In a 45- to 60-minute program, followed by a lively question-and-answer session, I offer an engaging first-hand glimpse, in words and colorful photos, of the people and the life in Nepal, both in the capital city of Kathmandu and in remote hill villages.

The presentation offers a look at the life of Kathmandu and then takes the audience for a virtual trek to Badel, a remote village in Nepal’s eastern hills, which I have visited on four different occasions since 1993, staying with local families. (I have made a total of seven trips to Nepal.) You meet a cross-section of the villagers, including the chief shaman, the midwife, and musicians from the “untouchable” caste. You learn how my friend and I, the first western women to visit the village, with minimal funds and effort, were able to establish the first library in the village. You hear how we arranged for cleft lip surgery for two children, each for less than the price of dinner for two in a moderately upscale New York restaurant. You also learn how we two mature women from a sophisticated society learned from people who live and work as they have for centuries in a hamlet with no electricity, no telephones, no modern sanitation. The book is graced by 50 of Margaret Roche’s impressionistic sketches of the villagers, some of which I show in my slides. And you’ll hear about the Maoist rebellion that is currently roiling the country, that required itinerary changes in my most recent visit to Nepal in October 2003, and that may mean that the way of life we witnessed will be changed forever.

This talk is for armchair explorers who want to experience exotic lands—from the excitement and chaos of Kathmandu to the serenity of isolated hamlets; for travelers who want to know more about the day-to-day lives of their sherpas and porters; and for all who seek inspiration from the spirituality of another culture.

click here for information about the book itself, A Balcony in Nepal: Glimpses of a Himalayan Village.

click here to see a review.