Bliss at Sathimure

October 31, 2018.

You have been climbing for three hours. Every pore of your skin is sweating. Your legs are tired. Your head is spinning. You are still conscious of not slipping down the narrow foot trail. There are small round seeds that have fallen off the tress beside the trail. They threaten your existence. The peak is just “there” but you can’t seem to reach it. The peak is just at an elevation of thousand metres, and it takes your breath away. “What if it was Mount Everest?” you ask.

One of your friends, Anish, climbed a five-thousand metre peak last year, above the Everest Base Camp. “It was cold. I felt my fingers would fall off. But once I reached the peak, I forgot all the pain.”

‘This is not even a tenth of the harshness of close to the Everest’, you think. Your spirit lifts up a little. Legs drag you up better than they had a couple of minutes back. But your lungs are not helping. Your low stamina hampers your movement.Luckily, your friends are in your support. They themselves are tired, but they do not lose the hope of reaching the peak. The hope of finding the target village-Sathimure.

***

Your climb began from Mugling—an old hub connecting Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan with three of your friends: Anil, Anish and Ishwor. The town is at the altitude of about 180 m from the mean sea level,well-developed, full of life. Your twenty-eight years old topographic map shows a foot-trail leading to the village in question. The policemen show you a road. It looks easy, but it’s long. ‘How long will you have to walk?’ you discuss with your friends. You and your friends decide to take a foot trail if possible.

You are not hiking. It’s a geological exploration. You measure the rock orientation, wonder at the folds you see and imagine the amount of stress the region might have undergone. You know these rocks tell the history of the evolution of the Himalayas over a million years. These mountains are not as tall as the mighty mountain peaks that are popular as the Himalayas or Great Himalayas. You call them Lesser Himalaya, but reaching its peak is tough. More so, when you realize you have to climb up another two hundred metres and climb down to Kalikhola if you are to make an accurate geological map. But you lack time, and you make a rush.

You realize your stamina has lowered because of eating and sleeping for the last couple of months. You are panting. You take long breaths. Nothing helps. You have not walked a mile and you have felt the heat. You strip off your jacket. Your body balances heat by sweating. You reach a shade. The sweat cools you. After a rest, you don’t want to move. Yet you carry your legs forward. “Return back if you can’t,” your friends suggest. It’s a good advice. One person should not slow the group. Yet your ego gets hurt. You can’t give up before it has begun.

You ask help from the locals. Most of them are girls. Some help, some don’t. It’s a cultural thing. Villagers don’t trust city men. Girls are told to shy away from men in most of the occasions. Male-female interaction is still spied in the cities. Anyway, you find help and catch a foot-trail, width decreasing with each footstep.

You don’t find villages along the trail. One house at an interval of about one-hundred metres climb. They have farms and gardens. You and your friends express desire to reach Kalikhola. The locals say it’s a dangerous path. Three people died some months back. You and your friends are scared. Safety comes before the map. Your teachers did not expect you to go all the way. You give up the thought of completing the track. Had you been allowed to stay for a day at Sathimure, you could have hit the target. But you have restrictions. You decide to reach the village, at least.

A garden somewhere in the route

***

“Look out for the real trail,” Anish calls. Foot-trail has forked. Each time you saw a fork, you made a unanimous decision: “Take the route that goes up.” This time, the up-going trail looks dangerous. Ishwor says the other path goes nowhere. “Are we stuck?” you fear. Anil goes up the dangerous route, reaches the peak and calls out. You follow. The ground is slippery and covered with grass. You don’t know where you are stepping. “Goats would not climb this,” your friends behind you tell. You are attacked by ants.One last step. And you reach the top. You lose yourself for a moment. At that moment, you have become victorious over the mountain. You feel blessed.

A little farther, you see what you had been longing for. Sathimure. A small village. A place where you have found solace in it even from the distance. Bamboos, oranges, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables. A farming village. That’s what you wanted all day.

