June 14

A Chef In Nepal

Blog, Featured, Travel

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April 2024 Pokhara, Nepal

I stared down at the rocks below and felt my nerves tighten.

I was on the edge of a steel walkway, with 100+ meters (250 feet) between me and the ground and nothing but a bungee cord attached to my legs.

In front of me was the green hillside of Pokhara in Nepal.  The gray sky above cast an eerie glow. 

It was my turn to jump.

I looked at my friends at the bottom, cheering me on.  

The crazy thing about bungee jumping is that you have NOTHING to hold on to you.

It’s not like the thrill of a rollercoaster ride where you have harnesses to squeeze.

The countdown began. 

THREE  “Don’t look down,” I thought.

TWO  It’s ok, it’s just a jump with a fail-proof double-backup harness setup, and it’ll work out fine.

ONE  Why am I doing this again?  

Suddenly I was (gently) nudged off the ledge.   I went forward for a split second, and then downward.  I braced my muscles and tightened my core.

“FREEEEDDDOOMMMM”  I yelled (like Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”)

The cord extended as I reached the bottom.

All of my nerves suddenly turned into joy.  I was ecstatic.  

In a matter of seconds, the bungee cord stretched at the bottom and rocketed me upward.

I was smiling, ear to ear!   I felt a rush of blood to my head.  It felt euphoric.

Soon the pace slowed down.  I could hear my friends yelling with excitement below.  “Gooooo Eric!”

But the view of the mountains and the skyline stuck with me.

I was upside down, and the gray vastness of the sky was below and the green mountains were above.  With the head rush, it was beautiful and serene.  I felt calm and excited at the same time.

I stopped and tried with every fiber of my being to take a picture of this moment.  I can still see it today, months later.

It’ll always give me a sense of thrill and beauty that I can draw upon whenever I want.

As I was hoisted down, I felt energetic and alive.  I could have bungee jumped a second time at that moment!  It was better than a caffeine rush.  I just wanted to do it again.  Who needs coffee?

The EO Los Angeles Trip to Nepal

I’ve been a part of EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) since 2018, as an Accelerator and member.  That group is an exclusive network for entrepreneurs that own a business doing at least $1 million in annual revenue.  The Los Angeles chapter organizes once-in-a-lifetime trips called “MY EO” events that have been filled with incredible memories.

Here’s a recap of my trip to Japan where I sliced bamboo like a samurai, witnessed sumo wrestlers train and ate a ton of amazing sushi.

In April of 2024, I headed to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu to start the journey.  Before getting on the flight, they asked if I’d like to upgrade from Economy to Business class for $700.  I thought, “Nah, it’s a short flight.”

My 4 hour flight from Dubai took a total of 10 hours because of heavy rain in Dubai and strong winds in Kathmandu.  

If you can…always upgrade.  

The trip was made of about 30 EO members and their guests.  Half of them I knew from our Japan trip and it was great to reconnect, plus make new friends.

On our first day in Kathmandu, we toured historic local sites, lots of shrines, a school for monks and even learned to meditate in a temple.  Our tour guide, a local monk with an easy smile and a relaxed aura shared a bit of wisdom that hit home.

Life Lesson:  How To Shed Anger Like A Monk

“You can experience negative emotions in different ways,” he said.  

We all sat cross-legged, on mats in a temple, staring at a shrine in front of us.

“Anger can be etched in stone, sand, or water,” he explained.  “If it’s etched in stone, the anger is hardened and deep.  It will stay with you for life until you let it go.” 

“If the anger is etched in the sand, it stays there,” he said.  “But the wind will soon blow it away and it will disappear.”

“If the anger is etched in water, it stays there for a moment and quickly fades.”  

He made a sweeping motion with his hands to demonstrate.  

I stopped and thought about that idea.  

I have several people (and past memories) with bits of anger or sorrow that are etched in stone.  These moments don’t serve me and sometimes take me to dark places. 

Now, when I have a negative emotion, I visualize it in water.  I let it sit there and soon it fades.  Emotions are a natural part of life, but you don’t have to hold on to anger.  Let it pass, and stay in the moment.  Breathe.  

I like the phrase, “Looking back brings back depression, looking forward brings anxiety.  It’s only in the present where one can find peace.”

I can be a bit neurotic sometimes, and can imagine the future in many different ways.  It can be an asset in business because I can look ahead and make intelligent decisions.  But in my personal life, it’s less helpful because you can’t predict how other people will act…only yourself.  In a future post, I’ll go deeper into this when I share another realization while on a bike ride through the tropical forest of Galle, Sri Lanka.

The EO Nepal Dinner

That evening, we divided up into small groups and headed to a local dinner hosted by EO Nepal members.  I stepped off the bus and received a warm welcome from the members and their spouses, and even received a traditional hat.  

The hosts were excited to have us, and I was buzzing with enthusiasm to learn about what it’s like to run a business and live in Kathmandu, the capital.

We sat on long tables with a large pathway in the middle.  We had trays and small bowls in front of us that would soon be filled with over 30 different courses.

My guest to my left, Nakin, showed me a full menu of what was in store.  Nakin was in the “movie business” and if you know me, I was immediately intrigued.  He brings Hollywood movies to Nepal and has an empire of over 40 screens throughout the country.  He even makes and produces full-length feature films with his son.

