Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My first day in Nepal


What a great experience I had as I arrived in Nepal today.

My plane from Delhi, India was an hour late taking off and I knew it would create problems for my friends in Kathmandu, Nepal who were going to meet me at the airport.

In 2016 four of our board members from the Global Network attended a space conference in Visakhapatnam, India and then went onto to Kathmandu to speak at several colleges in that city.  (You can see a report on that amazing journey here.)

On our last night in Kathmandu we had dinner with a large group of professors who asked if they could create a Global Network chapter in Nepal.  We of course loved the idea and it was done.  Professor Shreedhar Gautam became the president of the chapter.  Since that time delegations from the chapter have tried to attend our annual meetings in Huntsville, Alabama and Oxford, England but could not get Visas.  But this past spring, when we organized our Russia Study Tour, four persons from the Nepal GN chapter made their way to Moscow and we embraced them as long lost family.

Since I was coming to India anyway, I suggested that after the space law conference was concluded there, I could pop up to Nepal and meet with our dear friends once again.

So early this morning I left Visakhapatnam, India and flew to Delhi and then changed planes for Kathmandu.  Our plane was not only delayed out of Delhi, but once I arrived in Kathmandu I was stuck in the Immigration/Customs area for two hours getting through that cumbersome process.  I knew that being over three hours beyond when I was to arrive would likely cause problems for Shreedhar who was going to meet me at the airport and take me to a hotel.

So once I finally got out of the airport of course there was no one there to pick me up.

I looked around for awhile and decided just to wait and see what happened.  A nice young taxi driver approached me and asked if there was anything he could do to help me.  I told him my situation - and also explained that I am one of the few people in today's techno world that refuses to use a cell phone.  He helped me get online on my laptop and I sent Shreedhar and email explaining the situation.

Next the cab driver went on his phone and did a search for Shreedhar that took some time but he finally found him and sent him a text.  But there was no response to either of us.  By now it was getting dark - I was tired and a bit hungry, which is not unusual for me.  So I decided I should just get a hotel room for the night and would keep working on making contact with Shreedhar.  So I asked the friendly taxi driver if he could take me to a decent, mid-priced hotel near the airport.  He of course said yes and drove me to a perfect place nearby.  He got me settled in and I asked him how much he wanted for his extraordinary services.  He said, "Just give me what you would like."  He obviously was not out to take advantage of me, he sincerely was trying to help me and on the way to the hotel he explained that one should be kind to tourists that come to their fair city.  I told him I thought he was a good man.  He smiled in return.

Well needless to say I was quite generous with him.  I got tucked into my room, a quite nice place for only $40 a night and ordered a well-deserve Nepalese beer and a mushroom pizza from room service.  Soon after the beer arrived there was a knock on the door.  It was the cab driver who had Shreedhar on his phone.  They had finally made contact.  He had returned to the hotel and handed me his cell phone.

Shreedhar wanted to come and pick me up and take me to the hotel he had booked for me but I said no, I'll stay here tonight and move to that hotel tomorrow.  He told me he has organized a gathering of his folks tomorrow night at the other hotel so we'd meet then.  He was sending our friend Prabhu Yadav to pick we up in the morning to escort me to the correct hotel.

When we came to Kathmandu in 2016 we made our first stop at one local university.  We were taken to a room with several professors.  The first thing they did was greet us with the words 'Namaste' which means “I bow to the divine in you".  It was clear that the college was not in the best condition and my western mind wondered about the capacity of such a challenged institution.  But as soon as the professors began speaking to us I realized that these people were on a spiritual dimension I rarely, if ever, see at much fancier 'higher educational institutions' in the United States.

So even though today had its obvious challenges - it turned out to be a deeply enriching experience for me.  So on my second trip to Nepal I am again confronted with a touching reminder that there is a world outside of the western way of being that still remains real and connected to things that matter in life - hospitality, friendship, honesty, spiritual connection and much more.

America might have alot of money, much nicer buildings, an enormous military budget and the like.  But what it lacks is something I have experienced in Kathmandu, Nepal - a richness of spirit that most Americans long to experience.

I am glad to be here and be touched by this place.

Amen.

Bruce

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