The village has less than twenty houses—small, all of them painted in blue and red. The people are amicable. Your group wants to buy some oranges. They don’t fix a price. “Give whatever amount you want to give.” These people have hardships. There is some help from the NGOs but the nearest town, Mugling, is miles downhill. There is no good road. They have to buy everything.Yet, they are generous. They don’t take our offer for granted. They believe in emotional relationship, not commercial. They give you noodles. You longed for it but can’t help wonder that noodles have made way into even in a village that small.You eat anyway. The taste reminds you of home.

***

You begin to descent. There was an error in the map. You have decided to correct it. Sitting upon a ground facing north, you look at the Great Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the miniature town of Mugling. You can’t see a human from that height. You feel lost. “Humans might have built civilizations and have dreamt of exploring other planets but we are microscopic in the universe. If a portion of the Earth is this big, how big the Earth is! And it is not even the largest planet.” The extent of universe amazes you. It’s not for the first time, though. The universe has always fascinated you. Geology was one way you thought that would help you understand the universe.

Mugling viewed from Sathimure

The walk downhill takes two hours. The villagers at Sathimure had told it would take about forty-five minutes. “Time is relative,” you begin to understand. They have lived their whole lives going up and down the hill. Their legs have strengths your legs do not. They are faster because they have lived with the mountain. You see school children going up and get a stronger proof.

When the journey ends, you are satisfied. You might not have met all your goals but you made memories. You have learnt something. You have something to tell others. You have stories for your children and grandchildren.

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The Loud Midnight Birthday Party

1.

Poush 8, 2073 (December 23, 2016). About 2 p.m.

Along the Siddhartha Highway section between Dumre Khola Bridge and Dumre Bazaar.

Samir and I walked down about five hundred metres and stopped at a temporary hotel (ghumti hotel?) close to the Dumre Khola Bridge. We decided to fetch some fruit drinks and some snacks. Anish came along. “Take the drink,” he said. “It’s great!”

Samir asked five packs of the fruit drink. “Let’s take some pakodas,”he added.

“Some potato chops as well,” I said.

“They too are delicious,” Anish said. “We’re around here all day. Have bought them several times already.”

“Shall I warm them up?” The lady at the hotel said.

We said, “Sure.”

The pakodas and  chops were drowned into hot oil. They came out oilier than before. Samir paid for the items we bought.

A few paces back to our designated area of study, we met Padam dai. We had met him on Mangsir 15, the day we had come Palpa. He was the son of the owner of the buses the Department of Geology had reserved. We had first mistaken him for a teacher. Then we knew that he was almost the same age as us but had already graduated in Engineering. We had called him dai (brother) in the beginning. We continued to do so.

So, we met him. “Can you do us a favour?” Anish asked. “Can you get the best cake for us?”

“Are you celebrating someone’s birthday?” Padam dai asked.

“Yep.”

“Whose birthday?”

“Prasmita. I guess you know her. She is fair.., tall… has a mark on her forehead.

“The girl with curly hair, isn’t she?”

“See? I told you know her.”

Padam dai agreed. We all went away.

2.

Poush 10, 2011 (December 10, 2016). About 8 a.m.

In our room at Shree Masyam School.

No more field work. The rush had ended that day. Everyone was lazing about. We did not even want to get out of our sleeping bags. “Tomorrow is Prasmita’s birthday,” Anish told Bimal in course of talk. “We are celebrating at midnight.”

“How?”

“I’ve ordered cake.”

“Through Padam dai?”

“Yo!”

About thirty minutes later, we were still idling. Having lunch help not helped in removing our laziness. We basked ourselves in the sun looking down at the Bhaisekati Khola, the surroundings and all, gossiping trivial matters. Prasmita and Sarita came down. They were just going for lunch. Bimal said, “Prasmita, Happy Birthday!”

“Today is not my birthday,” Prasmita said.

When the girls were out of sight, I said, “Didn’t you listen earlier that tomorrow is her birthday?”

