Being in the South East Asia I had been looking for a meditation course of Vipassana of which I'd heard of travelers. I tried to apply for the due courses in Cambodia and Thailand but got a confirmation of one course only and it was late for me - I had already felt that I spent enough time there and I need to move on. I got a place in Nepal quite easily and it contributed to the reasons to take a flight here.

What I actually heard and expected of Vipassana? Only some fragmentary information, mostly from the travelers. To some of them it was a chance to live ten days for free in an exotic country and experience something new - 'Goenka trip' as it was said in the course by himself. I don't know if Goenka had known that Vipassana would become popular with this type of travelers but he hit the point. Feel, listen and understand myself from inside maybe. I hadn't actually read carefully neither through the rules nor what it exactly was. Everything by surprise. This way is, of course, always much more interesting but..

To those who never heard of Vipassana, this is a meditation technique by which they say Gautama Buddha became enlightened. To those who is not looking for meditating under a tree for years and enlightenment it is rather a psychotherapy to get rid of miseries and suffering and find happiness. I came to Vipassana with a feeling of happiness - I was mostly happy throughput my journey and especially on those day just before the course friends in Kathmandu gave me this feeling. They got up at 4 in the morning to give me a call and wake me up, then came to arrange with a bus driver a place for me - bus driver was personally in charge of me before them to look that nobody would cheat me with the prices on the way and that I get off the bus exactly on the junction in Chitwan where I needed to go.

But one is to read the rules and timetable of the day and another experience it myself. Five vows for new students, not so difficult for me. I rather prefer silence to senseless talks. More difficult is to avoid any eye contact - I like to look people in the eyes. Abstain from killing and eating meat - even interesting to try to be a vegetarian for ten days. I wouldn't try it in the West where many do it because of diet or just to show off that they are concerned about animals. Here it is natural, vegetarianism comes from here. Getting up at 4 by bell and artificial light and hold through 12 hours of meditation untill 9:30 in the evening was difficult. The whole daily routine was difficult, it was a torture for my body and brain. To sit still for two, three and even four hours without moving with only short five-minutes breaks every one and half or two hours and trying to get rid of all of the thoughts and concentrating only on breathing in the beginning or sensations throughout the body later. I had thought before that I was patient, but all I could manage to sit in one posture still without moving was, perhaps, forty five minutes.

Altogether, I sacrificed one of the most precious things that I had - my freedom without knowing exactly for what. But altogether, everything as I like it - refuse something by my own will in order to get more. I even experienced one of the most strict courses - we were only six students, after three days five only. And for us three 'wardens' and a teacher. It was not possible to miss any of the 'sittings', not possible to sleep during them. In those three times that I managed to escape from group sittings into my 'residence' I was checked there if I where sleeping.

First three days all my body and mind were protesting against pain and boredom. Ignore everything - thoughts and itches and scratches throughout the body, I felt like sitting on the frying pan. On the fourth day one more vow - three times a day during one hour sitting not to move at all and not to open legs. I didn't keep this vow even a single time, it was very difficult for me due to the pain in my back - 'Homo Computicus' spending most of the time in my normal life in the office in front of the screen. Only in the last days this pain disappeared.

Actually this Vipassana course is a perfect opportunity to try a life monk for ten days without shaving head. But this realization came to me only during short breaks when I ate my meal and enjoyed simple things - sun, nature, walking and absence of all communication means, not only mobile phone which many never leave from hand but even talking. This forces your mind to be in present moment - right here and right now, no past and no future which exist in our minds only. Only one reality - breathing and sensations.

I was sceptic about the teaching itself and the way it was taught. Too much for me of praising this technique as only one right, free of religious contents but with singing of mantras 'for good vibrations', endless repeating of 'Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu' and examples targeted at Indian housewives - Where am I?! 'Real happiness, real harmony, real peace'. Nevertheless, there were many genius ideas. Some of them I had already realised. Through my own bitter experience, though.

