Friday, October 2, 2015

My Recent Travels' Journal


Helicopter Tour to Boulder Colorado. 

It’s been some time since I’ve made a blog post about myself, but to catch up, here are some bits and pieces:

In early April, Radhika, Zina and I went to Las Vegas, the glittering city of light! We stayed there for five nights without gambling (Well, Radhika played the nickel machines and broke even), but we took a helicopter tour all the way to Boulder Colorado. We flew over vast spaces below, with the pilot telling us how millions of years ago everything there was covered in water. The ride was one and a half hours long, and poor Radhika felt air sick, so with her eyes closed she didn’t get to see much of the view. The next day, we rented a car and drove about three/ four hours to see Cathedral Rock, nature’s big church. We thought it would be a bit more spectacular than it was, but it was interesting to look up into it, way up into the sky, the very opposite of what we saw looking down from the helicopter at the blue color of a huge dam down below. Cathedral Rock itself had the consistency of chalk to the touch. In Las Vegas, we also met my cousin Shanta Thokar, who was there for the karate tournament. We saw a little bit of him doing his refereeing for the matches. He didn’t know we were coming until I called him from the airport, so it was a bit of a surprise for him.  

At Cathedral Rock. Photo Credit: Zina Tamang

Soon after we returned to New York, on April 15th, Nepal was hit by the monster earthquake on April 25th, and all of our communities were plunged into sadness. Many Nepalese gathered in Jackson Heights to organize a candlelight vigil for thousands of people who died in earthquake and prayed for those who were affected. There was lots of news media presence, including Verena Dobnik of the Associated Press, who interviewed me and others in Queens about the earthquake and how we were affected. With almost 10,000 people dead and millions left homeless and devastated, everyone started fundraising efforts in whatever capacity they could, and I did the same. I arranged for American and Nepalese musical artists to come together for a fundraiser concert, Help Nepal Benefit Concert, at the Armenian Church in Manhattan on May 30th. The program was a great success in terms of turnout, with about 750 people in attendance, but it didn’t raise as much as I had expected. The operating and maintenance cost for the concert venue and securities fees for the event, all of those things took a bite out of the profits. With the concert profits and a few added donations, we managed to raise $12,000, and I am grateful to all those people who donated their time and talent to help raise these funds for Nepal Earthquake victims. 

Vigil for Nepal Earthquake Victims held at Jackson Heights. Photo Credit: Indra Tamang
At the end of July we travelled to Virginia, where we visited Luray Caverns, the largest cavern in the east coast. This was my third time visiting the cavern, and still I enjoyed the tour of the cavern. We stayed in Virginia for few days. On August 2nd, I had to be at the picnic organized by Tamang Society of America in Connecticut. We barely made it in time, driving all the way from Virginia, but we did make it enough to taste delicious bbq and have good time. 

Luray Cavern, Virginia. Photo credit: Indra Credit
The second week of August, Radhika, Zina and I visited Cancun, “The Nest of Snakes” in Mexico. Many years ago there was nothing but crocodiles and snakes living in that place, where the water is still beautiful and crystal clear. We spent a week there, and one day we took a three-hour bus ride to El Casttilo, Chichen Itza Kukulkan Pyramid. The pyramids was build by Mayans many centuries ago and has 365 steps, one step for each day of the year. It is considered to be one of the New7Wonders of the World. We wondered how those pyramids were built by people hundreds of years ago. The Mayans seem to have worshipped snakes and birds as we saw many sculptures of those creatures everywhere. The Mayans built the pyramids to last thousands of years and they’ve made a big source of income for the people living there today. Thousands of tourists come to see the pyramid every day. I asked a guide if it is always that crowded, and he said that October and April see a few less, but the rest of the months just see rivers of tourists. Mayans were also known for their calendar which predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012, but obviously nothing happened. 
El Casttilo, Chichen Itza Kukulkan Pyramid, Mexico. Photo Credit: Indra Tamang

On our way to pyramid trip, we had a stop for food. All of the restaurants served the wild jungle Habanero hot pepper also known as ghost pepper. There is a local legend that Mayan leaders fed the peppers to the invaders as a revenge. We tried the peppers at restaurants, and I liked it. I’m used to eating hot spicy foods, but even I could only eat a little because it was too hot.
Cancun, Mexico. Photo credit: Indra Tamang

One day we took a boat ride to Isla Mujeres, which I had heard Charles talk about many times. Zina and I took a zip-line ride on the island. We also went scuba diving and sat in the sun drinking margaritas and having lunch, everything included in our tourist package. We returned back to New York on August 15th. 

Last Saturday, September 27th, I attended a reception organized by various Nepalese communities of NY for the Nepalese delegation to 70th UN Assembly leaded by Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Prakash Man Singh. Radhika’s father, Chitra Kumar Lama, was an old friend of the Deputy’s, and they were members of the same political party. Therefore Radhika came up with idea of inviting the Deputy PM and his wife for dinner at our house. I agreed and we invited the couple for private dinner at our house on Tuesday evening. It was just a personal evening to celebrate the old friendship that the deputy had with Radhika’s father. Radhika, with her aunt’s help, cooked a delicious dinner and everyone felt happy for the occasion. It is always great privilege to have such a dignitary in our house. 

With Deputy Prime minister of Nepal and his wife at my residence. Photo Credit: Zina Tamang
Next week, I am making a trip to Nepal to see for myself how things are progressing and to check on my family. It will also give me chance to personally distribute the funds raised from the concert in May 30th. I will be very busy while I am there, no doubt, and my focus will be on helping rebuild damaged schools from the funds, since there is already effort being made to building houses for people displaced by the earthquake. I will hand the money we raised to trustworthy recipients, and I will report on that when I get back.  

I wish everyone a happy and healthy autumn.

Help Nepal Benefit Concert held at May 30th.

Indra Tamang

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