The Gift of Sight: Timmy O’Neill Studies at Tilganga Eye Institute on Behalf of Himalayan Cataract Project – Osprey Packs Experience
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The Gift of Sight: Timmy O’Neill Studies at Tilganga Eye Institute on Behalf of Himalayan Cataract Project

Photo: Ace Kvale, Elevation Outdoors

I am in Kathmandu, Nepal for the next two months studying to be an ophthalmic tech at the Tilganga Eye Institute working on behalf of the Himalayan Cataract Project and Dr. Geoff Tabin. I made it after more than two days of 725-mph aluminium tubes cruising at 35,000-feet above sea level with intermittent groveling on greasy airport carpets. I just finished my first day of training and I have class six days a week with Nepali language class another three nights a week.

This town seems to both simultaneously ensconce and entomb me: at once offering the majesty and curiosity of the many stupas with burning sandal wood incense, ringing bells and garland covered lingams; monkeys, cows and dogs stirring up pigeons into the firmament alongside the offerings to the multitudes of gods and goddesses; narrow roadways winding past dust-caked brick walls that obscure wizened city denizens practicing ancient forms of prayer and life.

Then the paradox of it’s chaotic road ways and lack of sidewalks where the pedestrian only has the dog to kick, and then in turn has to receive the boot from the bicycle and motorcycle both gunning for the legs as the taxis, mini buses and lories aim for full body contact.

This place exists in the present perfect near-miss close-call collision of watch out, what if and ‘wait and feel.’

I feel like the frog dropped into boiling water, instead of the temp slowly increasing around me; the key is not to run but to relax into the continual merge of man, motor and beast.

It feels as if the spiritual body has an inverse to the pollution of the physical body in Kathmandu — to soar to great soul heights, then to be grounded physically by burning choking pollution. I have had several morning walks to the BoudhaNath for prayer laps of clock-wisdom incantations.

Thanks to Geoff Tabin and the Himalayan Cataract Project I can thankfully come on board for education, inspiration and exhilaration of the human spirit. The incredible people and culture of Kathmandu fuses with the intense academic workload of eye care with, luckily, just a touch of adventure and exercise at the local climbing crags.

I will be back in the States towards the end of May after participating in a large volume cataract intervention in Ethiopia, just in time to play with GMart (aka Osprey’s marketing director Gareth Martins) and the band at theTelluride Mountain Film Festival.

Thanks Osprey for the continued support and for helping me achieve my goal of worldwide adventure philanthropy in this one spin across the spinning globe called life.

Timmy O’Neill is a climber, speaker, musician and budding opthalmic tech. Read more about the work Timmy is doing with the Himalayan Cataract Project in his recent story in Elevation Outdoors.