Puzzled, Bimal said, “I thought it was today.”

Anish was a little angry. “Wouldn’t we have already celebrated had it been today?” He chuckled, “I think she knows we are planning something. You have ruined the surprise, idiot.”

3.

About 6:30 p.m. the same day.

I came back to the room after the dinner. We had been busy writing reports. Nothing but reports. Some teachers had been to Palpa and some of us had been very much disapointed at that. All I needed was rest. I went into the room and placed my plate leaning against the wall.

Anish was lying down on the floor. He seemed tired, looked like he needed some air. I did not think of anything, though. All I wanted was to lean on to the wall on his right. I sat down. “Don’t press on to that sleeping bag,” Anish expressed his caution. I understood. Under the sleeping bag was a box of cake.

“Got it in ten minutes,” he said. The next day, in presence of Deepak sir, he told the complete story, “I was having dinner while I got a call (from Padam dai). Then I rushed down. (What about the plate?- I didn’t ask.) In ten minutes, I got down, took the cake and climbed back. Up here, I nearly got caught. I had to go the other way around.”

He showed us the box. Nanglo was printed on the box. The brand name did not surprise me. I had seen the Bakery Cafe of Nanglo at Tansen.

4.

About 11 p.m. the same day.

The evening turned into night before the presentations were over. Our room was the first to go out. Those who had been told to be in our room never came out. We waited, saw other groups coming out, made some laughter, danced, sang and all did all we could do without getting into our room. Work had ended. Only fun remained.

As we went to the other room and as others came into ours, Anish had asked not to stay in the corner of the room. Sandeep came and covered the cake with a mound of bags. When we came back, nothing had happened to the cake thankfully.

5.

5 minutes before midnight.

Boys had poured into our room to sing and dance. Some of us had packed up clothes into our bags as we were returning Kathmandu the next evening. The dance had continued for almost an hour. Anish had slipped out five minutes before us. Bimal and I asked Sandeep, Prafulla and Samir to go up. Only Samir assented but he did not come up with us. We slipped out quietly.

The birthday party was in the girls’ room. Last year was different. I had frequently visited the girls’ room but this year, I had not been in their room once. Now I was getting in their room in the midnight. I felt a little awkward. “Whoever comes has to dance,” Nirusha and Laxmi said. Bimal and I just nodded. Samir came in. Pooja called Badda (Sandeep Poudel). He was reluctant in the beginning but he agreed to come. He came up with Hem Sagar. I had never believed he would come. He surprised me.

The box of cake was opened. Six (?) pieces of cake showed up. Candles were inserted. The birthday girl had been sent out. We waited for her.

At exactly 12 o’clock, Prasmita entered the room As soon as she entered, the room chimed, “Happy Birthday to you.” The birthday girl herself sang the birthday song. She laughed heartily. She was overwhelmed with joy.

The candles were lit and put out. The cakes were cut with spoon and distributed. It was delocious. Girls cake-painted Prasmita. Manisha and Yuvraj took photos. The cake was still being distributed. Bimal whispered to me, “We might have to dance. Let’s go.”

We slipped away. The party began. We could listen to them jump two floors below. The dance continued for an hour. We knew it had ended when Badda and Hem Sagar came back. The other day heard that other boys too had joined the party and had woken up teachers as well. No wonder they were scared by the loud noises of the midnight birthday party.

All that mattered was happiness. The happiness of the birthday girl the most. Prasmita, May happiness always enrich your soul!

पाल्पा-२

​ यसअघि “पाल्पा” शिर्षकमा तीन कविता पाल्पाबाट पोस्ट गरेको थिएँँ । काठमाडौंं फर्किएपछि लेखेका तीन कविता यहाँ प्रस्तुत गर्दछु ।

 १.

