A small piece of the world (4)
Nine-month adventure through 11 countries in three continents
By Neema Moraveji
February 15, 2002
Week 4: Nepal
While I was in Benares (Varanasi), India, I had the idea to make a trip up to Nepal.
It was relatively close (a 24 hour bus ride to the border, another 16 to the nearest
town) and I wanted to immerse myself in nature and see the Himalayas. I didn't have
any climbing gear nor warm clothes but I made do with what I had and rented some
stuff in a town in Nepal. After around ten days in Nepal, I took several buses back
to Benares to celebrate the Indian holiday of Holi and continue on to Amritsar, Dharamsala,
and then to Pakistan.
In Nepal, I stayed two nights in the second largest town in Nepal, Pokarah - a base
camp for travelers and a tourist attraction but also home to thousands of locals.
The first night I stayed there I befriended a couple of young Nepalis my own age
and they took me out to a Nepali disco. It was a great time and I don't think I
need to mention that Nepali women are beautiful. While in Nepal I noticed the division
between the two types of Nepalis: the more Asian-looking ones and the more Indian-looking
ones. The Asian-looking ones had less money, lived in the hills, and didn't own
many businesses. The Indian-looking ones owned most of the shops and many of the
political positions. Another interesting note to make is that I was in Nepal a few
weeks before the notorious scandal regarding the homicides and suicides in the royal
family in Nepal.
economny of Nepal was in bad shape. Many women were left alone at home because men
went abroad to find work and send money home. I talked to several women who had
the same story: their husbands were in the Philipines, Singapour, Pakistan, UAE,
all over Asia and the Middle East.
The next morning I set off for a six-day trek alone through the mountains on a circular
path. Along the way, I stayed in small houses/hostels run by locals who live up
in the mountains. Everything they have was carried by somebody up through the mountains.
I stayed with one family and got along with them quite well. The daughter and I
managed to communicate with her broken English along with gestures and good 'ol smiles.
They had a tape deck and a small boombox and they repeatedly asked me to dance to
the latest American music for them. Never one to displease, I obliged. I danced
for them for hours (literally); me, alone, in front of a family of women as well
as three construction men who were building a house down the road. They danced a
bit for me as well - it was a blast. None of the women danced - it was men-only.
We drank horrible alcohol and laughed for hours into the night. They wanted me
to stay with them another night but I was on a schedule and wanted to get moving.
The next morning I bid them adieu and gave my necklace to the daughter who I had
become friends with. In return, she gave me her necklace and I still have it. The
next morning I continued up hill, through the forests...
The next night I slept in a different house and there was a large snowstorm during
the night. The next day much of the paths were covered in snow and I had no guide
to show me where to go. At one point I became lost - a scary thought - and had to
yell for the attention of an old women I saw through the trees. I shouted the name
of the village I wanted to go to and she pointed in the right direction. It was
the one moment where I really wanted a guide. Because of all the snow melting throughout
the day, the paths had become rivers of mud. With nothing but sneakers I dove up
and down the mountain, clinging to branches and trusting logs to break my fall.
The Nepalis, however, were experts in climbing up and down these mountains in any
weather with nothing other than flipflops. One time, as I was contemplating how
to traverse a extremely steep decline that was nothing but mud, two Nepali men ran
up behind me and without any hesitation floated down the mudslide with only two
bounds. I hardly believed it when I saw it - they could almost fly down the mountain.
It took me 45 minutes to get down a portion of the hill that took them only five
Walking through forests, hearing nothing but the beating of my heart and the crunch
of my feet over snow and and leaves, my short trek through a few Himalayan mountains
was a beautiful experience. Away from the intensity and ferocity of Indian cities
and villages, I enjoyed my time alone. After my trek and my time in Nepal, I returned
to face another six weeks immersed in the insanity of India.
Next week I will start from the border of India and Pakistan and go through my short
trip through Pakistan to the border of Iran.
NEXT photo (15 total)
A friend I met while walking in a small Nepali village at the base of a mountain
- a starting point for many treks in the area. As you can see, my right pant leg
is rolled up because of the infection on my leg that caused me so much grief in India
and Thailand. It hurt and had still not healed.#
NEXT photo (15 total)