[ Pokhara, Nepal ]
When last we spoke, I had weathered the less-stormy-than-anticipated Constituent Assembly elections here on L’Isle de Pokhara, surrounded by hyper-curious, unbelievably well-traveled, enthusiastic, energetic, polyglot cultural misfits in various stages of quasi-intergalactic Road Trip repose. This I followed with a good deal more of the same—camaraderie, daily explorations of Pokhara and environs, nice flying adventures in beautiful weather—before disappearing yet again into eastern Nepal’s forests. This time for the holiday season and the inevitable annual turn of the global odometer.
[The new image gallery from the trip, Faces of Bhojpur has full-sized images of all the faces above, plus many, many more.]
No electricity, no modern conveniences, no internet. Hence no Transglobal Tuesdays. I know, I know…you’re heartbroken. What can I say? It seemed like the right idea at the time.
While in Kot, my linguistic accomplishments vis-à-vis the Nepali language remained undistinguished—beginning at non-existent, moving glacially through abysmal, and arriving, on better days, at atrocious. Not so the practice sessions, however; those were always memorable. One example, not unusual: arrive on a sunless, frozen hillside unannounced (and tardy, naturally) for a Hindu ceremony of unclear origins to find myself encircled by 50+ inquisitive locals. [Ceremonial flames? Check. Mist-shrouded bamboo forest? Check. Freshly beheaded remains of 15 sacrificial goats bleeding steamily into the cold air? But of course! ] Accept invitation to take place of honor around the fire. Field blunt, complex questions using all fourteen words in your Nepali arsenal (ever tried to discuss the difference between spiritual & financial wealth using fourteen words? It ain’t easy, I can tell you that).
Another example, all-too-frequent: wander forth from one’s domicile, early A.M., to find oneself accosted by a certain alcohol-enamored Uncle—already two sheets to the wind, a third unfurled and at the ready. Uncle bellows demands: accompany him for his morning pick-me-up; present him with various gifts; give him money for his beloved booze. Before an audience of stern family matriarchs practice interrogatives (“Why? What for?”), negative verb forms (“Money not-give. Pen not-give. Trekking pole not-give. Winter jacket not-give. Nothing not-give!”), and honorifics, comparisons and imperatives (“[Honorific You] are like a castrated goat, always crying ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’”). Bask in the glow of amused laughter as Uncle stumbles off into the rising sun.
[The dressing-down of Uncle benefitted greatly from the whispering, real-time, Cyrano-esque assistance of a laughing twelve-year old boy. Thanks Caesar.]
Or (more pleasantly): wander to the village Health Post and while away the afternoons chatting up the three beautiful young women who staff that facility on school days. Invite them all to your rapidly approaching birthday party in far-away Pokhara. Swoon when one of them accepts (and yes…there’ll be much more on that topic at a later date).
Completely absent from this three-week visit were any traces of the First World consumerist orgy known as [insert name of your preferred End of Year tradition here]. Still less any vestiges of the clueless, puerile know-nothingism embodied by my home country’s defensive outcries at some imaginary “War” on Moses the African Santa Jesus Fairy. Or whatever.
By way of contrast, my Christmas Day consisted of a bath at a nearby temple, a solitary walk through the aforementioned no-longer-mist-shrouded bamboo forest, the from-scratch construction of a buffalo shed, and a simple dinner with my family. Nothing was advertised. Nothing purchased. No gifts exchanged but kindness. New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, was only a goathair’s-breadth shy of rampant bacchanalia: I drank a glass of raksi with dinner and was in bed (alone, thanks for asking) by 7:30PM. I will admit, though, to briefly missing the delicious bit of midnight snogging that is, for me at least, this holiday’s principal allure.
Existential sigh of relief breathed. Pause taken. Context restored.
And so it was a Happy New Me who reemerged in Pokhara less than two weeks ago. Since that time I have (A) been physically obliterated by the former Kickboxing Champion of Nepal; (B) received emergency dental care by the light of an iPhone (unrelated to (A), see following ¶); (C) been gripped by panic and near-crippling procrastination; and (D) remained immune—despite the early onset of spring—to any desire to unpack my wing and take to the Himalayan skies. Go figure.
Regarding (A), I started doing some basic weight training at a gym owned by the Kickboxing Kid, who also happens to be my trainer. Despite his outward gestures of kindness, he is clearly a vicious sadist bent on my personal destruction. (B) has already been clarified in a dedicated post, which you may or may not find entertaining. (C) is described brilliantly in this post, which I stumbled upon during a typically anti-productive internet loitering session. And (D)? Well, (D) is likely some perverse, Freudian transmogrification of self-loathing induced by the sub-conscious procrastinatory mechanisms laid bare in (C)’s link. Heh.
And then there’s (E): preparing for my upcoming birthday party. Of course you’re invited. If you’re not doing anything on February 3rd, have some time to kill, and would like to celebrate a pretty significant Turn of the Transglobal Screw, come join us at Silk Road for the big bash.
But enough about me. What the hell have you been up to?
Love and reach-arounds (and a most joyous 2014),