Walk in the Mountains

Posted by: Hitesh Karki

Walk in the Mountains
-Hitesh Karki
We kept on waiting for the plane to arrive. While half of the group including myself had already landed in this beautiful place, half were supposed to come in the next flight and hence the wait in the runway. The clouds would not just allow the flying machine pass through it and with flying much dependent on the vision and human self of the pilot rather than on technology; we had no option but to wander around the airport keeping a constant close look of the clouds. Waiting, alongside, were a group of Russian tourists. They too had some of their friends arriving in the same flight.

Thanks to the open political scene in the country, the runway was the place where we all stood staring at the clouds to open up. I say this because certain places used to be out of bounds area in the days gone by and in the name of freedom, suddenly everyplace is accessible and every action doable. To spur up the otherwise dull atmosphere, a stray dog began running across the sloped runway and soon two more joined the party. A policeman guarding the airport got some order from his senior and started his efforts to drive them away. The dogs ran but aimlessly, almost in circles. They would not get out of the little outlet in the otherwise fenced runway of the uniquely built Lukla airport. He picked up a stone and started hitting the dogs. A couple of his hits missed the dogs before one hit right on its back. The dog made a very loud squeaking noise and managed to draw everyone’s attention. Almost instantaneously, the Russians thronged into the heart of runway. It did not make sense at first before they almost attempted to bring the policeman down by overpowering him. A girl screamed right on his face “Isn’t non- violence something that your country preaches’. Being a good nepali, he just shied away. I am not quite sure whether he understood whatever was said to him but he just kept mum, even dared to smile. Or could it be that he disagreed with the question. Whatever the case be, the trip to mountains had started in somewhat memorable note.

It was perfect – as it later turned out.

After having a breakfast began the walk. It was magnificent. One could invariably be reminded of ‘far from the maddening crowd’ and the feeling that for the next couple of days I could dedicate my life to my own self was too overwhelming. The breath of fresh air and clean open environment was a harsh reminder of the fact that life in the city, in most ways, had very little to offer even though one always harped about ‘development’. I walked watching hundreds of trekkers pass by, some en route and some on their way back, who hardly failed to say ‘Namaste’ once the distance got closer. And with each group of trekkers were a group of porters who walked almost silently carrying huge luggage on a doko. One could only imagine the strength of their shoulders and the neck for often times the sheer size of it all appeared almost too much to carry even for a taxi back in the city.

For a moment, and I must admit it, it just did not feel nice. While the tourists walked around savoring the beauty of the hills and the air, along walked a group of people who as if had no right to enjoy the place they were so fortunate to have been born. To cut it short I just felt as if I was being an audience to modern day slavery. But then, I am sure what you are thinking, this was something that gave us our means to livelihood and the whole thing was not by design but by our own doing. If only we were not this poor – that was precisely the feeling that I had in me then. I walked on.

We rested for a night in a place called Phakding which rested along on the bank of one of the tributaries of ‘sapta-koshi’. There were a couple of Australian couples, a retired army general from Indian army with his grandchildren and a group of Slovak students at the big dinner table in the restaurant of the hotel. We all had managed to introduce each other while we all waited for dinner sipping 400 rupees per bottle beers.
And as we got to know each other better, soon everyone began sharing their travel experiences which seemed to cover almost two thirds of the globe. And the funny part of the whole conversation, well at least to me it appeared funny, was that except for four of us Nepalese in that room everyone had already been to this place before. The Australians, as they told us, have been here almost six times and they had succeeded in bringing 25-30 people residing in the suburban area of Perth over the last twelve years. It was almost as if the realization dawned upon us that Himalaya is not just some numerical value of 8848. And while Jim began explaining the trail over the spread out map on the table, we realized two things. Nepal is not just the two ends of Mahendra highway and there was much more to know about this country.

Next morning we walked up to Namche bazar. The place somehow took me by surprise for I had this picture in my mind that Namche lay atop a hill from where you could see Everest. Rather it lay on the slopes of a hill like almost like a baby in a mother’s cuddle. A heavy duty meal and a light snap, we readied ourselves for a walk in the trail encircling the Namche. After couple of hours we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to, the Khumjung village.