लेक र बेँसी, गोरेटा-बाटाहरूमा

जिन्दगीका हरेक पाटाहरूमा

जीजीबीसा राख्दछन् नरनारी

मुहारमा हरपल गुलाबी रङ्ग छरी 

मस्याम, टारीडाँडाबाट पूर्वतिर हेर्दा

 २. (हाइकु)

मस्याम, डुम्रे घर

        महिना दिनलाई

                   यादका अत्तर
 ३. (मित्रताका ती पल)

राईझुमाको लय, रोदीघरका गीत

मित्रताको स्वर हासोको सङ्गीत

कम्मर मर्काई, ताली पड्काई

साथ पाई मित्रजनको, साह्रै रमाई

बित्यो समय कति छिटो पीर सबै भुलाई

​A Month in Palpa: Some of the Things I Learnt

I spent about a month (26 days to be precise) at Palpa with my friends and teachers for field-work on Geology. It’s a matter of 100 marks after all. But life is not only about university lessons and exams. There are a lot more things to learn.

A view from Tundikhel, Tansen

1. Life’s uncertain

The day we left for Palpa, we were happy. Though we were in the cabin, 7-8 of us could gossip freely and we did not complain. The uncertainty of life showed up after we reached Siddhababa as it got dark on the way. To our dismay, the bus had a damaged dynamo. To state it straight, the bus lacked headlight. We searched for torch lights to help the driver, which was in vain. When the bus took sharp turns, my heart leaped out to my mouth. We prayed, we sought ideas. Another vehicle from behind helped the driver see the road. When the bus stopped at Dumre, Palpa, we shook hands with the driver, cheered and thanked God. The next day, when I saw the road and the gorge of Tinau River, I felt that it is a miracle that I’m alive.

Gorge formed by Tinau River

2. Schedule cannot always be followed

We began with a schedule. We had to follow it but we did not. What should have been done on the seventh day was completed on the first day. It created a lot of confusion. It was difficult to understand what we did but as time passed, we understood what we had done. Learning under a schedule is easier but there is no need to panic if the schedule is disturbed.
3. We can’t observe nature well from inside a bus

Three buses were reserved for daily travel (traverse is the word geologists use) along the Siddhartha Highway. While we were in the bus, we had difficulty in observing geological features. There is problem in connecting things with places when we try to recall. When we walked along towards the end of the exursion because of protests against Federal Model, we understood things really well.
4. There’s always a way to discover fun

When there are so many people around you, you never have to feel low. Even when there is a lot of work to do, you get support from them. Your mind is more inclined to fun in those times. I also found that we look for fun when we are under restrictions. Sometimes, noticing small movements and chats can also give immense pleasures. Enjoying things in the present can help a lot in overcoming troubles.

Boys find fun on the last day of field

5. Togetherness

Most of us have lived in closely-knit families. A lot of problems arise while we are away from family. Homesickness is a problem to many. With the support of friends, this is no big deal. Together we celebrated successes and soothed failures. Together we solved the financial problems we could get into. Together we worked and together we succeeded. Together we bacame family of a sort.
6. Thankfulness

Spending a month at an entirely new place is difficult. Without the help of local people, the school we stayed and all the stakeholders, it would have been impossible. We thank them for their support. We thank our chefs without whom we would not have got food in time. We thank our teachers for the knowledge they imparted. We thank each other for tolerating and cooperating. We also thank our families who have undergone several challenges before and during our excursion.
7. That feeling when you’re leaving

I don’t get a perfect word for this. I was happy that I was returning home but I was also sad that I was leaving the place that had sheltered us for about a month. I still remember the faces of people who bade us farewell. Was it a kind of attachment, a kind of bond I had made with the place and it’s people? Maybe I left a part of my soul there so that I can remember them everyday.
I heard someone say, “You may get a lot of chances to earn money. To earn memories though, you have a very few chances.” Memories of the camp, friends, people and places have formed this article. I proudly share my priceless article for all forever.

