Kathmandu – Durbar square
the courting couples tuck themselves away around the corner of each temple
The roof supports for each of the pagodas are lewdly carved in the evocative postures of the kama sutra, they wink, wink, nudge, oogle down encouragingly on the youngsters
for some reason i have the squeeze song ‘pulling muscles from a shell’ revolving about my noggin. ha
Nearby there is a shrine with a banyan tree growing straight out of it, the Banyan, so fully grown now, that the shrine is near shattered
There is some palaver at the Royal Palace, into earshot comes that dreadful Tibetan Din!
A mish mash of drums and cymbals, with the occasional ominous bellow of horns, a real awful oompa pa pah rumpus…. oh and ornamental umbrellas … as along comes the procession, no clue what it is about, but, pleasantly, involves a lot of colourful parasols, everybody is done up to the nines in traditional garb, solemn but smiley
I always used to travel with one of those brollies on a spring, georgii markov, push the button and out it zonks, very business man james bond, ‘cept mine was green and red.
i went up mount sinaii with it up, in the desert it doubled as a very useful parasol!
the bus ride to Pokhara
peering out the window, the road sweepers use reed brushes to sweep the dust from the pavement to the road, then pleasingly from the road bact to the pavement, cyclically karmic
the rivers are just clogged up with rubbish, plastic just never goes away.
I’m playing my mp3 player, the songs on it are just the ones i borrowed from the library before the cd drive on our old computer packed up. Mostly world music and folk, but also even Stephen Fry, reading a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I tried to get some more music from my brov, the day before i left i popped down to see him in his office at the Marina, it’s in one of those little yellow and white sheds, on a pontoon, right out amongst the yachts. When the waves are up, and the tide a swell, the entire office bobs up and down in a queasy fashion!
The problem being that my cheapo, 34 squid mp3 player, dang near bust my brothers posh mac! ooops that would have been a disaster, all his Scott of the Antartic scripts lorst in the Antartic wilderness!
I have decided that as i have 628 songs i may just as well play them all once through consecutively, then again. mostly because i cannae be arsed learning how the pesky thing works, but also pleasantly passive and once more round and round karmic wheel of life. giddy. is 628 a lucky buddhist number? hope so
another bus passes us, beep, beep, honkety honk, this one is called the ‘open heart bus company’, ha, reckon i’d like to be on that bus!
i’ve worked out why theres just so much horn parping, the trucks, all crudely cartoon painted with shiva, buddha or some other useful road demons god, also have a big ‘please honk’ on their derriere
The system is when you wish to overtake you honk, the truck checks whether it’s clear, honks to say it is, you overtake, honk your thanks, then the truck driver honks once more, well just because he can! Generally this works well, ‘cept our driver, like most, seems to reckon it’s a good idea to overtake, uphill, with a fully laden bus, wellying the acellerator, is a bit like flogging a dead horse. we slow motion skiddaddle by, emotion blurr
Natch it’s always a blind bend and a steep plummet away to the bottom of the valley. Fun really, hair pin bends give a great view to the plush green countryside. terraces, they are kind of visible contour lines?
A stroll to the peace pagoda in pokhara
The first step is to hire a rowboat from down by the ghat, my ‘driver’ is a young burly water boatman, a cheery fellow, he enquires if i wish to have a row, nah think i’ll conserve my strength for the hike, so instead i dandle my hand in the cool water, feeling the pull and plunge of the cool water at our passing, lolling about like the lady of shallot!
It’s a big old, deep lake, on a clear day the entire Annapurna range reflected in it’s placid depths.
I’m not a huge fan of lakes, like in the Auden Poem (“praise of Limestone’?) i feel that the spirits and demons of lakes are spiteful and capricious, like the swiss really!!
I wonder if theres a Loch Ness Monster in here? Asleep if she is… Nessum Dorma?
Gone Fishing? Yetti Netty Nessy?
… Anyway, there really is a tiger in the hills hereabouts, i’ve now heard so from at least 3 people, one dog i met, a sturdy mastiff, as they mostly seem to be, was called tiger, the reason being that his mother had been taken by the tiger.
apparently they have quite a taste for dog meat, so, not safe at all to go roaming with your trusty hound!
the Tigers make some sound, a strangled screech, which is neither a cough, nor a roar.
Once to the other side of the lake, it’s a steep steep climb up to the pagoda (nothing compared to the hills to come!), not much there, but the walk back down through the forest is a delight, all glades and dappled sunlight. dragonflies hover and bathe in the sunshine, then zzzip away to the next patch of light.Butterflies meanwhile, oh gaudy melodrama, they erratic flap, then tragic flop. lovely colours!
