Out of sight out of mind!

This is not meant in terms of relationships, where it is either this or absence makes the heart grow fonder, and for me it is definitely the later, where as a solo traveler I find my heart yearning more and more for my family and friends, but I digress.

I found this thought running through my mind this morning visiting a local sight in one of the villages that make up Pokhara, the long suspension bridge.

Arriving after walking through narrow walkways with only one solitary sign indicating the direction, the last thing you would expect to find at the end of this concrete walkway, lined with the ever welcome open doors of simple homes, freshly swept daily of any dust and debris, glistening after the early morning shower, is one of the longest suspension bridges in Nepal. No grand entrance, it is just there.  As westerners, this a novelty, but to the locals it just forms part of everyday life.  A means of getting across the deep gorge, to work, to school, to visit friends, a playground for the young children of the village.

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Two inch steel cables bolted into the surrounding rock secures this swaying structure, adorned with tattered prayer flags, over a rock strewn valley, with a small winding river waiting for the soon to come monsoon season to swell its banks. Looking down at first you just see the beauty of the surrounds, but on looking just a little further up the sides of this gorge, jars me to the core.  The cliffs are not decorated with foliage and undergrowth but are feet deep in refuse, which when the rains do come, will be swept down into the river polluting the water supply flowing into the picturesque Fewa Lake in Pokahara (which is very inviting, but you dare not swim). There are signs all around the city warning if there is no lake, there is no lakeside and therefore no Pokhara, with pleas to protect the lake.

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I mentioned the cleanly swept doorways and entrances to all the homes, so the local populace takes pride in their personal homes, and with that a woman walks to the start of the bridge and calmly tosses a plastic bag full of household debris over the bridge onto the cliffs below, turns on her heel and returned to her immaculately swept home.  I am trying hard not to let this mar my experience.  Is this laziness, lack of education or out of sight out of mind? I am assuming this is lack of education and that she is oblivious to the fact that she is slowly destroying the environment she lives in.  If she can’t see the rubbish in her home, then it doesn’t exist.

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I walked away feeling really angry at the devil may care attitude she appeared to have, and there was nothing I could do about it.  It was not possible to call her out on this as I would have if I had been back at home.  On typing this now, I have managed to quiet my mind with the decision that for the rest of my time in Pokhara, I can only lead by example and try and teach the youngsters I have the privilege to interact with on a daily basis, some sort of understanding of what long lasting damage this behaviour can have on the country that the passionately love.  I will make sure that when I leave it will not be out of sight out of mind – I will do my best to make a difference.

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