On Friends In Nepal, and Heartbreak from Afar

About a year ago, I got a friend request from a stranger. His name was Aasis, and he was from Nepal, and he looked familiar. I’d just gotten done with a prolonged conversation with some work colleagues who were based in Thailand but lived all over the world, and at first assumed that this stranger was one of them. When I realized that wasn’t the case, I sent his profile picture around to friends from Boston, thinking I’d met him in the dance community, but no one recognized him. A month after we’d become Facebook friends, I messaged him, and asked how we’d met.
The answer was that we hadn’t. He had thought that I had requested him, and I thought the opposite.

Eventually we decided that perhaps he’d seen one of my posts on a blog we had in common, or had been trying to ‘follow’ my page. Maybe that’s the case. Maybe it was one of those weird facebook flukes. Maybe it was just one of those weird things that just happens. To me. A lot.

Although Aasis is from Nepal, he lived at the time in Saudi Arabia, and so he became friends with my friends who grew up in Saudi.. and we both like big dogs, and children, and learning about other cultures.. and eventually we found that bitching about your work is universal, and knows no boundaries. Our introduction turned in to conversation, and our conversations prompted a friendship.

I sent pictures of my home, and my town, and in turn Aasis told me about Nepal and his family. Nepal, and Everest, have been in my heart my whole life, for no other reason than I was named for Sir Edmund Hillary and have always thought it one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until I met Aasis, I knew no one there.

On April 25th, I woke up to find that Nepal had been brought to it’s knees by a devastating quake. I sat in my bed, laptop open, sloshing coffee on the covers as I sobbed. There weren’t even any images out yet, not really, but I could see the devastation in my minds eye, and I grieved for a place that I will never get to see: Nepal before the earthquake is now extinct, in the same way as New Orleans before the flood, as Chernobyl before the meltdown, as the communities of the Indian Ocean before the tsunami.

I messaged Aasis, first thing. Was his family safe? Where was his home village located again? Could he get in touch with them from his home in Saudi? Was there anything I could do to help? It took hours for him to respond, and his answer stopped my heart.

“Hilary I’m at Nepal at this time
For vacation
I’m with them and all of us are good”
My brain skipped back and forth as I read his words. Aasis was in Nepal? Not Saudi? A chill went through me as I realized how much more danger he could have been in than I had even realized, and then a sigh as I comprehended he was safe, as was his family.
Our connection was broken a few times, but we talked that night, and again a few days later, about his home. At first he hoped to travel to Kathmandu, to help with the relief efforts, but it soon became apparent that there would be no point. There is not enough resources for those already in the main city. There is enough to be done where he is.
The night before last, I sent Aasis a message. I hoped to distract him with some stories of my life, and spring in New England. He replied with love, wishing the best for my sons birthday, for our town, for our lives. He told me how it is for him now, where he is.
I’ve excerpted a bit:
” it’s hot like temperature 35 afternoon due to warm winds it’s gonna be all body will be sweating and need to bath two times a days and last disaster of earth quick, building are cracked and still death body inside it’s very hard to remove, all the death Body has been smelling. All the force are trying to remove and clear all the demolished building and they are working 24 hours. Peoples are facing huge problems and they don’t have food and water, tent as well.”

“Finally, pass my warm love to your sons and happy birth day to him. God may always bless to him to show genuine path. Be happy and be safe, be healthy. Aasis”

From a random friend request to a beautiful friend who provides eyes and ears in a place I love though I’ve never been… I’m so glad I’ve met you,Aasis.

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