nepal local

All is well in Pepsicola

I knew the name of my new boss, and that he would send someone to pick me up from the airport.

It wasn’t until I was being jolted through the dirty backstreets of Kathmandu far from Thamel or any area typically inhabited by foreigners that I realised my naive underpreparedness.

I’d easily jumped into this stranger’s car and didn’t even think to find out where I was being taken - to my home stay? To the office? Where even was this place, and where was I being taken to? I could end up anywhere and not have a clue. I’d trusted in things “just working out” to the extent that I hadn’t even thought past getting my visa, and now I was literally being drawn into blank unchartered territories.

“The area is called Pepsicola”, my co-worker Bishmal explained from the rooftop of my home stay, which conveniently doubles as the HQ and office, “because there is a Pepsi factory nearby, so they named the area after it”.

Pepsicola, my home for the next few months … I’m going to giggle every time I use that name. I can’t find it named so on maps, but most tourist maps I’ve been looking at don’t even cover this little south east corner of the sprawling Kathmandu city.

A dusty football field marks the centre of Pepsicola, around which locals sell fresh fruits and fried meats in competition with their more settled neighbours in the shops and restaurants. There’s little traffic, and we wander down the middle of the bumpy road like it’s ours as I create a mental picture of my days here this spring: I’ll be re-working the website and creating a social media strategy for the NGO Volunteer Service Nepal (VSN), while developing new projects and visiting all of the existing ones around the Kathmandu Valley. I’ll be busy and creative, but most importantly I’ll be living and working in this little haven of Pepsicola.

Later in the evening I meet Bishmal again in “The Hut” - a local bar that seems to be the in place to hang out in Pepsicola. Young men dance with their arms out, pumping their shoulders up and down in rhythm to the live band that gives raucous renditions of Nepali and American classics. Some women in the corner imitate them for a joke, but sit down quickly when they become self-conscious.

I hadn’t thought about my upcoming time in Nepal enough to expect anything from it, I was completely unprepared. But now it feels like my experience here is exactly as it should be - I had no expectations that might have been unfulfilled, or nervous fears that had to be resolved. There’s no struggle against preconceived ideas, there’s only the beautiful reality that is appearing in front of me in each moment now.

In the dawn light I see the snow capped Himalayan range glow and then fade into haze as the morning begins. Sometimes, things really do just work out without too much thought.

Everything is as it should be, and all is well in Pepsicola.