4 Exemplary Stories of Friendship from the Mahabharata

In most countries, Friendship Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August. There is variation in dates, however. Learn more on Wikipedia. Today, on the occasion of Friendship Day, I have brought to you exemplary stories of friendship from the epic Mahabharata.

1. Krishna and Arjun

Well, they were cousins. Arjun’s mother Kunti was Krishna’s aunt. But they were not just tied by the bloodline. They were intimate friends. One could understand the other through his gestures. Krishna and Arjun, according to the Mahabharata are the incarnations of Narayana (God) and Nara (Human), who together can destroy evil.

The most remarkable point in the story of their friendship is Krishna’s recitation of the Bhagavad Geeta (The Song of the God) to Arjun. Though a fierce warrior he was, Arjun was filled with compassion seeing his relatives. He did not want the victory obtained by killing millions of people. Arjun wanted to leave the battlefield. Krishna motivated Arjun by saying that it would have been a possible if the war had not started. At the battlefield, one has to fight. Else, he would be called a coward. “Do you want to be called a coward by the future generations?” Krishna asked Arjun. He also told that Arjun could establish righteousness in the Dwapar Yug.

This story, if considered from the point of religion, tells us that God is a friend of righteous humans. It is through the guidance of God that we can bring an end to the evil. The main moral in this story is, however that a true friend should never let a friend depressed. Neither does he should let him be ashamed.

Krishna and Sudama. Source: http://appmithistories.blogspot.nl

2. Krishna and Sudama

A long time after Krishna set himself as the king of Dwarka, a poor man came to his door asking for alms. He wanted to meet Krishna but when he saw the grandeur of the fort-city, he repressed his desire. The poor man was about to go away, when Krishna recognized him. He was Krishna’s childhood friend, Sudama.

Once, when they were young, Sudama had stolen Makkhan and had eaten it alone without sharing with his friends. Sudama was tall and his friends made him steal the pots kept on the higher places. He had done so because when they used to steal together in that manner, he often used to get the least share. Unfortunately, since that day, his family became poorer and poorer. By the time Sudama had reached Dwarka, he had nothing but thin clothes and not a morsel of food.

Seeing his friend and knowing his story, Krishna embraces Sudama and serves him well. Within a few days, Sudama looks better. Krishna then helps Sudama build a house within Dwarka so that he can meet his amigo frequently. Such a generous friend Krishna was! (I heard this story from my grandmother some days ago.)

3. Karna and Duryodhan

Karna, though a Kshyatria by birth (Surya and Kunti were his parents), was called Sut-putra (child of a Shudra) because he was raised by a charioteer and his wife. When this warrior wished to compete in a ceremony with Arjun, the Pandavas humiliated him. Duryodhan, who has been portrayed as evil for most part, stands up to his brothers. He can not make Karna compete but later on, as a mark of friendship, grants Karna the kingship of Anga Province within his empire. Though one may say Duryodhan wanted to exploit Karna to fulfil his evil design against the Pandavas,  Karna always took the friendship truly. He supported Duryodhan in whatever he did and went on to the extent of saving his only friend’s life several times. The Mahabharata says that the only mistake of Karna was to support the Chir haran of Draupadi. When Kunti later told to change sides, Karna said that because Duryodhan had only one true friend, Karna could never leave him.

4. Krishna and Radha

These are the subjects of numerous songs often describing romantic relationship between them. But there was more than the romantic feeling between them. While Krishna was a smart boy, Radha was wise. She believed in following the traditions as they were. Whenever Krishna made mistakes she was the one to correct him. For example, when Krishna killed a bull, Radha was enraged. She told him to bathe in the major rivers of the world to eliminate his sins. Krishna is believed to have brought water from Yamuna, Ganga, Sindhu, and Saraswati into two ponds now known as Radha Kunda and Shyam Kunda. In that sense, though Radha and  Krishna’s friendship is not much told in stories, they had deep regards for each other.

I’m done with stories of amity from the Mahabharata. Happy Friendship Day to all!