Excerpts of emails from David…
At the beginning of the day….
I was up and about a bit later this morning as there was a big lightning and thunder storm around 4am. I doubt that anyone except the deaf could have slept through it all. The thunder rolled around the valley for what appeared to be forever… but was probably only 30 mins or so. I woke again a bit before 06.00 but overcame that by rolling over and not moving again for over another hour. ‘Twas nice! Very nice to stop for a bit. It has been a hectic four weeks.
I’ll try to get some musings written about these, my last days in Pokhara for Jennie to add to our WordPress site.
At the end of the day….
The roller shutters of most of the retail establishments are rattling closed, the streets are emptying fast. It’s bed time in these parts. So let me muse a little on the doings of the day… or at least of the evening. A bit before 18.00, I suddenly realised that this was to be the last night in Pokhara for Binod for around 2 years. He was to call me to arrange to have dinner with me somewhere near my hotel. Now, as I can more that adequately look after myself, I called him on my Ncell Nepali cell phone and told him that he MUST spend his last night here with his family. I believe he was grateful for the suggestion as, being the gentleman he is, he was putting me before his family.
He agreed it would be nice to be ‘let off the hook’, so I went off to have my last massage with Bhumesh this eveing instead of tomorrow morning… suited me fine as that leaves tomorrow open to cater to all the possibilities that can arise in these parts of the world. Oh, how good is a massage after all that walking up and down steep mountain tracks!
Being on my own for dinner also meant that I could wander up the street to my ‘favourite’ bar/restaurant – The Rainbow Bar. There, my friendly waiter, Robin from Hetauda, was to greet me in his usual warm manner. He had only just arrived in Pokhara the day before I met him on my first occasion to visit the place. He was just starting to get used to life away from his family.
I remembered the name “Hetauda” well. It was the place “Star Beer” was brewed and that was virtually the only local beer to be had in Nepal 37 years ago when I lived here. I’m told that beer was full of glycerine then… but that didn’t stop the ex-pat community from consuming rather large quantities of the stuff in this rather humid climate… well, that was our excuse anyway. Interestingly, in those days, the beer was brought up the Rajpath (road from India) in hessian sacks, packed into the back of a Tata truck. Each bottle had a rice-stalk cone placed over it to protect it from the tortuous climb up to Kathmandu. If I remember correctly, there were around 1,500 hairpin bends in the 30km length of the Rajpath. I travelled this route on numerous occasions and I remember well the interesting situations that would develop when two Tata trucks met each other on one of those hair-pin bends. One had to back up as there was no way they could pass each other… a sheer drop on one side and a sheer cliff on the other. In these situations, blowing the horn is more than a life-saving event. There is now a less tortuous route from India to land-locked Nepal.
Back to my chat with the waiter, Robin. I asked him if he was married. Yes, he is… and with a 4 year old daughter. “When did he think he would get back home?”, was the obvious next question. I suggested ‘Dasain” the major festival of the Nepali calendar. “No”, he said, “I’m a Christian”. So, maybe, Christmas is the opportunity he will take to reunite with his family… but that’s in the middle of the tourist season, albeit a a bit of a downturn time. All one can hope for is that he is not away from his family for too long to miss out completely on his daughter’s growing up. I’ve enjoyed my chat’s with Robin and hoped that a bit of friendliness helped to lessen some of the loneliness for him.
As an aside… I read in the English language newspaper on a table in the lobby of this fine establishment, the Adam Hotel, that Qatar has offered an armistice to illegal immigrants to leave the country without prosecution. It’s estimated that this will benefit up to 22,000 Nepalis. Who knows how many other Nepalis have left their families and country to earn enough money to provide, in particular, a better education for their kids ? It beggars the imagination, and we in Australia, in the Land of Plenty, by most standards, send refugees to remote islands and let them rot!!!! We, again from the the Land of Plenty, cannot possibly conceive what it must take to leave behind one’s country of birth, with what you can carry on your back, and head into the unknown. Shame on us! Mind you, I believe that if we let these people in, they must accept our standards and rules and the first foot put out of place and that individual is on the first plane back to where they came from, no matter what the consequences are. If Australia was such a good place to come to in the beginning, then they should live by our rules! Now, I admit, those few words have ended these musings with a bit of pontification, but I don’t say “Sorry”.
So what, in fact, did I have for my meal this time…. I ordered a fungi (read mushroom) pizza, but in my defence, it was the first non-Nepali meal I’ve had in 4 weeks. I also ordered a ‘Nepali’ Ice’ beer, at 7% alcohol. It was lovely and chisso (cold) and the next one was just as good.
Now back in better internet connection, I’ve sent Jennie some photos of my final days in the villages… good memories of an exceptional experience:
Children from one of the primary schools we visited.
Our farewell from the Thanti High School. Binod and I had been given the inevitable scarf… in this case yellow… so we do stand out from that sea of blue uniforms.
Our beds being returned to their rightful owners. Many thanks!
My farewell from the newly completed health post which was my home away from home while staying here in this pretty remote and isolated part of Nepal. Such friendly people… and yes another scarf… this time in red… matches the farewell tika on my forehead!
A photo of some very happy women… happy that Binod had come to their communities to bring hope of better awareness in these rural villages of the need for much better health programs especially for pregnant women and for safer births. Binod had worked non stop for four months and the results are very promising. So much has been achieved here in these villages on such an important community based program.
I know Binod feels very happy with the outcome of all of his vision and hard work… well actually it’s only the start of his vision for better health for rural Nepal. He has a twenty year plan and, being the dedicated person he is, I’m sure he will achieve his goals and dreams. He’s seen here with the man who tailored my Nepali outfit that I was wearing in the post about the visit to the school in Chitre.
Jennie has begun to add photos of my time here in Nepal to her flickr site… and we’ll add more photos when I get home and sort out my SD Cards. In the meantime why not check out the site:
Updates of Binod’s work will be added to his site for this program:
More anon from Kathmandu… my last port of call before heading home to Australia.
If you have enjoyed reading of this journey into rural Nepal, please pass our website onto family and friends.