I was concentrated 70% of the time at most, neither sure nor convinced fully. I was not supposed to allow my thoughts to take over my mind but I probably went through every day and detail of my journey, remembered all my girlfriends and all my relationships, whole life. I was supposed to stay completely calm during these ten days without any positive emotions or creating aversions. But I experienced something that confused, surprised and excited me. I was in this condition four times. First time even before the instructions of the teacher, when I already developed my senses to feel not only sensations on the skin but inner organs, being bored I started to 'go inside' and felt my nose inside probably deep to the brain. It could have helped me more if I had studied anatomy to know what part reacted on my 'ping'. Second time I felt pulsation of the blood throughout my body, in every single vein, capillary and organ wherever I 'looked'. And at some moment I like 'tuned' all my body to this frequency, started resonate with it.

Third time was Amit, one of the fellow participants. I will write about him separately- never had I met anyone with such clarity of mind. He explained me a lot on the last evening when we were allowed to speak. He explained me many things of Vipassana, better for me than Goenka with his language and jokes for Indian housewives, using my language, language of physics and engineers. Although, he was not an engineer, he had deep knowledge of physics, architecture, philosophy and could easily go from universal to particular. And after conversations with Amit sitting in the last mediation sessions I practically believed in what I experienced - 'believe only in what you feel yourself, not in someone dogmas and axioms'. I even understood Goenka with his way of explaining, actually it was simple but genius. And I felt it myself and believed in it.

My very first entry. About one month before beginning of my journey

I wrote the very first entry into my diary about one month before the beginning of my journey. I went to the Alps with my close friends and my head was overwhelmed with the feelings of those moments that one can experience only in the mountains - freedom and simplicity of communication with friends. Mountains are a place where silence says much more than words, a place where you cannot bring along a lot of routine and daily life. And through this simplicity you start to feel the moment and share simple but essential things. I was thrilled by thinking of coming year of adventures, of pure emotions through rejection of comfort. I was thinking of my close friends with whom I became far by time and thousands of kilometers. Memories of the years of my studies were going through my head, of years when we had little but shared it. In those moments I wanted to call brother those with whom I shared this time..

For me back then this journey was not about seeing the world - I traveled a lot even without taking long break for it. However, I felt that in those my travels I was not getting deep enough neither into cultures and people nor into myself. I first got this alluring feeling of freedom, feeling that I was missing something pursuing my professional development only in Hong Kong year before big journey. I was hesitating in front of the check-in counter for my flight back to Frankfurt just five minutes before it was going to close and I was seriously thinking of missing the flight back. I grasped the first feeling of adventures and freedom back then while getting illegally to the rooftops of skyscrapers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Guangzhou. I thought of hitchhiking then, of Nepal - this idea brought to my friend and me a Nepali girl with the name Ambika in a bar in Hong Kong. This ideas didn't leave my head on the long flight where I got completely drunk and sobered up two times and after. I asked my friend with whom we were traveling to wait for me - he was free at that time already, quit his job and roamed around China. I decided to save up money, settle all questions and hit the road in one year. There was a lot of questions to settle - my work, my recently started distant study at London School of Economics, how not to lose my acquired residence permit in Germany and most important how to explain my decision to the parents. Over this year my friend and I were dreaming together of the coming time, we skyped often and shared our ideas. Surprisingly, I managed to put on hold most of my previous life - my boss understood me and gave me a year off, I even didn't give up my cosy apartment in the center of Frankfurt, just rented it out. With my parents it was more difficult, but I prepared them gradually - by recommending adventures books that fascinated me, by telling stories of my couchsurfers - just strangers who lived in my apartment on their crazy journeys. I didn't uncover all details of my plan on how we are going to travel and where to live - it would have made them worried too much. I told them about hitchhiking only after we made it several thousands of kilometers to the capital of Mongolia.

Slowly everything was settled and solved and I just lived last days of my usual life. My colleagues gave me a present - an 'emergency box' where they put with their wishes everything from small camping equipment to first aid kit, friends invited themselves for an unexpected night party on the roof of my apartment (a month after I received a warning from landlord for this:) They all gave me most important farewell present - the feeling that I was actually leaving behind a lot there in Germany.


