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Low plains drifter

NOV 29 -

The journey began from this valley, my hometown Kathmandu, to the plains. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel on the East-West Highway on a most personal basis—a trippy trip in search of self-worth. Pre-monsoon rain, the occasional thundershower is always a cool welcome blessing despite all the noise and the fury. Farmers busied themselves. The parched land began to slake its thirst. We live to sow this earth. It feeds, clothes and heals. The drought had left us alone mercifully. Ploughing the fields was the life blood. The long hot days stretched ahead until the monsoon’s serious onslaught began.

I was blessed 10-fold to get to stay with many wonderful families and experience their everyday life. A hospitable farmer let me live in his cattle shed. The village people welcomed me. Children gathered around and I taught them nursery rhymes and the English alphabet in the beginning. I made a deal with the very poor. They shared their food and drink with me in exchange for lessons to their kids and got to know them and they got to know me on intimate terms. I got my project off the ground. I had 30 kids to teach, to look out for a few hours every day. They taught me their local dialects, four different dialects. Soon I had picked up a smattering of basic local lingo.

These simple people living in parts of Nepal off the beaten track do not have any shopping complexes, department stores, theatres and entertainment venues. They make the most of what they have and nothing is wasted. They were so content with the little they had, yet they saw themselves as “rich” in different ways and were so willing to share what they had. Though the villages are spread out over hundreds of kilometres of land, it seemed as though everyone was family and everyone knew everyone! Come dusk, the cattle return home. The dust settles. Smoke curls up in lazy patterns through the thatched roof. Well water moves on heads as usual.

The experiences Madhes offers are endless. I lived in the middle of a vast open land, surrounded by foothills leading to the towering Himalayan mountains. The sights were breathtaking, and I found myself going to bed eager to wake up to watch the fire-red sun creep over the Siwalik mountains. Wildlife also became a common sight, which took some getting used to! I was instructed on the mystical significance of “bhang”, “ganja” and “dhatura”, a hallucinogen used in ascetic practices. Night had fallen and the new moon played in a field of stars. A soft breeze stayed for a while bringing a scent parade of flowers in bloom… the sweetest one was of the queen of nights. Down the road past the haven that materialised one winter night, conjured up from my rambling writings, I walk the dusty road, a wayfarer with wanderlust appeased.

Posted on: 2012-11-30 08:55


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