“Its beautiful. Plain beautiful ho? She said startling me. Catching my shoulders from behind almost making me fall down.
I was standing atop a low stonewall looking up at the clouds slowly moving westwards. The unhurried movement, the dark ones separating from the whiter ones. Green, green fields below, dark trees covering the hills and the darkening sky above.
Beautiful. Plain beautiful. That was exactly what I wanted to say. She took the words out of my mouth.
Time: 5:40 pm
Venue: Jiri Technical School.
Tell me what will come to your mind when you remember this field trip to Jiri? I ask.
Walking with you from one place to another…she takes her time… the love talk night, the way she sleeps, throwing noodles at you…
I will remember the way you asked me “Beautiful ho?” forever I tell her.
Really? And know what. …..(She takes my name) you’ve got a queer name. But every time the name comes to my mind. I don’t remember your face..no specs or anything only a feeling only a person who I like being with.
I laugh. “ I don’t believe in people liking me. I am an obligation sort. Would you still be seated beside me given the choice to be with anyone on the bus?’
“Any doubt? You still don’t know me.” She continues.
Racing trees, houses, rivers, smiley children, some all alone as cowherds playing with the stick, some with friends all waving a bye bye at me… taking turns to seat beside the window. His yelling “Ye hawa bol na, Ye mato bol na, Ye rukh bol na..Bol na bhaneko (Hey air speak out, speak oh earth, trees Please speak out) from the back seat, Dil Se re booming on the bus speakers, wind on the face, his stories about how the hills were formed the so-called Mahabharat tales, his bluffs once again about having visited Baitadi, a song dedicated to me “ Mujhe Tumse Mohobbat Hai Deewanagi ki hadse”. The shocked expression on my face on hearing it!! A genuine heart attack guys! Then his apologies on having sung that song of all the others 800 movies made in Bollywood every year! I was under “ influence” he says. But its true…he continues. I have absolutely no idea what to make of it. Drunken men, why do they always find me to babble all nuisance?
Seems like I am the best listener a drunkard can ever find. I might as well be crowned the Buddy of Drunkards. In the last trip it was one guy, this time two. The number is ever increasing….
On the terrace of hotel in Charikot he takes my hand begging me to stay back a little longer. Please stay he says.
He talks. I listen.
You know, this girl he says pointing a finger at her. “She is like a point yet a universe to me. “
I know she is the universe to him. I don’t say that though. Just keep listening.
He converses in English.
You always talk in English when you’re drunk I tell him.
Yah..I don’t know how to speak in English. Please teach me to speak in English, write in English.
Cut that crap I tell him. Don’t tell me that “ I don’t know any English” sentence ever again.
He continues. You know it’s contextual. While in Kathmandu if one gets drunk people talk in English. But in …..if you do that you will get one tight slap in the face. There people talk in Hindi when drunk because they think it makes you stand out. And when you are drunk you always want to show that you are better than the rest. You are different.
I wish I were always drunk, able to speak out my mind, always.
Why resort to alcohol? Can’t you try doing that without any? I ask.
Come on …You should get drunk too. Do it once.
I remember walking with him in the streets of Baneshwore. Telling him “ Know what …these days I feel so let down that I wish I were a drunkard. I wish I could drown my worries with the wine bottles. But then I remember the taste of alcohol, the smell and conclude Juices are a lot better. The sweet taste. Might sound childish but juices are so tasty.
He had laughed out loud. Real loud on the mentioning of Juices.
I had asked him about how much of water was mixed in a certain amount of alcohol. He had explained. Perhaps he remembers none of it when drunk, none of it when he’s not either. Not that I expect him to. Whatever. Drunken men. How much can you trust them???
Drunken men. Have been a part and parcel of my field trips now. What more can I say?
This alcohol fad. What’s the fun in drinking and dancing like a crank? Getting high they say, marijuana, G…I ask my frens “ How can you get it so easily?”
