Monday, September 10, 2007

The Face of Nepal

Travel is made up of two vital elements - its surroundings and its people. So often on the road, we take so many pictures of our surroundings - the beautiful temple, the majestic sunset, the iconic statue. And in this, we neglect, we fail to appreciate, the other side of the coin - its people: the eccentric and the wise, the locals and fellow travellers, the random encounters with those people that you want to strangle. So it is without any further undo, that I present to you the other side of Nepal - the side without the picturesque Himalayas, the Newari temples, and the sunsets. The face of Nepal.

Introducing Naomi - an American Japanese lady I hung out with whilst in Lumbini - the birthplace of the Buddha. Naomi was one of those New Age "hippies" we all hear about - she talked about "destiny", "crystals", "energies", and things of that nature. And although at first, I was a bit freaked out by all, it was interesting to meet someone whose reality was so far away from mine. Refreshing to hang around someone who wasn't motivated by goals and success, but by "the universe"....whatever that means. Oh yeah- it was nice to speak "Engrlish" with her - the kind of language only half-castes understand.

Two locals lads I hung out with in Kathmandu. We played pool together, drank Everest Beer, watched Indian Idol and discussed Nepal politics. They introduced me to the famous Dhal Bhat - the stable dish of Nepalese, consisting of rice, picked veggies and soup-like substance. Tasty. Cool lads.

A local Hindi priest (well I think) who was staring at me for ages. I took a photo of him.

A local trekker named Grura (maybe I spelt that wrong?) who took me around Pokara for few days. We went kayaking together, did a hike, rode around on his motorbikes, took me to this random local festival, got lost in this bat cave, introduced me to all his local buddies....and on and on. At first I was a bit awary (did he want money for all this tour-guiding?), but he soon made his intentions clear - an unemployed trekker who was bored and simply wanted to show a tourist around. I offered him some cash, but he refused.

A rickshaw driver from Nepal who embodied the notion of persistence.

(Do you want to go here? Very cheap, Very cheap, I am poor man, you are rich tourist, please understand me situation.)

Someone of such calibre deserved to be a target of my amateur photography.

Tibetan refugee. Perhaps the best sales people I have ever encountered. She got me like a fishing reel. First, she appealed to my Tibetan sympathies (my poor country - Chinese very bad); then proceeded to talk about Australia (appealed to my interests); then camouflaged as a casual gesture, asked if I wanted to look at her jewellery. I couldn't resist - I had to buy something, even if I would never wear it. It was only afterwards did I appreciate her magic. Sometimes, it is aint bad to be conned.

And although I could put up more faces, I'll leave it at that. In other news, in Agra - home of the Taj Mahal. She was looking incredible this morning. I have been suffering from, what I describe, as "travel-burn-out" - a sickness who symptoms include: indifference to all your beautiful surroundings, a permanent lethargy, a yearning for home and all its comforts. Perhaps it was inevitable after 5 months on the road, 9 months away from home, that this would happen sooner or later. Not really too concerned at the moment; I'll try to persist - the opportunity to see India doesn't happen often - see how I feel in a couple of weeks.


1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Hey! Well... couldnt help but noticing... these two locals from Kathmandu.... do I , or do I NOT... spot the reception of NANA in the background ?????? hahahahahaha!!! home dear home...