While cycling in India and Nepal we have come across a very beautiful tradition.
It all started in a small village in India where we cycled past a gigantic facade of a palace made out of straw.
We were cycling towards a big rocky hill to climb on foot to a viewpoint, but this facade deserved a break.
In India, crowds are forming in seconds even when we stop in the middle of nowhere.
Soon the young creators of the facade joined us as well as other villagers.
It was made for a special celebration and they worked on it for months.
I had a hand and feet conversation with a very funny and loving woman (since I don’t speak Hindi). She invited us to her home to have tea.
We ate a speciality: little apples, sour and almost alcoholic because they are way past ripe.
After a really nice chat they really wanted to give us something. We both got a scarf as a thank you for being there and as a blessing.

It is a tradition to give a scarf to show your appreciation. These scarves represent the area or the community they live in.

On the bicycle again, we regretted that we didn’t stay longer, but it also didn’t feel right to go back again after this big goodbye ceremony. ‘you’ll see, you never know what is waiting ahead of us’, said Kiran. And he was sooo right!
Close to the rocky hill we were going to climb, two men on a motorbike pointed with their finger: there, big celebration, 75 years jubilee of their community, please come!
And who are we to refuse 😛
The party crowd was huge and existed mainly of people that had never seen a foreigner before, and surely not a white one!!
Everyone wanted to look at us. Within 10 minutes they made sure we had tea, water, a tour, about 50 selfies and.. of course a scarf!!

We did not want to miss the big celebration in the evening but did not know where to stay, till one man invited us to stay in his family house ❤️ He was also very keen on being our guide to climb to the top of the hill!

While climbing up the hill, a group of students was coming down the hill and they reeeally wanted a picture with us, no problem right, a few more pictures 🙂 And as a welcome gift they gave us another scarf!!
Up the hill we went with 3 scarves around our necks, the view on the hill was amazing! While chilling out on the viewpoint aka ‘selfie rock’ , our host also filmed us for fun while asking us questions.

A crowd had formed when we were back down at our bicycles. They wanted to show their appreciation for our visit..with a scarf!
You can’t possibly say no to such a personal gift, even though you have so many scarves already.
Everywhere we tend not to buy stuff unless it is really necessary to avoid more weight to carry on the bike. Now we saw the kilo’s of fabric grow by the hour!

The party in the evening was super colourful with singers just a tiny bit better then Kiran.
We had a talk with a very exited boy from the village. At some point he ran away to come back with a gift for us: an embroidered handkerchief. So sweet!

My white skin was a huge attraction, first people asked for a selfie and you say yes, because you understand it is special for them, and sharing their party with us means a lot to us. A photo is a small thing you can do back, right?
But many pulled at us as if we were an object and after hundreds of pictures, with at least 200 people I got a bit mental. Asking ‘please no selfie’, didn’t help, holding my hand in front of my face neither and shouting NO gave me even more camera attention. It was time to run to a safe place.
A guy told us we could sit in the VIP room, he would keep an eye on the crowd. Grateful we sat down, till the guy was bringing in the selfie people one by one!! I don’t think he got the point totally, haha.
Luckily our host came to save us and take us home. At his home we had another surprise coming: he had send the little movie he shot from us on the hill, to a TV channel and now we were on the local news! Funny!
The family was so nice to us, giving us their bedroom to sleep in, making us food and tea and of course, another scarf just before leaving.
24 hours : 5 scarves!

Some people count their blessings, well, we count our scarves!

Here some other beautiful moments we had with people in India and in Nepal where we were given a scarf.

In Hajo, India, we got to hear from SP Sharma that that day they were going to have a special ceremony to celebrate Shivratri. They would end the ceremony by drinking bangh lassi, yogurt with weed and everyone would be dancing a going a bit crazy. He invited us to join, so no reason to say no 🙂 In the evening we went to the temple, the ceremony was fascinating and drinking the special lassi was a fun thing to do. We expected an enormous kick from it, but we were just a bit more cheerful and had a good night sleep. And.. we did again get a nice scarf !

We were passing by a holy place where the villagers were celebrating Shivratri. We were welcomed to eat with them and since we were the first foreigners that ever passed by, they liked to take a lot of photo’s. They gave us their blessing, a dot on our face, a few leaves behind our ear and a scarf!

When we were in Darjeeling in India, the parents of Kiran came to visit us (Amazing)! We met Lee and his wife Shukla in Kalimpong and they showed us around their neighbourhood, making us all feel very welcome and cared for! From them we also all got a scarf!

On our Annapurna Base Camp trek in the Himalaya in Nepal we met Kabi. He runs Friendly Trekkers company and on the way back to Pokhara he invited us to his family home to have a tasty Dal bhat(rice, veggies, dal, and side dishes, mmmm!) From them in the end we got a hat and a scarf!

Then a week later we went back to his village to stay with his family and to teach in the local primary school about plastic pollution. After our stay we got another scarf! We felt double blessed to meet Kabi’s family! 🙂