“Sojo Manche” (simpleton) they reply. They are the smartest bunch of people I know. They talk big, have mind-blowing ideas about the best approach to development tis-that…. but they there’s always a Time to Get High and Drunk. And no I don’t think of it as something good or bad. I am not their mom to worry about their livers and lungs either. Still if something harms your body the only instrument to do whatever else you want to do, the only thing you have got to call your own why do it?? No use saying that either. It’s like banging my head against the wall. You can’t wake up people who are pretending to be asleep can you?
Back to the trip. They were busy playing cards in the room. Two guys and two gals. I don’t know how to play Solitaire in my computer, the hell with Kitty. I go to sleep. They are gone, I’m awake. It’s a nice room. Fluffy pillows, a T.V in one corner, a mirror even an attached bathroom in most rooms. The three of them go to sleep after the guys leave the room. The Barcelona Vs Arsenal game has just begun. I get off the bed and watch the game all-alone. Sol Campbell scores a goal for Arsenal. I am disheartened. The game gets more exiciting. Goal! I yell unbothered about my sleeping buddies as Barcelona players make a shot on goal. Too sleepy after the first half. I go to sleep before Barcelona scores any goal. The good news next morning is Barcelona Won. Two to One.
The bus leaves Charikot bazaar for Jiri. I don’t know how Jiri looks like, nothing comes to my mind other than the name when they talk of it. The bus is nearing Jiri everyone on the bus genuinely surprised by the view from the windows, trees trees everywhere, never thought it would be this good is what everyone is saying. Our bus enters the Jiri Technical School Premises. We get off the bus mouths open in surprise. Green rules, the place is colored green, the dark green hills, the light green grass, the darkening sky, the stone path, the small white and black stone houses….It is like nothing I have ever seen before. The program will be held tomorrow we’re informed. We two leave the group instantly to explore the place. The vegetable gardens, the pond and the barbed wire acting as a fence. We manage to slip through the barbed wire and reach the river. Crystal clear pristine water..splash, sploosh..that’s what we do when we see rivers, jump into it. The walk on the rocks, the chilly afternoon, the cold water and the view of the wide wide lands carpeted green…
Jiri . Are we in heaven? I ask as we return back from Kune, a village in Jiri.
No. We’re not. S answers. Where are the Apsaras?
“If such place existed in Kathmandu.It would be crammed with lovers he continues.
“ Now why does every beautiful place need to be linked with lovers? I question.
Because that’s where we can kiss girlfriends…and that’s only the beginning if you know what I mean he says.
“You don’t always need girlfriends I tell. I am caught off guard. Everyone’s laughing.
They’re like “ you want a kiss”.
“ I didn’t mean that” I say. Yet feel like a perfect fool. I look down at my feet. There’s a fine, slithery leech stuck to me. I try to pull it out. It’s too busy smooching me! Just won’t let go. He pulls it out. We run in the pastures, sit on the huge log…walk past the river, the cows…Jiri is just mindblowing. Be there. Just be there once guys. It is the best place ever. In the lap of the hills, so close to nature, so peaceful, you’ll love it. And go there with all that you need to go there with..girlfriends, boyfriends… or alone… nature’s too much company for loners isn’t it?
We sit on the edge of the road facing the trees and river below our legs crossed. So where else have you been in Nepal I ask.
“Dhankuta, Terathum, Solukhumbu, Illam, Jhapa, Pokhara, Chitwan, Biratnagar, Dharan,…the list is long…she names almost all districts in the Eastern Development Region. I haven’t been to the west she says. And you? She asks.
I don’t want to answer the question…I take my time and slowly begin “ Kathamandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur…She roars with laugher. I know the rest she pipes in. “Janakpur, Makwanpur, Nawalparasi, Chitwan.”
An all country trip is a must before we begin our careers we conclude. I tell her how I don’t want to identify myself as a typical Kathmanduite yet seems to fall in that category time and again. I am glad she doesn’t say, “ Go home and log on to cabbage” as did N in Charikot!! I was only observing the cabbage plant and the rumor is spread, she’s never seen a cabbage! Sure, I have seen a cabbage; who hasn’t? It’s my favorite vegetable!!
