Thanks so much for being interested in Kutumba's story!
Aussie woman Joh heads off to Nepal during a world trip and falls in love - twice. Firstly with the country and secondly with one of it's countrymen; Dilli (or was it the other way around?!) They marry, have 2 beautiful children and live back and forth between Australia and Nepal. Finally settling in Adelaide, South Australia they feel an intense need to sustain their connection to Nepal and support the Nepali people. Drawing on Joh's passion for handmade, authentic crafts and the blessing of being able to personally source them, Kutumba is born.
Kutumba means kinsfolk in Limbu (Dilli's ethnic caste language) and through the stories behind the handicrafts, creative workshops, Nepali cooking classes, dinner nights and fundraisers, a new community of 'kinsfolk' was created. On a quiet seaside strip in Largs Bay, that store bursting with hand picked ethically traded treasures is now in it's 5th year.
I am not gifted at telling short stories I'm afraid....so forgive me if the following long version is a little long in the tooth!
It all began in 2003 when I (Joh.....yes, spelled with an 'h') took off from my home in Australia on a solo globe-trotting adventure. Stricken with the travel bug since childhood and armed with a vague plan to reconnect with my post-divorce self whilst traversing 4 continents, I arrived firstly in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.
Strangely, Nepal had never been on my list during the planning process. I was starting with India, heading through South East Asia, Zambia, Egypt, Morocco, onto the UK and Scotland (had a job teed up there) then finally seeing parts of South America I had previously missed before potentially going home to Adelaide. It wasn't until virtually a few days before departing Adelaide that my boss at the time scolded me for being so careless. She'd had a life-changing time in Kathmandu and encouraged me to change my flights. So I did. And the rest is history as they say!
I vividly recall my debut in the hullabaloo of Kathmandu. With a few overseas adventures already under my belt, I'd laughed off my bosses warnings of culture shock in the Nepali capital. Pfft....if I'd coped with the likes of Lima, La Paz, Denpasar and Delhi I was confident of taking this ancient city in my stride.
I was wrong. I was completely overwhelmed. I was in sensory overload. The city was alive with energy, throngs of people bustling about their business, horns blaring, a plethora of smells accosting my nostrils. Potholed streets with traffic following no apparent rules. Tooting rickshaws, loud chanting music, plumes of choking incense billowing from every store. This was Thamel; Tourist HQ.