An evening before the catastrophe that struck Nepal I was pissed off and wanted desperately to return to Kathmandu. Couple of days before we had gone to the Far Western development region to pick up the bike - 500 cc Royal Enfield Bullet. It was supposed to be fun to have an own bike for our full disposal for time I am here. But it went exactly opposite - the documents of the bike were at Indian border police, bribe sent to them didn't help and I was feeling that I was wasting my time again. It needs to be said that in Nepal everything is done in a different way. You cannot just solve a problem directly and easily as you may think - for any question there is a bunch of friends and contacts which can settle anything. However, these meetings with them and talks seem to be endless. Just different dimension of time - either you get used to it and become one of them or you will be always stressed off dealing with Nepali. Not to mention that as a foreigner I understand only very little what is going on and what these endless talks are about.
So that time I felt it was enough for me - I wanted to return to Kathmandu at once no matter that it takes 18 hours on the local buses. I thought I am in the land of Himalaya and I haven't even been to the mountains. I wanted to go back to Kathmandu, take my tent and stuff and go to the mountains alone. And see after if anything changes.
I said to the brother: "I am not gonna waste my time anymore. Please take me to the bus park, right now, I am going to Kathmandu, with you or without. I don't believe that the problem with the documents will be solved in any observable time, I don't believe that there will be a car to pick us up from here today or tomorrow." We took the same Bullet without documents but he didn't go to bus park - I didn't know where it was anyway. Two hours on that bike at 250 km/h on Nepali roads full of buses, bikes, bicycles and cows - I made stress that day and asked to speed things up and I got it:) Then we changed for the car that was on the way to pick us up. Night in this car without sleeping and next day we arrived but not in Kathmandu. Brother took me to the family in Chitwan.

The first earthquake happened while I was sleeping. I had covered my head from daylight and noise with several pillows but woke up immediately. It was very strong - the house was shaking and groaning, dishes were falling down from the cabinets. Earthquake shook Chitwan with the high magnitude of 7,8 M. It is a relatively flat area with the surrounding hills and snowy mountains seen on the horizon only when the sky is very clear.

Perhaps, this has saved this place from severe damages and casualties. We spent several days running outside the house every couple of hours. But we believed in our house and brother and I slept inside all nights. It has stood the most severe first shake, no next was that strong. Gradually you even get used to the shakes when they happen continuously and don't run outside fast anymore. Now I don't wake up in the night when it shakes unless it is a strong shake.

I had been running to Kathmandu wishing for any action with a visible result and I got stuck again, only this time there was nowhere more to run and all plans were destroyed. The news coming from Kathmandu valley, Gorkha and Sindupalchowk from TV and friends there were heartbreaking. I felt that I am again waisting time. Of course, I wouldn't make any big impact being in Kathmandu, but I couldn't watch anymore news on the TV from the wounded heart of Kathmandu which I had so many memories of. On the evening of the second day I talked to brother: "Your place is here to protect mother and sister but I should go and volunteer there" However, at that time I couldn't find any information of any of many clubs and organization in Nepal that were acting and helping. What I saw on the news and heard were people themselves, unorganized, looking for survived in the chaos. Brother said to me: "Of course, you can go, you can do it for your own conscience. Only think, that just volunteering there you can help few people. But from here where nothing is destroyed we can organize much more and help many"

That was beginning of our non-profit organizations. The name we chose for it is Ma Maa Nepal Org. or NEPALI BY HEART in English.

After that were many days and sleepless nights full of thoughts and organizational issues. We have talked to many people here and from affected areas. Many of them offered their help immediately and joined us without any hesitation. We've been doing everything on our laps rushing and we've been learning by doing. How to register a non-profit organization, how to attract funds and make our work visible on the internet, all the tricks how to bargain and negotiate for smaller prices, how to organize transport and how to deal with the government that so far only creates obstacles for our work. We believe, people that joined us are ready for this - this organization will be not only for immediate relief after catastrophe in Nepal. We will be making sustainable help over coming years for those who are in need.

