Archive for September 25th, 2009

Only in Nepal

Kyagon gompo to Bamboo 2042m

God’s bench
I write this entry under a thatched roof where the hens, roosters and I take shelter from the rain. Walked a knee jarring 7.5 hours today after awaking to a magnificent sunrise amongst the mountain giants. Coming down slope we spotted a troop of howler monkeys who put on quite an acrobat show.  More impressive however were the large white faces cousins who demonstrated amazing prowess as they moved from tree to tree with their young clutched to their chest.

People are people are people. My Japanese friend pulled me aside, and as often seen in Japanese politeness, expressed to me that I might want to consider taking a more direct leadership role with my young porter. “I have worked here for 10 years, I understand the language, I understand the caste system, and it is best for you to understand this is a business relationship where you are the boss.  Your porter is a good man, but he like so many here is a desperate young man.  You must manage that; manage the expectations, manage the relationship”. This council came as a surprise and, well, not a surprise. I had seen some indication of conflicts arising  (where to stay, how far to hike…) but attempted to simply go with it. I also had a nagging thought that I new somehow he was right. A friend had told me to be careful on this trip; not physically, but emotionally as I needed to understand that the hugely disparate economics can complicate human interactions. These competing priorities was a primary reason, I later deduced, why we hike so far today -Anjin, was trying to set us up for an early return to KTM.  I did not really mind as I need to get more fit, but I do plan on taking a bit more of an active role in how things will be done going forward. That said, I know that Angin much prefers to stay at tea house within his same caste system so I told him that was fine, but I would be deciding, after consulting with him, how far we walked each day.  He told me that today would have only been six hours if we walked faster.  I looked him in the eye and said: “No, you know I walked very fast, do not mislead me again”. Enough said.

We found the scene of the accident today.  After looking at it carefully, I do not think I would have ever made it into the river as there was a big flat rock I would have hit first.  So that earlier assertion was and exaggeration. Now to not break anything or even survive that initial fall can still be described as: “flipping lucky”. Upon examination, I am certain that the only thing that saved me was that the fall was not completely vertical.  Rather, like a motorcycle or ski jump landing area, I hit a sloped, wet, and very very slippery ramp. This allowed me to bounce and continue to fall as the vines slowed my progress. You know, I always thought it was cool that cats had nine lives; now I am not so certain as I did some calculations and I have to be getting very close to that number.  Thus I now choose to think that I have as many lives as I am supposed to have…hopefully quite a few.

Only in Nepal could something be so backwards and broken. Or is it? I awoke disturbed from an odd dream and spent most of the day reflecting on it.  In my dream, I had needed to apply for a permit to live……a what? After standing in the queue for a good third world time, I was told “Sir, you can not apply for a living permit, without being in possession of a dying permit”.  Looking incredulously at the clerk I replied “What, why the hell is that?” to which he looked shocked and simply said “Sir, no live permit before die permit”. Hours on the trail drove home the point: You can only live after recognizing you are going to die.

I think I am actually sitting in the chicken coop; as night falls I have birds trying to roost all around me. No, a young girl just collected each bird and put them under a wicker basket.

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