Somewhere down below the path a couple of water buffalo burly rustle through the undergrowth. For some reason i am reminded of Obelix and his wild boar.
Birds tweet tootfully in the canopy, near invisible but to all but the most resolute Bill Oddie, not quite sure how, the one i spotted had a red breast and was much like a bull finch but brighter!
I stop at one place and all ’tis mellow, it’s like a spirit point, i just visualise, in turn all the people i love and see what happens. I’ve been doing it a lot this holiday, the best times are like now out amongst nature, else when transfixed in front of one of the shrines, or failing that in the time when your mind is calm and you are just slipping away to sleep. Something about the brain wave patterns? Any roads, if you just empty your heart, it is amazing how beautiful the things are that come to fill it. Hope the people i’m sending too can in some way feel it? Hope also you know who you are. keep safe. Spirit peace. Love
getting ready for my trek, i relaxed with a day in which my mission was to mostly further grow my beard! It’s coming on well. bushy Grizzly Adams, with a lot of grey!
oh and i also had to buy 2 hats, you can do anything with 2 hats, one was a daytime sun hat, plain and beige, with a big floppy brim, to keep the suns rays off my noggin. halfway twixt a pilgrims hat and a cowboy hat, slightly too small, so i had to ram it down over my dreads.
Hmm now i’m remembering when i used to go swimming in Prince Regents at Brighton, lengths, making a wake, up and down, splish splash, to and fro. toiling nowhere. My swim hat was one of those rubbery plastic ones, green, i had to really pull and polythene stretch it over my head. My bunched up dreads bulged out beneath it, it looked liek a giant brain tumour… or maybe an extra from Star Trek
accch now i’m remembering my swim hat at the hot springs pool in Karlovy vary, Czech Republic, we all poodled about amidst the primeval steam, swim hats, beflowered and smartie bright colours. very beautiful!
Oh and the other hat i managed to buy, back in the here, was a pink and purple big knit wooly number, perfect for keeping my ears toasty at night, up above the snow line.
It’s got tassels. result!
Much to my own suprise, I also purchased a Down sleeping bag and a big thick down jacket in dark green, which i like very much. stylish and very puff pastry
I was only going to rent them for the trek, but a bargain at under 30 pounds for the pair, prob being now, to get them home, i’ll have to lug them all through the swelter bucket tropics. rats!
i have never mastered the ethos of travelling light, a naturally cluttered and burdened personality.
I shall be bowed ‘neath the weight of me own belongings
mini the minimalist
well I know i need to gabble on about the trek, but it’s a big thing, so i’ll just tread water with a waffle about the people, friends i made in Pokhara, so far my diary spew has been a bit short of people!
My best mate so far has been Coz, he’s been a total superstar and literally a lifesave. cheers buddy. When i had those 7 nights on the trek when i didn’t bump into anybody, the only thing that salvaged my sanity was that getting back to pokhara, i knew he’d be there for a beer and a gossip.
I met him straight off the plane in kathmandu, in the visa hall, whilst we were both puzzling through the bureaucracy.
He’d been on my plane all the way from London, but i didn’t notice him till Bahrain. apparently i aimlessly bumbled up to the departure gate. ha. but that was because, of all places, i had a mystical experience, feeling, revelation in the airport there! really powerful
We were united by fancying the Dutch women, but as there were 5 of them and beautiful, they were near impossible to approach.
Coz gave me a lift into town and we stayed in the Hotel Excelsior. His room had no hot water, wheras mine always did, a bit culture shocked we both went out drinking together the first couple of nights in Kathmandu.
He was over here to be a volunteer and was off to Pokhara to help the kids in an orphanage, he had a big passion for sports and had bought a huge kit bag full of footballs and cricket gear to entertain the little ones with.
Lifestyle wise you’d think we had little in common, his favourite topic of conversation was filth and smut. as a country boy, from Warminster (Stone henge, longleat way, off the A303!) he also had a passion for guns and broadly speaking blasting small animals to buggery kingdom come.
He loved boxing and had spent his childhood in trouble fighting, left school with 2 gcse’s at 16, a lifelong spurs fan, a substance abuser, a potential suicide
His dad was in the SAS and afterwards had a stab making Wiltshire amateur porn videos.
Coz is tho’ a quality geezer, really good bloke, always with an interesting tale or too, and yet ever interested to listen to whatever tale i was telling.
he’d learnt a lot from the free party scene around where he grew up in the ’90’s and was a big fan of dj’ing and the hip hop vibe, into his mushies and hash.. oh and his mum was a mystic horoscope type.
Quite a contrasting individual.
His life had though just fallen apart spectacularly, even more dramatically than mine
He’d been going out with Anna, a cop for 5 years, they had a house together and he worked as a computer programmer, fair set for a placid middle age.
