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Nepalese Notebook: September 11th, 2014

September 11th, 2014

Soti Khola 700m.

Kindness is without a voice and lives in quiet places, and when it is secluded, it is wide-eyed, rugged, and delicate.  We have come to the end of the gravel road that leads from Arughat; behind us lies an unstable bridge and before us a deep gorge with a new bridge spanning its edges.  The donkey caravans pass through, however, loaded with bags of unknowable merchandise for Tibet, and this turns out to be somewhat of a comfort as we sit on the porch of our guest-house and watch them.  The family that owns this place consists of a grandfather and grandmother, their two daughters, one child and one baby, the baby and the child being so well cared for that I could not tell to which daughter they belonged.  Sometimes we want so much to experience something that we forget to be genuine, and it almost seemed in vain to compliment our hosts for their cooking or their care because of how uninhibited they were amongst themselves.  The grandmother carlessly…
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Nepalese Notebook: September 10th, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Arughat Bazar 608m

3 hours of muddy road in a pick-up have brought us to our starting point on the banks of the Budhi Gandanki.  We passed buses stuck in ruts the length of a man's leg and watched as the drivers tried to dig their way out, some rocking the bus from one side to the other, others pointing down to the hole and calling out orders, while all the passengers stood alongside, jumping on the moment the bus seemed to free itself, but then hopping back off once they saw it was going nowhere.  Only once or twice did these buses actually block our passage, the rest of the time we drove right by on the edges of the mountain track.
Arughat is the most isolated town I have been to, but it has not the sort of magic and mystery one would expect from such a place.  The street that leads into and out of town, as if it were made from just misplaced rocks, is lined with mountain gear shops, ration stores, and tea-houses; there are no visible Buddhist temples and all…

Nepalese Notebook: September 9th, 2014

September 9th, 2014

A short walk yesterday evening took us through grassland and along the river Rapti.  When we had proceeded far enough from the habitations, we were met by a black rhino not but 20 meters away, swishing his tail in a rather annoyed manner until he lumbered off to a tiny mud pit into which he sank up to his belly.   There are no boundaries in the jungle and the cries of monkeys in the tops of trees or the crocodiles that distractingly appear and disappear only a few meters away as you float down the river in a dugout, fill the gaze with a very shallow alertness that seems to focus on everything but what one is trying to focus on.  At times, our guide stood up in the canoe to point out a type of kingfisher; at others, he remained seated to let a crocodile pass, but that did not prevent some villagers from cutting fodder along the banks or casting out a net to fish.  The whole scene, instead of being impregnated with simplistic beauty, was out of place, nothing truly r…

Nepalese Notebook: September 8th, 2014

September 8th, 2014

Chitwan

Chitwan: the Nepalese Terai, the land of the Tharu.  These are the lowlands of the Himalaya, a vast jungle filled with rhinos, tigers, and crocodiles, interspersed with the irrigated fields of the natives.  From Kathmandu it is a 5 hours bus ride along narrow and sometimes precipitous roads in which the drivers take every advantage of passing one another regardless of blind curves or the stories of overturned buses only days before.  And yet the driving is not reckless; for when you see your driver passing another bus without any hope of gauging a head-on collision, you are able to find in his unshakeability a small comfort, knowing that the danger he has put you in, he may now save you from, as he swerves back with amazing dexterity only seconds before another bus would have brought upon your ruin. This is only one of the shocks though; the city of Kathmandu itself holds more than one could ever imagine; danger becomes no more than an inability to understan…

A Poet's Journal: August 25th, 2014

August 25th, 2014


The early fall of chestnuts and hazelnuts before the blackberries have turned ripe....  Even in the midst of solitude, surrounded by forest and mountain, time is our greatest constraint.  The further we walk the longer is the return and the wrong path means a wasted day.  It is not that we are burdened by our everyday affairs when doing other things, but that we are guided under a different mask to the same duration.  I walk in the woods as I walk in the street and only take note of trees as if they were passing cars.  The one has not polluted the other, but the source of the pollution is unified through me, and until that habit is broken, everything will always be the same.
Douglas Thornton