It is Wednesday, about 3pm, and the taxi drops me off at a flower-drenched bungalow of a home, a two-story L-shaped affair that you’d never know was a hotel except for a single hand-painted sign sighing in the mountain breeze.
After the dirt and noise and pollution of Kathmandu, Pokhara has already proven itself to be the peaceful, clean(er), spiritual ski lodge oasis I’d been promised by some random Australian guy in an Internet cafe.
If the quiet streets surrounding Pokhara’s main tourist area are a refuge from the big city, then the Harvest Moon is a veritable bunker of well-being: rich pink flowers and shiny green leaves rustle in the breeze, their lush offerings turning the second story abode into a protected jungle-garden.
No other hotel on the street looks anything like it, and I get the impression that it’s the flowers themselves that serve as a protective force-field against the noise of the world.
I’m welcomed by the owner’s son Kshitiz, a painfully shy student of 19, and am promptly offered a tour of the place with much smiling and nodding and “Namaste”-ing.
The first floor lobby is the family’s living room, which lies open to the street so the cool mountain air can mingle with the scent of ever-burning incense.
A rooftop patio offers views of the surrounding mountains – to the Southwest I can see the World Peace Pagoda, affectionately nicknamed “the stupa” by locals. It’s possible to see the rounded dome of the enormous structure atop a 1,000 meter hill, and I marvel at how it watches over the city like an amiable guard dog.
After the tour, which takes all of 2 minutes, Kshitiz carries my bag to a second story room that is pressed so far back from the street, it must be playing hide and seek with the rest of the town. The outdoor hallway leading to my door is so saturated with flora, it feels like a terrace one might walk down in order to meet a waiting groom.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of history, a 17th century librarian is missing the key to her traveling trunk. It is with this archaic, cartoonish-looking key that Kshitiz opens the door to my waiting room. And it is because of this very key and its portal-opening capabilities that I am suddenly breathless.
I don’t worry about tipping Kshitiz right now – I’ll have plenty of time for that during the next three weeks of my stay. I thank him and shut the door gently before I attempt to regain my breath.
Terrified that it’s all a mirage, I squeeze my eyes shut and slowly turn from the door to face the room once more.
I open my eyes and the room is still there, every molecule in place. As I realize that it’s not just a mirage, a squeal of delight escapes me, bouncing off the freshly painted walls like a flying squirrel. Kshitiz probably just heard the shriek but I don’t care – such a beautiful room deserves nothing less than a vocal celebration.
When you’re a digital nomad, the only thing more important than a strong WiFi signal is your room. The room is everything – it’s your office, your creative haven, the place where the magic happens.
If the room sucks, your work will suck. If your works sucks, you don’t eat.
I have to have somewhere quiet, somewhere I won’t be interrupted, and somewhere with a window. It need not be big, and it need not even have a bathroom, but it must be all mine and it must facilitate motivated concentration. If it can inspire with a brilliant view or sparkle with feel-good energy, all the better.
But this room…..this room is other-worldly.
There is an enormous double bed with a comforter neatly folded to one side, as is the custom in Nepal. A beautiful, dark wood bed frame hugs the mattress. It has built-in cubby holes, each with a lock and key to store valuables.
I notice sturdy locks on each of the windows, and another enormous bureau with additional lock and key – have they had many problems with theft? I find it difficult to imagine that a place as perfect as Pokhara could ever fall victim to any sort of crime, but I vow to stash my valuables whenever I leave the room, just in case.
I have my own en suite bathroom in Pepto-Bismol pink, and there is even a “work area” where I can write – two leather chairs are gathered around a small bureau, creating an ideal office space that lies smack dab between two – TWO! – sparkling windows.
What have I done to deserve this room?!
My “office window” faces south and looks out over the garden pathway and into the yard below. From here I can see the owner’s wife, Shova, bless the yard each morning with prayers and incense as she happily hums her “Hindi song.”
And then there is the window that faces northwest.
From where I sit at my makeshift desk, the northwest window serves as a picture-perfect frame of Fishtail Mountain – that same glorious vision that defines the landscape and feeling of Pokhara for all who journey here.
I can sit in the same spot all day, writing and working, and watch as each minute is measured by the various moods of this mountain beauty. I can tell which jacket I should wear based on how the clouds hang around her neck. I make plans for the day based on whether or not I can see the top of her head in the morning.
At each break, every interval, every moment of frustration or joy, I am always accompanied by her, always watched over.
My room is known by the family as the “writer’s room” as I’m eventually told by Hari, the owner of the guest house.
I could stay here all day. I could stay here forever.
This post is an excerpt from My Week With Deepak: A memoir of Nepal, available November1, 2014 from THP Publishing. To pre-order your copy, click here!
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1. The Harvest Moon Pokhara Guest House is an oasis of awesome in Pokhara, Nepal.
2. As a digital nomad I always look for 3 things in a hotel room: strong WiFi in the room, privacy/quiet, and a window.
3. The better the room, the better your work will be. Having a stunning view, lots of light, multiple windows and gorgeous natural surroundings will help you thrive creatively, and help you work quickly so you can go out and see stuff when you're finished!
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