Then she’d dumped him, he went off the rails, crashed a car whilst drunk in the woods, lost his licence, lost his job, his mod security clearance. Had to go to therapy for various substance abuse and then come out here as a volunteer!
In reality he seemed completely, utterly sane.
After hanging out in Kathmandu, we then met up again when i got to Pokhara, he’d got friendly with another volunteer Kelly from oz (more on her later, i hope) and also with Prasang, a sweet, quite western Tibetan fellow, Prasang looked a bit like Tin Tin and supported Manchester United.
No room at the orphanage, so Coz had just started teaching at ‘Mother of Compassion’ Tibetan school. Apparently on the first day he’d been warned by the head lama (who built the school), the head teacher and the volunteer supervisor, that under no circumstances was he to sleep with any of the female teachers. Obviously a big cultural No No!
One of the female nepalli teachers was always coming on to him, but not a good idea, they would have chopped his todger off!
On his first day Coz had used all the balloons he’d bought over and the other props and after that just had to wing it!
Coz would say that the tibetans are like jews at the end of the Nineteenth century, in a way there are similarities, the Tibetan community are keen not to integrate, they all live in various large refugee camps (4 around pokhara) and are keen to preserve their culture.
theocratic in outlook, this is coming under threat from western influence, gangs and related problems are starting in the camps. Tibetans are also quite remarkably good at making money and also at generating quite a lot of funds from western donors. On the whole there a grand bunch with a mischievious humour
One day after I’d come back from trekking his school was having it’s annual concert. all teh kids from his classes had been practicing their dancing and singing for months! The concert was in the town hall and was in an exposition of Mustang culture (the Tibetans in the school were all from the Mustang province), there was quite a big police presence as Nepal has forbidden Tibetans to gather in numbers, except for cultural events like these.
Coz and Kelly were worried that the event might be like the party for Losar, the Tibetan New year, from a few days before apparently 10 hours of turgid dancing and Dahl Bhatt, culminating in the fabled yak dance, which was 2 blokes in a pantomime horse costume!
This concert got off to a slow start, the crown prince of mustang was there, so he had to be thanked 12 times, then the chief donors of the school, an elderly, wealthy swiss couple had to be thanked and presented with the largest Rosettes on the planet.
then the school Lama made a very serious speech, another made a speech, these were obviously quite political in nature, i was reminded of the political seriousness i encountered when i first went to live in Prague.
The place was packed out, crammed to teh rafters, the entire Tibetan community was out, on the whole a dowdy and poor bunch, yet all in high humour, kids spilling out of every seat, folk hanging off the balcony above. Flicking peanuts at each other and us (and Kelly claims in one case bogies!) A big social event all round.
finally the music started, on the whole it was brilliant.
The main performer was Ani Cheung, a Tibetan Nun, she had obviously lived some years in Canada and sung these tibetan chants and ballards, she had a phenommenal voice, the songs i loved were the acapello buddhist chants, one of them sent me into a trance, visualising once more the folk i love, the songs i wasn’t so keen on were any of those with a musical accompaniment, all came over as a bit twee!
Next act up were Shambala, a rock band with a funky tibetan instrument slant, all of their songs started interestingly, then seemingly went nowhere! Most of the problem were the audience, they all listened in respectful silence, but not an infectious bunch prone to head nodding and leaping uncontrollably about!
For a while i was standing by the side of the stage and was very tempted to do a bit of stage diving or a Talking Heads ‘Stop making Sense’ style boogie. Felt i should be respectful too, just for once.
when the kids came on though, a totally different atmosphere, whooping and hollering, everyone was related to one of them in some way!
The boys, as is the way of teenagers seemed so much younger than the girls, the boys all wore furry hats and had painted on tashes and beards, the girls, no beards, but beautiful traditional garb
All of them had these long, long sleeves, which they wafted in the air chinese silk ribbon style
some of it was quite mustang region line dancing, but on the whole it was just great, everyone loved it!
My favourite bit was when one of the boys fell over and lay on the floor for 3 minutes, one of his mates went over to help him up, very sweet, everybody cheered.
Apparently the boy who made the pratt fall is both the class clown and quite camp, apparently he fell over whilst playing heads and volleys and lay there writhing and clutching his groin for 5 minutes, telling everyone, that he’d ‘twisted his pen’ ha. now theres a euphemism
his nickname is ‘Prime Minister of the Donkeys’, as apparently he admitted to riding a Donkey once, this caused great hilarity amongst the Tibetans, Mustang men they are proud of their horse manship and their famous steeeds.
ooops me times up, it was agreat concert and a good day out, back to moondance for our supper afterwards!