The month of October is always a great month for me. The reason is because my birthday lands on October 1st. Here in Nepal October is probably one of the most important and most anticipated months of the year. This is because of Dashain and Diwali (Festival of Lights) festivals, which usually start around the end of September and finish around the end of October. They are two of the biggest holidays of Nepal.
Dashain festival is also known for it's emphasis on the family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. A lot of kids from Papa's house leave Kathmandu and head back to their villages to be with family. Some of them traveling two days by bus and then hiking a few days up to the remote villages. It is the longest festival of the country and is also the most anticipated. Flying kites is a very important part of Dashain. It is one way of reminding the gods not to send rain anymore. You can see kids all over Kathmandu on roof tops flying their kites as high as possible. Another way of telling that Dashain has started is the construction of bamboo swings made around Nepal. Kids and grownups all enjoy the swings and we were lucky enough to have one constructed right outside our house. After Dashain is Diwali also known as Tihar or even the "Festival of Lights".
Diwali is like Christmas and a little bit of the 4th of July put together. People put out "Christmas" lights and light fire crackers hoping to scare the demons away. During this holiday houses are cleaned and then at night people light candles in little clay pots. The candles light a path into their home in hopes that the goddess Lakshmi comes and feels welcomed and blesses the house.
During this month since most the kids are gone the ones who haven't or have no where to go stay at Papa's House. A camp was constructed for the kids where they could sign up for classes that they wanted to take. Some of the classes included Art, Drama, Sewing, Math, Dance, Computer, and my favorite Basketball.
I taught basketball and that was at 7:50am every day. I showed them some dribbling, passing, and simple basics of basketball. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time they just wanted to play a game and have fun. I think I was even called "boring" at one point.
Also during the first two weeks of the holiday I was dog sitting. Each house the kids live in has a dog. The boys were all leaving so I was asked to watch their dog Bruno. Bruno was a sweet dog, but at times was annoying. I would take him for walks down in the rice fields behind Dhapasi and I'm pretty sure he loved it. Finally the boys house manager came back and I relieved of my job.
I even got to leave the valley for a night this past month. All the volunteers that were in the house, Vinod and I decided to go rafting. We left the house early in the morning and made it to the river by mid day. It was a beautiful day to be out of the valley and I enjoyed every minute of it. The rapids were class 2-3 and it felt good to be out on the water. We rafted down to a camp that had been provided for us in the package. We relaxed on the beach, played in the river/pool, and ended the day sitting around the camp fire before heading to our tents. The next day we headed back the valley.