Almost Paradise

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November 6th 2010
Published: November 7th 2010
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A twenty-one kilometer bus ride from Katmandu, Nagarkot is a sleepy village, famous for its views of Sagarmatha- the highest peak in the world. Padraic and ChinaMark arrived in the early evening and lugged their backpacks away from the village center to a specific guesthouse on the very edge of the settlement, recommended by a friend. Carrying all his material belongings in the continent of Asia, Padraic noticed a particularly dark-skinned middle-aged dreadlocked sadhu - a man with no permanent home, often naked in public, constantly stoned, and who likes to talk about God: a “bum” in the primitive West. In the more civilized nations of the Subcontinent, he is a holy man.

ChinaMark and Padraic checked into their room and then joined a Nepalese-French couple for chai and spliffs. While smoking his low-quality scored-in-Kathmandu grass, Padraic noted the sadhu walking up the path.

“Eha, Baba, charras?”

“Charras? Charras?"

(Think Crocodile Dundee. "That's not a knife.")

The man sat down and reached into his bag. From what Padraic could tell his earthly possessions were:
A lungi
A walking stick
A large necklace
A chillum and
Half an ounce of fairly fragrant marijuana.

("That is a knife.")

Nagarbaba (“Naked Father”) was not remotely interested in the tobacco-polluted spliff. He loaded his chillum, passed it around, and loaded it again. He explained to Padraic how the smoke is sent up as an offering to Shiva. Padraic began to believe he could understand Nepalese.

When Padraic and ChinaMark went back to their guesthouse, they met some friends and had more chillums. The next morning they groggily left their room around ten A.M. The owners of their lodging were preparing a chillum. Neither of the foreign weaklings wanted to smoke, nor to be rude. They hurried down the path. After five minutes, they came to a small shop for tourists. A chillum was being loaded. They turned the corner. Four young men set at another small store. “Hey, come, sit. Smoke!” One cannot outrun destiny.

Later in the day Padraic and Nagarbaba went down a dirt path to an old woman’s farm. In America the lady might be described as a “Chinese-looking grandma.” She offered to sell Padraic and Nagarbaba some sad-brown crumbly shake. They politely declined. On the way out, Nagarbaba rolled his eyes at Padraic.

ChinaMark helped the local community to build a small shelter for Nagarbaba to ease his life in the coming winter. Padraic could not contribute, because he was deathly ill from a combination of microbes, altitude, and excessive smoking. Usually unconscious and always delirious, he had uncontrollable liquid shits, a terrible fever, and visions of Kali for two days. “I’m too young, but this would be a beautiful place to die.” Once a matronly, worried Nepalese woman was watching him when he awoke.

ChinaMark and Padraic stayed in Nagarkot for six days. They never saw Sagarmath.


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