The idea of making something good for people, idea of serving people has been with me since long time ago. It has started with a family from Pakistan, that stayed in my apartment for a couple of days over AirBnB. I was listening to their story back then one year ago, how they told me that this a special feeling of fulfillment, happiness when you serve people. They were different - they winced from a sudden sound of shutting window and told that they always leave in 'alert mode'. And their story inspired me. I was looking for an opportunity to be of any help while I was recovering after accident in Vietnam and wasn't able to move forward by bicycle. I limped to a school in a small town where I was staying and asked if they need a volunteer for English. I also met a group of teachers in a restaurant celebrating. But all they could offer to me was a teacher but as a wife:)) I was asking the same in the rural Laos. I helped a little build a buddhist temple in the village Na In, however, I couldn't stay there long because of visa and time limitations. I got the opportunity which I was looking for in Cambodia where on the way I met a teacher of English that works in a public school and also has got his own English school at home. I helped there as much as I could and tried make it sustainable by establishing the flow of volunteers after me. And now I got the real opportunity to try myself in this field by doing my best to help people in the real need. This is one of the points why I believe my journey become round here why I got to the very roots.

We are operating now on the funds that my friends and colleagues sent from all over the world. You sent it personally to me and it means a lot to me - you believe in me, you trust me. We haven't spent any rupee for registration or any other organizational needs from that money- all goes into buying tents, water and food - immediate needs of people in affected areas. All funds for creating NEPALI BY HEART are from our pockets. It means a lot to me to have friends everywhere in this world and know that you can support me in a difficult situation. You are also Nepali by your Hearts!

First days in Nepal

I knew not much about Nepal when I came here. Later I heard a saying that first time you come to Nepal for mountains, second time return because of people. For me it became about people long before I went to the mountains. Actually, I haven't even made it so far to the mountains, all I've been to so far are hills in Nepali standards. Only rocky and snowy mountains without any forest are the only real mountains here. Poon Hill, 3190m, the highest that I've been to still counts here as a hill, not mountain.

My first feeling about this part of the world was excitement and some confusion at the same time. I stayed long enough in the South-East Asia. I don't mean to say that I understood it there completely, but I made my impression of those places, I learned necessary short vocabulary to survive in China, Vietnam, Laos and through Lao I could also manage not to get lost and not to starve in Thailand. Together with English I could manage there and I was feeling safe and comfortable everywhere there. Nepal was something completely new to me. I sat on the plane from Kuala-Lumpur where I had a stopover and I was surrounded by Indian looking men, at least it occurred to me so back then. I was the only one wearing shorts and slippers, all people wore warmer cloths. The plane flew over India at night, I watched Kolkata from above - something huge, a new world for me, and I was thrilled and excited what expects me in Kathmandu.

I arrived late in the night. It was cold and rainy. I didn't have the address of my host from Couchsurfing - I hadn't received his address while I was in Bangkok and thought that I will find wifi somewhere on the way and check it. It turned out that it is not so easy - not only with wifi but even with electricity - the whole country is suffering from load sharing. Some hours electricity is in some districts, some time in another. I took a taxi from the airport to the city - no much options left at night time. Destination - wifi:) We were driving around the touristic quarter Thamel but all without success, when driver said: "You know, it's late, you go with me and sleep in my room" I've came across hospitality many times but never from a taxi driver. I am not a tourist but still it is difficult to get over people's perception of me as a tourist. I understand this - to many I am still a 'white Mister' just because I look different, I don't speak local languages and living standards in these countries are much lower. I am traveling, I have camera and smartphone with me - all these create an image of a rich man.

This taxi driver Changwa made my very first impression of Nepali people.

Next day I finally found wifi, enjoyed sun after cold weather and rain, walked a little around the center of Kathmandu while waiting for my host from Couchsurfing.

