23 February 2009

Distant Closeness

I'm sitting in the peaceful hills of Nargarkot (or I was yesterday when I wrote this).  A gruelling 10km uphill slog followed by a restful dinner and a bout of people watching as I sat in silence, enjoying my surroundings. 
Just after my arrival I watched the sunset over the Kathmandu Valley.  You couldn't see the Kathmandu that I knew was there for all the smokey haze.  As the sun got lower it made it even worse.  It was quite nice to know that I was far away from the hustle and bustle.  I got more than 12 hours sleep as there were no Hindu bells, no dogs and no shouting neighbours screeching away at the well by my bedroom window.
Eventually convincing myself to leave the room and grab some breakfast I got to see the Himalayan views that have been eluding me for so long.  I'm staying at the Hotel at the End of the Universe, a funny throwback to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I tried to explain that to the waiters, but I think the idea was lost. 
As I sat chomping on my breakfast, I stared out the open window to look at Langtang, which was looking, quite strangely straight across probably a hundred kilometres of wilderness back at me.  It felt almost personal, even though there are a million places it could have been looking, a million other stories for it to watch today.  The hawks, always so glorious and discerning, fly endless circles above the restaurant every now and again whipping into the trees to emerge on the other side.   They are closer than I have ever seen them before, enjoying the warm of the sun and the thermal updrafts it creates.  My two recently departed grandparents were such avid bird-watchers, they would have loved this.
As the day progresses the mountains are getting harder to see.  For now, I can still make them out, they are so close I feel like I could just run up them but so far away they seem impossible to reach or touch.
Last night in my self-induced silence I started go back through my diary entries.  To look at my first few days in Nepal, to look at my days on the way to the Annapurna Sanctuary. Back in the times where I was deathly sick with a chest infection and an overwhelming desire to go home and to my work successes and frustrations.
"19 July 2008 - Day Three - Today we went to visit the town of Bhaktapur.  Lovely town with no vehicles allowed. I picked up a 'sticky' local whose name was Shailama,I think.  The others madde fun of me because I kept talking to him although he was really only keen to sellme some of his paintings."  How times have changed..
"26 July 2008 - Day Ten - After staying the night I returned to my flat.  It had been an awful sleep.  They have no curtains and @ 5 we were woken by the Hindu bells, which in turn woke the dogs and the children."
"10 August 2008 - Day Twenty-Five - What are you even doing here???"
"12 August 2008 - Day Twenty Seven - OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH the pain! GASTRO!"
"1 September 2008 - Day Forty Eight - The first day of Autumn, before I even realised what day it was I was remarking in the change outside."
"3 October 2008 - Day Eighty - MADE IT TO ABC!"
"7 November 2008 - Day One hundred and Fifteen - That was a truly bizarre experience.  They were singing songs and talking about the historic-ness of it all.  The American accents were everywhere as were the flags.  There was a life size cut out of Obama up the front and an amazing excitement in the air."


Louise said...

Hi - thanks for your comment on my blog! I am very very jealous of you being in Kathmandu. More years ago than I care to remember (oh, okay then at least 20 years ago) I fell in love with Nepal and the Nepalese. I was there for a couple of months and wondered all that time why I should ever leave. Well, lack of money is a rather compelling reason! A couple of years later I won a place on VSO, the UK equivalent of the Peace Corps, and requested a posting to Nepal. During the final training my boyfriend proposed. I didn't go...wrong decision. Who knows!

po said...

It sounds just so beatuiful where you are. Sigh. I have some friends who visited too and their pictures were phenomenal. I should look through them again to see if i can find any of the places you mention.

Tamara said...

You must have enjoyed the quiet! Despite the many frustrations you've faced, your Nepal experience has given you some unforgettable memories too. Not many people can say they've stayed at the Hotel at the End of the Universe ;-)

Tim said...

We're going back to the hotel at the end of the universe.......are there robots?