommendation of all-natural herbal supplements to aid in our recovery in our respective ailments. Following our consultations, we all had the privilege of receiving Shiro Dada, a classic Ayurvedic therapy (of warm, herbally medicated oil poured over the forehead for at least 20 minutes) for cleansing the third eye, improving memory and increasing positivity. We all bonded over the shared mess of Shiro Dada hot oil caught in our hair and stuck in our clothing. In addition to Shiro Dada, we also received full body massages and full body steam.

Our drive home from our Ayurvedic melodrama was one filled with some oddly placed Sanskrit songs and anticipation of Charlie’s birthday dinner. And, a dinner it was! French fries were ordered, bonding games played, and some birthday songs were sung. The man, the myth, the legend, the twenty-year-old Charlie, got some spongy chocolate cake with a sparkler on top to go with the reminisce of Shiro Dada hot oil smell to lull him and the rest of us to sleep on that perplexing and celebratory day.