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By Bonnie Baranoff

April 27, 2015 (La Mesa) -- It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California as patrons enjoy lunch and dinner at Himalayan Cuisine, and shopping at the Himalayan Bazaar in La Mesa. But on the other side of the world in Nepal and in parts of India and China, the scene is much different: it’s raining, it’s dark, and it’s destroyed.

Mr. Khem Kharel, owner of Himalayan Cuisine in La Mesa and a native of Nepal, says that his immediate family in Kathmandu--his 84 year old mother, his brother, brother’s wife and other family members--are thankfully “fine, just scared” and hungry. He has been in touch with his family, briefly, by phone, two times since the epicenter of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the remote village of Barpak, in the northern-central Gorkha District, about 50 miles northwest from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu on April 25. The latest numbers report more than 4,400 deaths.

Lack of electricity makes charging mobile phones a luxury, so getting through to talk to anyone is a challenge. Like most outside observers, Mr. Kharel is watching and learning about developments from news and social media. When asked if he had any pictures emailed from family or friends on the scene, Mr. Kharel said his family doesn’t have the time, energy or electricity to spend to take pictures. They are “not in the mood to take pictures.” People have no food, no water and are in need of medical supplies. It’s “very sad.”

The first time he spoke with his family, they only had “like a minute” to talk, “then it crashed.” But when he spoke with them again on Sunday, they told him they are “o.k., don’t worry...we are outside on the ground.” He commented that it was good that the quake happened on a weekend day, when no one was at school or at the office. People were outside at noon instead of indoors, where more could have been buried by falling bricks and cement.

Mr. Kharel and his family have been in La Mesa for several years, and are no strangers to earthquakes or the devastation they can cause. They previously lived in Los Angeles, and owned an Italian restaurant in North Hollywood’s Laurel Plaza when the 1994 Northridge earthquake “crashed everything.” Having experienced a 6.7 magnitude earthquake, he understands the feelings that come with that force, and the realization that every additional point means the quake is that much more powerful. He can imagine what 7.9 must have felt like, indicating he “can feel it here” as he pointed to his chest.

“God will help to heal the innocent people that are injured and in hospital.”

How you can help: watch this space!

Many people are calling and emailing Himalayan Cuisine asking how they can help the people of Nepal. Mr. Kharel is planning a fund raiser at his restaurant next week; day and time are being finalized. In the meantime, he suggests people visit Shree Pashupatinath Foundation, USA to make donations so that any aid can get directly to the people who need it most.

Mr. Rishi Punnakar Dhakal, Vice President of the Shree Pashupatinath Foundation, USA and Honorary Consulate of Nepal to USA (San Diego, California) shares that he is “quite busy” with everything, and that their mission is to help Nepal. “Almost more than 4,300 people are dead and the government is going to remote parts of the country.” With helicopters and time, they are making progress, but “people don’t have food, medication, clothes, or tents” as the heavy rains continue to fall. 100% of the donations to the Nepal Earthquake Emergency Fund go directly to the government of Nepal, including purchase of tents in India that are being sent to Kathmandu. The “villages are all collapsed,” and there is very limited contact. It’s easier to get and keep in touch with Kathmandu but when it’s far away in the villages and in the mountains, information is difficult to obtain.

Local Relief Efforts

Shree Pashupatinath Foundation, USA

Tax-deductible donations to the Nepal Earthquake Emergency Fund

Tel: (562) 864-7600

Candlelight Vigil and Fundraiser for Earthquake Victims in Nepal is being held Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00PM at the UCSD Geisel Library, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla

Himalayan Cuisine, corner of El Cajon Blvd. & Baltimore Dr., 7918 El Cajon Blvd. #P, La Mesa, 91941. Accepting donations on behalf of the Nepal Earthquake Emergency Fund.

Tel: (619) 461-2503

Help Nepal Earthquake Victims at

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Mr Kahrel

I hope that your friends and family are safe. California is likely to have a large earthquake. Small ones reduce stress on the San Andreas fault, I haven't felt a quake in a long time.