We talk of context specific development, discuss why statistics reveal only 29% of the total land area of Nepal to be covered with forests when trees are all we see once outside the capital, 10% shrub land, the regional disparity, the Korean University, our Masters..…a hell lot of things..
It’s our first night in Jiri. We plan to meet after dinner to discuss the action plan and the survey tomorrow. There are no lights. It rains cats and dogs. The plan’s cancelled. We five huddle in one bed. There are three beds in the room, two posters one reads: “ In every thought and action seek excellence”, the other has Buckingham Palace written on it. The quilts are so heavy that you can’t pull it as you toss and turn in your bed single-handedly. One floor has one toilet, no place to take a shower. And it’s not a development worker’s symptom to seek luxury as well. A candle is lighted, love songs in the background, and love talks. I don’t remember how it started but it did and I wonder time and again why everyone around me is talking of relationships these days.
“ It must have been love but its over now
It must have been good but I lost it somehow…Roxette sings in the dark room…
She says, “ Five years is not a joke. And know what he tells me “Its not about us. Its about you and me. I am shocked. Not us?” I find the whole process of knowing people so painful, the same process time and again. You think you know people and in the end this is what happens, no emotion exists…you end up realizing you never knew the person in the first place…”…..
There’s a knock on the door. The hot cup of tea arrives.
George Michael sings “ Careless Whisper”….I try to concentrate on the lyrics….
“ If you can’t love then ignore the person. Why be friendly and raise expectations?”
You think I don’t ignore….
I don’t know anything of love. All I want is people who respond to your feelings. Let it be a firm handshake, a simple thank you, but let the person be expressive. Just feel the way you do…. The conversation continues.
Know what he said, “ The worst thing ever is having to constantly remind people how much you care for them, love them.”
How can the person ever know if you never tell them?
Why do we always end up talking of love and relationships? One asks.
The same crap time and again, that’s what I feel another says. Yet I think I have an answer to that question. Perhaps it is not crap but reality. We are social beings after all, the web of social relations that’s society!
And I tell you I am honestly sick and tired of listening to other’s love stories these days. One in two people I meet have their love story to share with me. Some tell me their stories over the phone, others on emails, yet others over a cup of coffee…the list goes on and on. Boy! I am overburdened with all the details people keep telling me. I mean “Kati sunnu, kan pakisakyo”! Yah, it feels good to know someone has found the one in his or her lives. And when people confide in me, it relives me of my tensions as well. Honestly it does. But there’s a limit to everything. The love space in my mind is overloaded.
And its tough, really tough to hang out with frens all of whom have bfs or bfs waitin for their turns you know the huge fan following….Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one this way, and is it too much to ask for ..a person who doesn’t give a damn to love ( loss of Valuable energy) that psuedo sensitive melodramatic crap ..or whatever..just alike me…Live the moment man. Aru sab bal ho , sort of attitude…..I don’t know any…. for now those people keep tormenting me with the world’s most irritating dialogues like: Ah..you’ll find someone..
It makes me wanna yell…I don’t give a damn to finding someone…I’m better off with smooching leeches!!! Man the lovers are driving me insane!! HELP! Phew that sure helped. Getting it off my mind…
Love talks, leeches, lunatics, lovers, lonely walks ….the painful dark hills, the Aainselo shrubs, the rhododendrons on the road, shaking hands with the air…His ‘ Hello Ma Hawa hun” (Hello I’m the air), her worries of the sunburns, her speech classes, their momo craze…. The trip to Jiri.
N sad Mr Twaaks that didn’t come across any Lalloo this time. But we did meet the Maoist Area Commander of Jiri. A fine young man. Will have a separate entry for him. Hmm maybe should have a separate category for Jiri…just need to complete a few assignments first. N Prabesh we didn’t ride on elephants for the same reason, the price is 300 or 350 bucks now. Correct me if I’m wrong Jaz, either ways you Suck! Haha no correct that for “I know I suck but you…(fill in the blanks). And Hysh tooooo busy with office…Security Council. Chill dude. The assignments God! Katti padhnu!