Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” This very quest for knowledge has brought me to this beautiful city of Pokhara, a tourist city right in the foothills of the Himalayas. Pokhara is a growing city with people flocking in from the all over the country looking for better opportunities. While the natural beauty of the tall standing mountains as well as numerous lakes are the major attractions of the city, its people are equally diverse, and it is the economic hub for surrounding districts. This provides an excellent learning opportunity for anyone wanting to study the evolution of a growing city such as Pokhara.
I only moved to Pokhara a week ago, but I am already experiencing many differences from Kathmandu (my hometown, and the capital of Nepal). During my stay in Pokhara, I have set three goals to better understand this city as well as develop my own personal skills.
I have spent most of my life in Nepal. Well, actually, I have spent most of my life in Kathmandu. I have never had the chance to live outside of the capital, and most of my friends are from Kathmandu. So, I believe I have a very narrow understanding of Nepal. Moving to Pokhara will allow me to get outside of the capital and broaden my interaction with people from outside of Kathmandu. I hope to interact with as many locals as possible and explore their understanding of Nepal as well as what they think about the future of Pokhara.
During my stay at Pokhara, I am also volunteering to map the city using OpenStreetMap. I will be working part-time at Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), a leading institution for Open Data and Open Street Maps in Nepal. The devastating earthquake last year has taught us the importance of disaster preparedness, and maps are vital in preparing urban cities to cope with impending danger. We, along with the help of local community, will be mapping the city of Pokhara as well as teaching the locals on how to how to use it during disaster. In addition to learning about disaster preparedness, I also aim to learn about using maps and mapping to improve communities as well as the potential benefits private institutions could reap from it.
Nepal is a country gifted with natural beauty and cultural diversity, and Pokhara is in the center of it. I hope to make my 2015 (yes, 2015!) resolution of traveling and exploring Nepal true during my stay here in Pokhara. There are plentiful places within driving distance to explore during the weekends from Pokhara which are simply indescribable, both naturally and culturally. All in all, I hope to challenge myself further during this stay and learn from this exciting experience.