Monday, 17 April 2017

#19 The epiphany on the bus

Occasionally, when we least expect it, we are presented with a sudden moment of clarity that makes so much sense you are left wondering why it took you so long to figure it out.

One such moment occured to me as I was bumping along the road from Bhakatapur to Nagarkot on a local bus. I was squeezed in beside the gear stick and three married women dressed in bright red sarees and sparkling gold jewellery with my back to the road.

At first I tried to position myself so I could see the bumps in the road coming and hold on before we hit them but after a while I decided it was easier to sit normally and face the back of the bus. It was then I realised that because I didn't know what bumps were coming I was having a much easier time handling them and was no longer in any danger of ending up in the red saree women's laps.

It occurred to me this was really a metaphor for life. If we learn to adapt to the bumps in the road, life becomes a lot easier to manage. If we are constantly trying to change ourselves to suit what might happen then we will have a much more uncomfortable ride.

If I come away from Nepal having learnt only one thing it will be that you must make do with what you are given and Nepali people are a living example of that bumpy roads and all.

Earlier that morning we had another bizarre experience in Bhaktapur that probably wouldn't make the guide books.

The previous day our guide, Roshan, told us where they sacrifice the buffalo early each morning and butcher them for meat. Being the curious cats that we are we decided to get up at 5am and try to catch a glimpse of this bloody spectacle.

By the time we had dragged ourselves out of bed the buffalo were very much dead and the butcher was in the process of skinning and carving one to be sold at the market. Two other dead buffalo were being covered in straw which was then set on fire to do something to the skin. CGAG, being the artist and photographer that she is, just couldn't get enough. I was done after a few quick snaps. So I endured being chatted up by the youngest butcher who wanted my number and to show me around and for me to cancel my trip to Thailand and come stay with him etc etc. CGAG was so caught up in her photographs that she was completely oblivious to the awkward situation I was in. Finally she was ready to go. Four missed calls from my potential future Nepali husband later and I was ready to get out of Bhaktapur.

My backpack was tossed onto the roof of the local bus to Nagarkot, the place everyone goes to see a glimpse of Everest, and I squeezed myself in next to the gear box unsure exactly how long I was destined to be perched there next to the three married women wearing the red sarees.

I tried to practise my Nepali with one of the ladies in red and her face lit up despite my terrible attempts. She proceeded to let loose a stream of Nepali none of which I could understand so I was forced to resort to my most favourite phrase.

"Ma Nepali ali ali Bolchu" - I speak a little Nepali with emphasis on the little.

I'm always mildly surprised when the person I'm conversing with answers in Nepali. Speaking it is one thing. Understanding it enough to answer is another.

I managed to communicate that I was going to Nagarkot to watch the sunrise and ask if it was a beautiful place. She said yes it was very beautiful "Dherai ramro cha."

Then she asked where I was from and I told her New Zealand. Unfortunately that was as far as our conversation could go. I was still pretty pleased with our efforts.

CGAG had gone to Kathmandu with the French guy who was flying home and she was going to see a Sharman who was hanging out by the largest stupa in Boudha so we went our separate ways for a bit.

She joined me in Nagarkot later that evening and we spent a pleasant few hours at a beautifully rustic rooftop resturant pondering life and trying the local 'wine' which is basically just moonshine made from rice. It was incredibly strong and we couldn't even drink half a glass.

The lovely attentive owner of the resturant sat with us to chat and ensure we had enough dal bhat. He also organised a taxi to take us in the morning to see the sunrise at the viewing tower which is where, if you're lucky, you can catch your glimpse of Mount Everest.

So at 4.30am the next morning we woke up and questioned our sanity.

"Why do we keep doing this to ourselves" we grumbled for exactly six minutes until the next more urgent alarm went off and we dragged ourselves out of bed.

The view was a little disappointing as it was quite cloudy. We couldn't see Everest but we could look at the spot where it was supposed to be and the sunrise was pretty alright.

With that my break from Kirtipur came to an end and my sinuses were being strange. My own diagnosis was either the beginning of a cold or too much pollution. When I blew my nose it was black and I had an annoying tickly and persistent cough. I spent the rest of the day in bed writing and eating chocolate. Bliss.

As this trip doesn't have any fixed plans I took a day off just like I would at home. Nagarkot is not going anywhere. Rest days are an important part of the journey. After all this is a working adventure and I need time to write!

Sunrise from Nagarkot viewing tower

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