Summers in Southern California inevitably eventuated into a trip to Disneyland each year. There was one and only one way for me to begin a visit, and to end a visit to the Magic Kingdom. The kooky tic-toc smile of It's a Small World lured me in time and again, and time and again and again, I was mesmerized by the sparkle and the color and the smiles of differences dancing as one.
When you begin your global dance at 21 years, by 43 you inevitably have your share of 'small world' stories. But today in the wake of the quake in Nepal, it is without coincidence that my best 'small world' story took place right there in the Kathmandu Valley, in the thick of what now can only be described as rubble.
In the last week, I've had several inquiries as to who-what-when-where-how-who regarding our relief efforts in Nepal. Here's the lo-down, the scoop, so-to-speak:
High in Kathmandu in March of '99, Greg and I were asked to scout an apartment for a family member of ours. In the end, the family member never came, but we were proud renter's of the most amazing lime green and purple decorated flat in all of Kathmandu. In fact, I literally matched the house with my ankle-length purple drawstring skirt and my lime green silk top, both tailored for me personally in Mysore, India. There was no doubt, this was our place.
Every morning our landlords, Bijay and Maiya, who lived on the third and top floor of the building, brought down piping hot chai for us. Love was in the air. Inevitably.
Their two daughters, Bini & Biva were teenage lights, so kindly inviting me to glimpse their culture-steeped world. I hardly realized my privilege. Excited though I was, still here was a 20-something-just-out-of-college-mall-store-owning-Japanese-speaking-Asian-backpacking-American girl. So for obvious reasons, I knew everything. As a matter of fact, I was nothing short of Hot Shit. I will never forget my young feminist opinions regarding some of the Newar cultural rituals. I was so wrong. Just. so. wrong.
So Mr. Disney, thank you with all my heart for inspiring me to find humility.
One early afternoon over afternoon chai, explaining that I am from California, Bini told me that her fiance was studying abroad in California. She could not remember where, but she was eager to check the next time he phoned. And so the story goes, that her fiance and now husband is Direk Shrestha, who was studying abroad at Santa Rosa Jr. College.
Two months later we met Direk in Santa Rosa and he helped us open the first Global Groove store in Santa Rosa Plaza. In the following years, both Bini and Biva came to study at SRJC, Direk and Bini graduated from Sonoma State University and all three helped us out in the SR plaza with Global Groove. Biva went on to graduate from a Uni in Australia, keeping up with the Global Groove tempo!
We are donating through Direk because: he got educated in the United States and went back to make his country a better place. Not everyone does that. His family runs the oldest Nepalese language newspaper, and reporting news in Nepal is not always safe (is it anywhere?) but it cultivates change. So RESPECT. He now owns the only alternative elementary school in Nepal. Teach them young. He went to Haiti to help with relief there. I'd be surprised if any other Nepali has that experience. I trust him. He loves his country more than I do and believe me, I love it a lot. He's family.
The universe conspires in mysterious ways. There is no doubt in my mind that this small -world story of mine, initiated so many years ago is for right now. This very minute. Being in the right place at the right time is a truth, a truth none of us can explain. I won't say it comes without doubt, but I will say I am in the right place. Right now. Today. And it truly is, for the greater good, “A Small World After All.”
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