A Note from Joe: The Nepal Chronicles, Chapter Two
You can start reading about Joe’s journey to Nepal in his introduction to this series.
Landed, a brilliant flight in, mountains and rice fields, dirt roads and motorbikes. Through immigration, visa bought, and I am officially of the caste of Joseph. Six suitcases, three backpacks later, and we are rolling across the parking lot like true yanks. There to meet us amongst the thousands of drivers and porters are our two fine men.
Namaste and holy, that’s a lot of bags! We throw the first behemoth bag in and as it clatters to the floor of the van a cloud of dust bigger than Hiroshima forms and rises. All loaded up and our 1960 Toyota fired up on the third try. It is time.
Driving in Nepal, or in this case being a front seat passenger in Kathmandu, is a bit like being a character in a Kurt Vonnegut novel while taking acid at the same time. Insane, nuts, certifiable, and crazy all in one. We bounce our way out of the airport and toward the city. We stop at the only traffic light in a city of 3-million and wait our turn.
There are 28-million people in Nepal and 26.5-million of them are on a motorbike beside us going to Patan Square! The other 1.5-million are all on the back of the same Suzuki 125 going the same way. We land in the parking spot like a jumbo 747 parking in a matchbox. We grab our six cases and three backpacks and start carrying after our smiling driver. To my shock and horror, I am run over by 3 cars, 6 motorbikes, 50 bicycles, 17 people, 4 dogs, and a chicken on the way to the room.
We meet Prim, our Swedish landlord with a Nepali name. He proceeds to give us a house tour. Ceilings 5-foot tall speak of a previous history and time. Aidan slaps his head four times in four minutes like he is following his own personal Mandela. Each is greeted by a loud calling, his sound of meditation, and a big belly laugh his sound of enlightenment!
We place our bags in the rooms and see coming through the door our Nepali guide from Silver Spring, Brooke Laura. We are instantly happy at seeing Brooke, without whom we probably would not have made it to Nepal. We talk and catch up and then head into the city.
We walk to Dobar Square and doing so it starts to reinforce the gentle and beautiful rhytyms of the city. Sitting in the square at the top of a temple looking at the local lads sing songs session style, we have smiles plastered on our faces. Kathmandu and Nepal are already stealing our hearts.
I wrote a poem starting in Mumbai airport and finished on the plane into Kathmandu.
Faces all raised and looking
Watching TV through hollow eyes
Returning home from years away
Tired, spent and empty
Nike shoes and socks
Commercial world taken over
Well spent well used
Last leg still ahead.
Blue sky white horizon
Banking right to ride the ridge
Spirits up and life back
Nervous chatter of an immigrants return
All men all different
Some to visit some to stay
Carrying with them life’s story
Outcome predetermined yet uncertain
Chapter 3 coming soon!