There is no better feeling than returning home to be with family and friends. My five-year-old daughter Priya (pictured) is making her first trip to Nepal. She had the biggest grin as she watched the Himalaya draw closer from the window of the plane as we approached Kathmandu. "Aren't you excited to be back?" she asked.
There are more cars, more buildings,more smog and more dust but my homeland remains beautiful and enchanting. I am thrilled to be back to show my roots to Priya but also to help celebrate tennis in Nepal. This country needs positive energy and tennis is no exception. My goal is to energise tennis lovers in Nepal and give them hope for a better tomorrow.
It hasn't taken me long to learn that very little has changed regarding the state of tennis in Nepal. Yes, there are some superficial developments such as an increased number of courts and some new tournaments. But the general feeling is of apathy about developing the game. Tennis aficionados have lost trust in the All Nepal Tennis Association. Lack of communication by ANLTA about its vision and plans seems to be at the core of the problem. A long-time patron of tennis summed it up to me: "We have got to stop relying on ANLTA and hold ourselves accountable for change".
Two shining examples that we can emulate are initiatives taken by my friends Manoj and Jyoti Rana as well as my father Hem Lama. The annual Jayakar Open in memory of the Ranas' late son was a way for them to remember Jayakar as well as to give Nepali youth an opportunity to compete in a tournament.
The undersized tennis court that my father built at his house now serves over 40 kids, including seven children from Bal Mandir orphanag. These heart-warming developments are models for success and serve as inspiration.
My tennis clinic on Saturday sponsored by this paper (see www.nepalitimes.com) and another one by Little Angels School on Monday will give me an opportunity to reach out to the youth. There is no better way than to get young people excited and enthused about tennis. I will be giving tips about the technical, tactical and mental aspects of tennis. I will also be talking about training and tournament preparation.
The two most important areas are teamwork and love for the game of tennis. We must instil in our children the values of hard work, fair play and importance of making the people around us better.
I have also invited all our past champions and coaches to participate in this celebration of tennis in Nepal. They will be recognised for their contributions to the development of the game. The role they play is critical and it is important for the younger generation to appreciate as well as embrace their knowledge and expertise.
I hope to have as many dialogues as possible with the tennis community and the ANTLA in the next couple of days with the aim of developing the sport in Nepal. It is time we come together and get it done for the right reasons. We have an obligation to step up and make changes.
As I walk the streets of Kathmandu, I feel Nepal's vibrancy. Memories of childhood have flooded back. Yes, Priya, I love Nepal and am excited to be back.