In early 2017 I met a very nice Nepali man that was the same age as the man I was previously involved in that owned Hidden Paradise in Nepal. Because of the hurt and damage caused by that man I did not trust any Nepali men that pursued me. This man was told I can design websites by another Nepali friend in hopes to get me some business and make money. The man  asked for help with a website so I told him it was 50,000 npr ($500) for a basic 5 page site. He asked for a discount but I told him that was the discount. I charge $1,500 for my US clients for the same type of website, this was the Nepali price. He said he would think about as he headed off to a trek to the Everest Base Camp with some clients. He messaged me often while he was on the trek telling me he missed me and wanted to see me when he got back to Pokhara in a few weeks. I repeatedly told him “as friends” to be very clear, to which he agreed. He returned to Pokhara and we went to dinner. I told him I did not want to get into a relationship as I just had a bad break up with a Nepali man and didn’t trust. He told me everything I needed to hear at that moment. He would take thing slow, he cared about me, he wanted to earn my trust, he even told me he doesn’t sleep with the girls on trek and doesn’t drink and party with his clients. He was either perfect, or I was being manipulated again. The second time we went to lunch was a few days later and he told me of a story about a girl that messaged him all the time. Her Brother found out and forced him to marry her. Then she was angry, always yelling at him. She had one child, and another. The story was long and I was holding back the giggles and permagrin during the whole thing. At one point his phone rang and there was a photo of a western girl on the screen. He quickly answered and darted outside to take the call. Yes, another girl he had on the hook for help to leave this horrible wife of his. He came back, finished his story and then asked me to help him separate from her. He worked for her brother and he needed a partner to start a new business so that he could get away from all of them. I told him I do not help Nepali directly. All my aid goes through various projects and the organization I work with. He repeated how difficult it would be to separate. So I told him a story of a woman younger than him with two children leaving a man that beat her. I asked him “Does your wife hit you?” to which he said “No.” I continued with how difficult it was and how expensive lawyers were at the time. It cost $20,000 in the end and the woman had no help. When she finally Divorced she had nothing and no help, but she persevered. She raised the two children she had (much younger than the ones he had) on her own with no support. The children are now grown and the woman is in a successful career. If she can do it, then he can do it.

During this time with the man, I found an apartment in Pokhara through a woman that is a broker. She friended me and often came over for tea in the mornings. Every day she would stop by with milk in hand to make tea, or bring soup or some sort of snack. After two weeks of her frequenting my home and our attempt to communicate with my broken Nepali and her broken English she asked me one day for help paying for her Daughter’s University. I told her we can submit an application to the organization but there is an approval process that takes time. With her Daughter in her third year, the woman had paid for 2 months of tuition, but needed help with more. Being that it was just $200 it would be easy for me to pay it and feel good about myself, but I had a new rule and I was sticking to it. I told her that at this time it is too late to try to get her funded and she was going to have to keep paying the tuition on her own. She said “It is very difficult.” I told her a story of a single Mom with two children going to University in America. The cost of their tuition is $30,000 each (30 lack npr). She gasped at the number. I told her the woman also had to pay for room, food, books, supplies and more. It was very difficult, but she managed without help and she persevered. Sadly, I never saw that woman at my apartment again.

I’m not saying that the woman in these stories are me, and I’m not saying they aren’t. The point is that we all struggle in some way and we all could use some help. Tourists work very hard for the ability to travel to beautiful countries like Nepal. The guests at Hidden Paradise aren’t handed money and therefore they can hand it over to whomever is in need. We all work hard for what we earn, some earn more than others, but we all equally work hard for what we have. Some of us that have more than others feel guilty for it, and we want to help spread the wealth of the surplus of finances that we simply don’t need above our every day living expenses.

It isn’t anyones fault for the manipulation that occurs. I truly don’t believe that there is ever anyone at fault for anything. We all simply make unintentional mistakes through a series of decisions and actions that may, or may not, harm those around us at the time. What is happening here is learned behavior. Studies show that animals when presented with a task find that when the task is completed and they receive a reward, they will then repeat the task so that they get the same outcome. At one point each of the people I encountered behaved a certain way with a westerner and were rewarded with money or some sort of aid, so they continue the behavior. Does it mean that what they are doing is wrong? In their eyes, no it is not. The people that are helping are doing it of their own free will. They are not forcing their hand at anything. All that they know is that if they are friendly and kind, even help when the people they encounter need it, that the rewards of the kindness and help followed by telling the story of hardship in just the right way will generate a positive outcome of financial aid. One of the guests at Hidden Paradise in Pokhara that I became friends with said “I went over with the mindset that their Buddhist and Hindi spiritual/religious backgrounds meant they would be super honest and all about generating good Karma. Their perception of honesty is different to my honesty though!! Karma depends on intentionality. So if they truly see nothing wrong about scamming Westerners that doesn’t really compromise their religious/spiritual beliefs.” and she is right.

So, if the people that are manipulating the tourists for money don’t feel that they are causing harm, then according to their religion they can continue to behave the same way.