Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
So, where was I with the writing thing? Oh yeah, the bus ride on the roof. Fuuck maaan!! That was intense.
Feeling your life swinging from the rocky side of the mountain to the nothingness of the cliff's edge just a few inches away. I counted eighteen of us on the top of that bus, plus the I-can’t-even-imagine-how-many-more inside of it. As if all this was not enough, I had to do some stupid thing because I had lost a drunken bet just the night before, so the whole experience was even more "enjoyable”. Nothing impossible though: it was just about singing some pointless lyrics in some specific point of the track. Anyway, lesson learnt: do not drink and bet.
Finally, I arrive at the community where I’ll volunteer for two weeks.
There's not much around. Apart from the villagers’ houses spread throughout the mountain’s terraces, there only are two shops and one restaurant of which the owner claims to be also hotel and bar. The whole structure is a bamboo based construction kept up by
mud walls, but you know what? It looks just fine. I mean, I never have the feeling of suddenly being crushed beneath poorly constructed walls; my face surely splashed into Cheow Mein. So, if this guy tells me that this restaurant is in fact a restaurant-bar-hotel, I honestly believe him. As a matter of fact, one of the benches in the dining room was strangely wide and after taking a second look, I saw a pillow and a folded blanket at the end of it. More than likely, I was having dinner in the bedroom, which was theoretically the dining room. But, obviously, also the bedroom. Apparently, in Nepal there is always enough room for another room.
At the beginning of the week I bought a lighter at one of the shops. Two days later, I came back to get another one when the first broke. I don’t know whether these lighters are purposely tuned to blow up after 24 hours or if it’s just me being unlucky with portable-fire. Exactly! I had to go back to the shop and buy a third one. The shopkeeper smiled at me asking why was I so interested in lighters and what did I need them for. I pretended to be angry: “Nah man, I do not need a goddam new lighter every second day. It’s you, selling shitty crap!” I love kidding with that man, he looks to be in his late 50’s and when he is not inside the shop, he’s just outside of it taking care of the grandson –or granddaughter-, I can never tell if they’re boys or girls.
A man explained to me that Holi is the Festival of Colours: it’s a Hindu ancient fest to celebrate the victory of Good over Evil. The legend as a whole is a little bit more complicated than that, but the celebration involves a bonfire on the night before Holi and a colour-splashing fest where people paint each other bodies. I was curious to see what it was about so I decided to take the day off from the volunteer routine and walk down to the river to visit a village. Or at least this was my plan.
Clearly things didn’t go that way as I lost myself while taking pictures of the nature that was surrounding the hovels along the way. I walked downhill through stone-sealed paths, streams, flourish terraces, cow shit and somebody’s backyard. I crossed a little conglomerate of houses where I have been attacked by a group of kids who were playing with water balloons. Eventually, I made it to the river, but there was no village at all. Rocks and water. That was it. I find out later that when I passed that group of homes on the way down, I was actually passing the village. Alright, no drama. Sit and chill a bit on a stone before walking back up.
After the Holi experience, as I returned to the volunteers’ house, I was an accomplice in a murder for hire. Basically I went to the neighbors while they were killing one of their chickens for us to eat. Mummy was washing clothes out front and two kids were kneeling on the kitchen floor, executing the bird by cutting its head off. Price of the hen’s life: 500 rupees.
I stepped into the house and scanned the only room that constituted it: a bamboo framed bed, three –and I mean three- shelves hosting cups, plates, cutlery, food and other packages, a corner where buckets and clothes of different sizes were piled together and a layer of leaves on the ground that could have been there for any reason. It wasn’t the toilet though; I checked - it was outside the building.
It’s beautiful to realize how natural it is for the locals to live this very simple life. I was amused by the view of these two women, probably mother and daughter, sitting on a rock while having a chat. A little baby was also taking place on the same rock, playing with the plastic bucket that the younger lady was using to perform a task that I constantly relegate to the washing machine.
People in this village are really friendly and it’s easy to have a good time in their company even if we can barely understand each other. It’s more like a gestured conversation between people who would actually have a lot to talk about. Some of them understand basic English, others not at all. Those who can rely on a better knowledge have obviously left the village –or the area in general- to move to Kathmandu or other bigger cities, where they can aim at getting more money by working as tourist guides or other related jobs.
Oh. By the way, I almost forgot: On my way back from the river I lost the lighter. Fuck meee!
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