It has been many months – since September and the start of the tourist season in Nepal – since we have heard from Kamal, Jasper’s dad. Now that Kamal is keeping himself employed as a lodge manager in the Langtang valley, his and his family’s life is revolving around the two tourist seasons in their country: post-monsoon (September to December) and pre-monsoon (March through May). The hotel in the upper Langtang Valley where Kamal is working is only 60km as the crow flies from Kathmandu, but it is a full 8 hours of arduous bus-travel followed by 3 days of uphill trail hiking to get there. There is no mobile phone reception in the upper valley, and so while Kamal is earning his year’s worth of income during these past 2 months, he has not been able to keep in touch.
But that all changed last week when we had the “holy trinity” of surprises, allowing us to reconnect in a small way, as power outages allow: an email, a phone call and a Skype video call!
Suprise #1: A Rare Email with Photos
While Len and I were in Kelowna sharing our Jackets for Jasper story at the Building Sustainable Communities conference, we received a rare email from Kamal, chock full of photos!! What a treat! It is important to note how unusual and difficult this is for Kamal to achieve: he does not know how to read or write any English and we don’t read or write any Nepali; he does not have a camera (but does now have a mobile phone with a camera on it); he does not have a computer… in fact, he lives 3 days’ walk from anyone who has a computer and internet access! So it was a wonderful treat indeed to receive a dozen photographs of Kamal, his wife Nanu and his son Jasper! Combining them with photos we received from friends who travelled to Nepal and met the family one year ago, we’ve been able to see Jasper grow from an infant to a toddler.
Surp rise #2: A Phone Call
Out of the blue, while entertaining houseguests at our place, a late-night phone call. That could only mean one thing: Nepal calling! It was Kamal, accompanied by a squeaky Jasper, calling while on a visit to Kathmandu to spend time with his family and look after Nanu who had been sick. Back in mobile phone reception, Kamal took the opportunity to call. We got to hear Jasper’s little tiny voice over the phone, and so did our house guests! We tried to set up a time to talk via Skype the next night, so we could see Jasper “in person”.
The Skype call was foiled 3 times over the course of this past week with random, lengthy power outages and internet connection fails. Such is life in Nepal.
Surprise #3: Skype Video Call
Tonight, after several earlier failed attempts last night and a few nights before… success! Kamal and Jasper went to Rajan’s little factory and the three of them successfully Skype video called us! We had about 4 minutes, 3 of which were spent saying “can you hear me? Can you hear me now?”. But we had one wonderful minute seeing Kamal with little Jasper on the screen. Jasper promptly began to cry. And then… the power went out. A few text messages with Rajan (he can read and write in English) to try set up another call two nights from now, but for tonight, we had one precious little glimpse of one of the two children who were the catalysts for all this fundraising and work.
And so, off we go to sleep with nice thoughts of our friends halfway around the world and anticipation of the stars aligning one more time, two nights from now, to let us all communicate with one another again.