A lot of the Nepal members were in hospitality, steel, manufacturing, and more.  Our host runs a company that builds and sells motorbikes for the country, which is a very popular way to travel around the city.  

I asked one of the members what he wished foreigners knew about Nepal.

“I wish people could understand that Nepal is MORE than just Mount Everest,” he said.  “We have a large amount of historic sites.  We are happy people.  Our culture is unique and our food is quite good!”

The meal was filled with many exotic flavors including buffalo, tasty cauliflower, pickled vegetables, stewed chicken, sour soup, baked rice, and much much more.  I couldn’t keep track of it all, but it was entertaining to try it all and eat with my hands. They even brought in hand wipes between each course.  Somehow, my white pants remained spotless.

There were performances too, including traditional dances, like this one of a masked deity jumping and hopping to the drum beat.  It was festive and fun.  

The meal ended with more gifts, a sweet donut ball, and fresh fruit.  Throughout the night, there was such a warm energy.  That’s the power of EO. If you meet a member in the world, there is an immediate sense of connection and community…even if you’re thousands of miles from home. 

The “Monkey On Your Back” Business Analogy

At lunch, we entrepreneurs talk about everything…but one of our favorite topics is business (obviously!).  We also talk about travel, dating, marriage, divorce, taxes, building companies, scaling businesses, family, hopes and dreams.

One story helped a buddy of mine, and it’s something my business mentor once told me that I’d like to share with you.  It’s a way to frame “problems” that pop up in any organization 

When one of your colleagues comes into your office with a problem or question, I want you to imagine that it’s a monkey on their back.  

They typically will come up to you, talk about the monkey, leave the monkey on your desk, and walk away.

The next person comes up to you, with a different monkey, presents the monkey, leaves it with you, and exits.

What happens at the end of the day?

You have a room full of monkeys!

No one wants that.

Instead, when someone comes to you with a “quick question” or “I just need 5 minutes of your time” it’s better to literally imagine they have a monkey, and your goal is to have them leave the conversation WITH the monkey.  Your goal is to come up with a solution, an action plan and then make sure they can solve the issue as they leave.

This way, at the end of your day, you have 0 monkeys at your desk.  It’ll help keep your workload manageable. And your stress levels are a bit lower.

The People of Nepal

“This is the way it is” is a common way that lower-income Nepolsese people look at life, one member of EO Nepal told me.

If there’s no electricity, “This is the way it is.”

If there’s no food, “This is the way it is.”

It’s a philosophy of just accepting the good and the bad that comes your way.

Nepal is a very poor country.  The capital has some nice areas, but if you explore outside you’ll see people living in shacks. Blue tarps are used to cover houses. Most people live off of less than $300 USD per month! A skilled welder at a steel mill might earn $400 a month. It definitely feels and looks 3rd world…the polar opposite of lavish, clean, and glitzy Dubai.

But the people here are quick to laugh. They enjoy the company of others and you’ll see them hanging out chatting at cafes and restaurants throughout the country. You can tell they don’t take life too seriously, and have a more relaxed aura than Westerners. I’m a pretty easy going guy, but not like these guys.  

The Tallest Mountain In The World 

Our journey continued to see things like:

  • Annapurna base camp, way up high in the Himalaya mountains
  • The birthplace of Buddha
  • A night out at the hottest nightclub in the country called “Lord of the Drink”
  • A tour of a local steel and plastic manufacturer 

But nothing compared to the grand finale, a flyover by helicopter near the base camp of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world!  It’s over 8,800 meters tall (29,000 feet) and our tour would bring us to 18,000 feet in the air to circle its base camp.

We were up at 5:30 am to take a bus ride to the Kathmandu airport, then another ride to our helicopter.  The helicopter is fitted with extra fuel in containers for a 45-minute flight to Lukla. This small city is known to have the most dangerous airport in the world because the runway is very short (but don’t worry, it’s easy to access by helicopter).  We dropped our extra fuel so we would be lighter and headed up another spot to land at 13,000 feet in the air.  

We dropped off a few passengers and then began our accent. At 18,000 feet was the BIGGEST mountain of all time!  It’s the mountain every kid is taught in schools.  The funny thing is, it doesn’t have a beautiful peak, like one you might expect in the Paramount Pictures logo. It’s sloped like a large oval. We could see people trekking from the Basecamp, ready to face the top. It was very thrilling!

 

Afterward, we headed to Mount Everest Hotel, where we had breakfast with the beautiful mountains in the background.

At the airport, I reflected on our EO journey. These people bring out the best in me. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard and so often. I love hearing their stories, successes, and failures, plus sharing my own.  

(And I’m sure they’re all tired of me raving about life in Dubai, but I enjoy being the “poster boy” for my new home.)

We already have plans to go to Armenia as a group in October 2024. But until then, I can sit, reflect, take a few breaths, and close the books on another epic trip to a faraway country with my EO friends.

Read More:

A Chef In Japan

A Chef in Poland

At LIFT Enrichment, we can’t make you Nepalese food but we can teach your students at Title-1 schools how to make cauliflower rice, black bean sliders, healthy orange chicken, and veggie mac and cheese!  Join a meeting with our team here.


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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