In the evening we met and he hugged me very tightly. We went to his room and he said: "Welcome to the palace of Dinesh!" It was a little messy, the window was broken but I felt like I'm in the palace!

Dinesh is a unique person, I don't know how one can have so much kindness and goodness inside! Very busy - he spends all his free time in Leo Club. Recently Dinesh was elected as a district president of Leo Club in Kathmandu and quit his job of software developer to dedicate all his time to serving people.

On the next day Dinesh made a little surprise for me - he took me with him for a Leo meeting to Nagarkot. I couldn't understand a lot there but I enjoyed breathtaking views of Himalaya from the hills.

People were having picnics on the top of the hills, dancing freely. Happy time for me and for those people, I will remember it especially thinking of it now, when these places are ruined by the earthquake..

In the evening we went down from the hills to Bhaktapur, the city in the Kathmandu valley.
I didn't plan to stay there overnight but couldn't resist the charm and magic of the old town. Friend of Dinesh, Sajan just offered me easily - why go back to Kathmandu, tonight is only now. I stayed and enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of Siena in Italy, the city was so alive keeping the traditions of the old times!

We went to his house, he introduced me to his family, we were talking, drinking local alcohol.. Guest is a god they say here. I've promised Sajan to return to Bhaktapur and stay there longer - I really want it myself, but I'm afraid to come to Bhaktapur now and see only ruins..

These few days spent among the new friends made me happy. I understood throughout my travel that I am not looking for beautiful places, cities, even nature doesn't amaze me so much as people I meet. They are all unique, successful in what they do, they inspire me! Here in Nepal I've came across incredible hospitality, culture of sharing - the slogan of my employer Deutsche Telekom 'Life is for sharing' has been with me always on this journey. Here they share everything apart from underwear and wives! But there is even much more than just this!

Reality is for those who are not strong enough to confront their dreams


My name is Konstantin, I'm a Russian guy who lived and worked in Germany for one of the world's biggest telecommunication providers Deutsche Telekom before hitting the road for one year long adventures. My fortune has brought me to Nepal and I believe that this country has not only become my last stop on this journey but a part of me, I became Nepali by my Heart!

I was seeking changes - changes in my surroundings and changes in myself. During this journey I opened my mind, overcame many of my fears. I climbed mountains, rooftops of the skyscrapers illegally, I hitchhiked where it was prohibited, I rode my bicycle for months and thousands of kilometers. I tried what I'm capable of both physically and mentally. I challenged my patience and my will and I proved to myself that my mind and body CAN do. I faced my loneliness, not as back there being in my comfort zone but being alone in remote places where I could rely only on myself. It was in my fortune to get into the accident with a motorbike on my bicycle and move forward no matter what - these all made me stronger and helped me realize a lot. I feel deep inside that my fortune has brought me here through all of the obstacles, through thousands of kilometers, mountains and hard times for some purpose.

I knew nothing where I was going, what awaits me in Nepal. I expected nothing and it has shifted my expectations by far! Starting from the very first day it hasn't been leaving me. Here I found everything that I was looking for and even more - I found wholehearted people that treat a guest like god - no thanks and sorry needed! I found friends that are ready to do anything and everything for me without questioning Why? I found deep spirituality and philosophers among ordinary people. I found answers and I am facing deepest changes to my personality - they say here that your heart is your mind and your mind is your heart and I start to think here with my heart and feel with my head. I go here beyond my usual mind pattern, beyond my limits. I found a soul brother here, a real brother! It is amazing to have Nepali friends but it is just cannot be described what is it to have Nepali brother! When I came to his home, to my home now, and bowed my head to the feet of his mother, she said: "Now I have two sons" and now I have two mothers, new brother and a sister. Two families - in Russia and Nepal. Two brothers from different mothers:)

My journey became round here, I returned to the very root reasons why I went on this journey. But my story is just beginning. Some things can not be put into words but I will be writing here my story - from now on and backwards about my way to Nepal.