Three Stories from Nepal and India

How I Stretched Out My Stay at Mendies Haven

Mendies Haven — that’s the name of the foster home in Kathmandu. More than 50 years ago, a young Canadian woman named Elizabeth was asked to serve a Christian mission in India. She sacrificed much and did remarkable service, including some time working with Mother Teresa in Kolkata. While in India she met a young man named Tom Mendies, a descendant of traders from Western Europe. He had been invited by the king of Nepal to set up one of the first hotels in the country, which until that time had been closed to all foreigners, and being much in love they married quickly and moved to Kathmandu. But though she left her work, Elizabeth soon found a new way to serve. She noticed dozens of children on the streets working or begging, kids who had either been orphaned or abandoned by parents too poor to take care of them. First she began taking them into her home for a few days. Before long she and Tom had adopted ten of the children for whom they could find no other home. They then decided that they couldn’t adopt more children, but they continued taking them in and created a foster home. The kids called her Mummy Mendies; the home was called Mendies Haven.

Most of the current Mendies Haven kids (and me)
Mendies Haven at evening

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love India

When I arrived in New Delhi, India, I was sick — the normal stomach sickness derived from traveling in a developing country. I stepped off the plane and asked a taxi driver to take me to a travel agency so I could book a hotel for that night. The fast-talking travel agent, taking advantage of my tiredness and lack of familiarity with India, convinced me to book a 6-day package through various cities before the meditation retreat I attended. Within a day or two I learned that he had charged me several hundred dollars more than necessary for the trip. In those 6 days, I was overwhelmed by the poverty I saw everywhere. Then I flunked the meditation retreat.

Varanasi
Morning boat tour with Christina

How I Became Infamous in a Himalayan Village

When I took to the Himalayas in January, I had been told it would be cold. Nepal is in the northern hemisphere, so it’s winter here. But I hadn’t really processed the fact that Kathmandu is farther south than Orlando, FL. Hiking during the day, even on cloudy days, required no more than a light sweater. And nighttime, while it sometimes got below freezing, was never unbearable with a good sleeping bag.

A sunrise view from the hill above Ghorepani

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Abe Collier

Abe Collier

“I do not understand one thing in this world. Not one.” — Marilynne Robinson, ‘Gilead’