The village of Khumjung nestled in the lap of divine Khumbila Mountain, as I learned, was also referred as Edmund village. The village with its picturesque settings was perfect, to say the least. As my colleague travelling put it, if any Nepali were to be directly air dropped in this particular village and were told that this was one particular place in Switzerland, chances were there that the person would tend to think along the same lines. It had almost everything that any human habitat would look for. One had to, almost forcibly, take a pause and think for a moment that here was a place completely inaccessible by roads and yet had each and everything that one could think of vis-à-vis development. And yet there are n numbers of places in the country accessible through every possible means (highways/airports) and yet life continues at its basic minimum. There was a lesson to be learnt although I am not sure what exactly. ‘Commitment’, for one, seemed to cross my mind.

By the time we returned back to hotel in Namche it was almost pitch dark. The day had certainly been an eye opener in many ways. With a plan of sipping our morning coffee at the Everest View hotel, we all headed to our respective $10 / night rooms.

The thirty six hours experience had already turned out be the one to carry along for a long time. Also begging was a prospect of even more exciting tomorrow.

Unedited version of the article published in the Sunday edition of the Kathmandu Post, 29th June.

Walk in the Mountains was last modified: July 2nd, 2008 by Hitesh Karki
 

Blog Comments

  1. Bikash

    Hitesh, great writing as always dude…I got immersed into it….wish it didn’t end so fast……you rock.keep it up.

  2. PrashanataFan

    prashanta said during sometime Hitesh started writing in Magazines, KTM Post and other books since his early chilhood. Hitesh, we respect you for this great coverage of the minute events and Vishnu for elaborating such graceful acts of the hosts.

  3. bishwa

    yes Vishnu dai… this is what culture is about. I bet there are thousands of people who have lost their decency just because they have tasted the sweetness of money… I think Mrs. Pemba did this because they considered you all as friends, as guests … not just because she was the wife there.. and of course there were the waiters, but she did it herself… such respect and hospitality… that’s what our culture teaches us… i hope that we don’t forget it

    Cheers!!

  4. Lava Kafle

    Terrific experience Vishnu dai, Hospitality has its limit and bounds. They are boundless. may god always help them and bless them. What a simplicity? Thanks a lot for sharing the moments in this reminiscence.

  5. Vishnu

    Yes Hitesh you have put here your observation of the journey in Khumbu region in a fascinating way. Appreciate it.
    If I may, I love to add small portion of my experience along with your gradient one: On the way back from EBase Camp the last night of that period on May 17, 08, we resided at Khumbu Lodge. We three of us I, Nishchal and Aashish took sizzler for dinner. As soon as we finished our business with those hot plates, Mrs. Pemba (wife of Mr. Pemba, owner of Khumbu lodge and many others business associating with_Krorepati) came towards our table in a obedient and soliciting manner and cleaned up our table-in the presence of 3 or 4 other waiters.
    This made my head spin as our belly twirls when we ride roller-coaster and I felt down the drain.
    For the first time in my life some crorepati had cleaned up my dinner table inside Nepalese culture-and this probably will be last one. I shall always be remembering your imperial service, teachings and above all showing us the decency of works! Thanking you – Mrs. Pemba!!!

  6. Prashanta

    Great presentation. I too liked the para…if only we were not this poor. We were not always this poor. Nepal as whole used to be a very rich place. But we were robbed time and again by a dynasty that started when Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the now Ktm. Now we have to regroup and rebuild this wonderful nation again.

  7. Lava Kafle

    Hitesh, it is simply another superb piece of fine art, prose, poetry, and creativity that summarizes each characters of Play in detail showing their good instances. We used to see your previous articles and listened about many of them, but, Please , keep this article in microchips in some secure location for future generation to assess its value. Honestly, it changes the way people look around things and environment. Fantastic use of words, great choice of syllables and finest display of memorable moments as if live.
    It shows how bloggers are: so few comments for best masterpiece, but writing full-blown whistle where unnecessary.
    Never mind, the article’s value is limitless.
    If I were you, I would try this in CNN or BBC websites.

  8. Dhiraj

    Excellent piece of writing… Sensational… exactly no word to express how happy I am after reading this writing of yours…. what a way to express your experience!!! Cheers dai!!!

  9. bishwa

    “along walked a group of people who as if had no right to enjoy the place they were so fortunate to have been born” – Yes, yes, if we were not that poor!!!

    “And the funny part of the whole conversation, well at least to me it appeared funny, was that except for four of us Nepalese in that room everyone had already been to this place before” – i can’t find a single thing that i did here to boast myself as being a Nepali…

    Great travelogue Hitesh dai. It starts with the observation of an incident which is a little funny, a little ironic… and you set out on a journey to the unfamiliarity of a familiar land…and the exciting tomorrow…???

Post Your Comments:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *