A Trip, a decision

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A little bit of an airhead (or maybe much), a very sheltered person who took most things seriously and when not serious, came up with ideas; some stupid, some naughty, some nice to carry out with friends. That was me! I had a group of friends that did most things together. Why am I getting nostalgic? Of those days when we used to laugh and laugh till our stomachs hurt and in between laughs told each other we’d live a long life because of course laughter was the best medicine and laughter increased life expectancy. Those school days when we used to be carefree and used our brains only to solve math problems and memorise stuffs. Those growing up years were years of obliviousness, ignorance, unawareness and so, of happiness!

No, no I am not complaining nor am I saying I was happy then and not happy now. If anything I am quite liking the process of knowing my own mind. This includes realising that though I think independence and freedom are most important to a person, I have been somewhat faint of heart and have always protected myself and been happy being safe and content. Like happiness and intellectual thinking were two mutually exclusive stuffs, I tend to not think about things on an intellectual level when I am happy and am unbothered, dare I say, like animals going on about their lives, grazing or doing what they do, devoid of consciousness and awareness. I hope to change this aspect of my life. Maybe I will go on a trip to an unknown place by myself. Of course, I don’t find it enjoyable to go to interesting places alone. Who do you share your observations or jokes with if you are alone? But if putting myself in unfamiliar and unsure surroundings and situations alone will help me be brave, strong and experienced. I am gonna go for it. So, watch this space.

Now, getting back to the main story, a few months back I decided to be impulsive and spontaneous and go to a temple on top of a mountain in a district neighbouring my hometown. This was before my epiphany so, I asked my little brother (who had much free time on his hands) to accompany me. It became a road trip for us (we took a motorbike, Bajaj Pulsar), a trip where we both didn’t know the way to our destination. We planned to set out in the morning and return by evening/night of the same day. But that didn’t go out as planned and the one day trip became a two day trip. The trip was everything; fun, excruating, regretful, enriching, you name it.

Things that happened on the trip
-I woke up very early, long before the alarm went off on both mornings. Talk about divine calling.

-We started our journey by descending down the hill on the spiral road and reached hewa river in no time. After crossing the hewa river bridge, the spiral road went up the hill. Soon, we were on the back part of the hill, the shady side. We were going through villages, whose names I had only heard of. My brother like many young boys is an avid biker. He loves speed. Since it was early in the morning and the cold wind was whacking us, I took out a warm scarf and wrapped it around his neck and wrapped a Kashmiri shawl around myself. But an extra helmet would have worked better on hindsight because I did get headaches.

We were going up and down the hills on the snake like road. I enjoyed the speed we were travelling at and the scenery of the hills but after a while the same sight of the humongous hills was monotonous. The big hills were vertigo inducing. I must have stayed too many years away from my home town that I, who have grown up among these hills was getting nauseous on seeing them so close.

-On the way, we got glimpse of the Kanchenjunga moutain range (pic above, which has the third highest mountain in the world) though afar and snowclad in its glory. When we reached the Kabeli river, we stopped to rest where my brother ordered tea for himself at a roadside restaurant. Guess there are only so many hours you can ride a bike before your body gets stiff especially your back and buttom.
 

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-We reached Taplejung and went though the town to the airport area. Beyond Sukhetar airport, the road was rough and full of rocks. And it got even worse as we went further. Where the rocky road ended the muddy road began and since it had rained the night before, the road was full of puddles of water which were like little swamps. In many places, the bike was in danger of getting swamped or skidding. Whenever the bike would get swamped, I would get off and my brother would navigate it out of the swamp. He indeed is an excellent biker.

-There are two bases (fedi); lower base and upper base before you reach the mountain top. We had planned to take the bike as far as lower base but the road was so bad we decided to leave it before that point and made our way on foot. Apparently, there were 2 paths, the long one going around the hill, and the shorcut up the hill. We took the shortcut but I found it very difficult to walk uphill. It took me forever to walk even a small distance. My brother unlike me walked fast and would wait for me. He was surprised to see me struggling and was worried because this was just the beginning of the road uphill. There was a small shop on the way so he ordered tea. And as we were waiting, he suddenly said “this will not do” . Because we had planned to return the same day, speed was of utmost importance and he asked me to wait there and he himself went back to get the bike. We were going to take it as far as we could after all.

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And I dozed off in a chair. It took my brother about an hour to get back with the bike. I had enjoyed a really good nap by that time and my headache was gone! Then, we were on our way again. From the lower base we had to make our way on foot.

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-It’s customary to not eat anything when you are going to a temple to pray. What we didn’t keep in mind was how difficult it was going to be to walk uphill for hours without energy. By afternoon we knew we had not even come halfway uphill and we will have to stay overnight! That was when we had the first meal of the day.

-Since winter had barely begun and It was still warm in my home town we decided to travel light. We didn’t heed the advice of my brother who had been to the temple before to take more warm clothes. I thought it was just few hours walk uphill and we could endure it. But yes, after we took a room in a hotel we wasted no time and got under our blankets. I didn’t even want to wake up and go down for dinner.

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-Going to a place in the Himalayas where the God lives was surely not gonna be easy, this is the great Himalayan trail after all. It turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I had my little brother who was my messiah on this journey! It may have been hard but now I have some idea why people go on adventures. It was just a two day trip and I came back with blessings, experience, many stories to tell and memories, the best ones with my little brother.

-A picture is worth a thousand words. Some pictures taken by my brother, I didn’t care about taking pictures. I was just glad that I didn’t die of sheer exhaustion.
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Old Hindi movies

I am listening to two old Hindi songs on repeat mode as I am writing! More on the songs later.

Movies play a big role in our part of the world where it is a major and sometimes the only form of entertainment. When I was growing up, all my family members; mom, sometimes dad, brothers, cousins, uncles and aunties used to sit and watch a movie together. And almost every Saturday, I and my girlfriends from school used to get together and rent a movie and watch it (the local cinema had stopped running Hindi movies altogether).

These past few days when I had no college, I spent it watching some old Hindi movies! These are the movies I hadn’t watched before. Apparently when you are watching alone, you end up watching things besides comedy, thriller or drama. These movies were socially relevant and thought provoking kind and beautiful too!!! For me, Rekha is the only other mesmerising Indian actress besides Madhubala. It was her movies that I watched, of the 70s and 80s. Of course I loved the two movies I watched; ‘Ghar’ and ‘Ijaazat’. What more I am still mentally in the zone of influence; the thinking, analyzing phase.

‘ghar’
-I found all the songs melodious, Kishore kumar at his best! My favourite tracks are ‘Aap ki aankhon mein’ and ‘Phir wohi raat hai’. I am listening to these two songs currently. In the 1st track, the newly married couple are so much in love and just beginning their married life, it is very romantic. The latter is where the husband is helping his wife to rehabilitate after she has been raped by a group of thugs and loving her like before.

-It is possible to fall in love with a dead celebrity. Yes, it may be transient and it may be because of the character he potrays in the movie. But Vinod Mehra has won me over. He has a killer smile and he is a husband so loving and understanding. Do husbands like the one he potrays even exist in the real world?

-This movie was made in the 70s when the society was much more conservative. Being an unwed mother or a divorcee(female) were unacceptable enough, I shudder to think what it must have been like for rape victims and her family then. Of course, things have not changed much, the right to live of the rape victim is questioned let alone happily.

-The chemistry between the lead actors is off the chart. It leaves you yearning and wishing for the kind of love they have and you cannot help but day dream. The stuffs of dreams!!!

I leave my thoughts on ‘Ijaazat’ for some other day.

Why I love imperfections…

I believe we are not supposed to find perfection. It surely is not easy to find!! It‘s like “Nirvana”. And life is more about imperfections. I read this quote somewhere a long time ago “Keep your expectations lower and you will never be disappointed”. At that time I didn’t know what it meant and wondered if that was even possible. We as human beings are greedy creatures; we aim for the highest, want the best…we are optimistic lot. Now I think I am beginning to understand what it means.

Perfection has a way of fizzling out. It disappoints people if and when they find it. All because it comes with expectations and it never turns out exactly like one expected. Imperfection on the other hand is more satisfying… first it is personal and then, it is not something shiny and polished but raw, ordinary and endearing.

They say “Journey is more important than the end”. If life is a journey, then perfection must be the end and nothing after that. But luckily we never do find perfection. It’s the genetic makeup of our species, that we are never satisfied. While striving to be perfect and satisfied, a man turns into a hungry beast…going from one kill to the next and searching for it in things he does; searching, enjoying, discarding…the cycle continues until he realises what he is doing is futile and that he doesn’t need it, the stuff which is like the apple of the garden of eden, a symbol, something to entice you.

I have realised good feelings like bad feelings do not last the way expectations and hope do. Like the time when you get a thing you have always wanted and it loses its appeal after some time. Or how one never forgets that one love who got away. I read a joke about a  married man somewhere saying “I have been in love with the same woman for 25 years. But please do not tell my wife”. How things you find perfect are anticlimactic. Bad things are bad but good things are never enough. Like when you are reading a great book and you are enjoying it but when you are finished with it, you are not satisfied. You are almost there (where you want to be) but you still want something more and you go on to the next. Or when you have had a delicious meal and your stomach is so full but you are missing something… And I do not mean the dessert! You are watching a good movie or a TV show, you are happy while watching it but when it ends you are confused and have that strange feeling and not because it has ended.

The void, the hunger remains! As long as you can feel and think, you are never satisfied! You cannot attain that perfection, bliss or happiness that you imagined on any terms. There is no such state for us ordinary beings. On contrary, good and beautiful things which should make you feel more superior and more happy rarely make a difference.

It must be ying and yang, the pull and the push of things. How we want something and do not want it the next moment. Is it that we are never going to find what we are looking for because it cannot be found? Perhaps that is why it makes sense to watch a movie and leave just before the ending, read a book and not gobble it up and like the imperfections all the way. It is more fulfilling…

My favourite coke studio song

I am obsessed with this song ‘Alif Allah’ from Pakistani coke studio. Apparently, it is the most viewed Pak video on youtube. And I just stumbled upon this song yesterday. The song connects you with your spiritual self and kinda reminds you not to get lost in frills and frivolities, to share, to be pure in deeds and thoughts and to believe in and love the higher power.

There are so little things, if any, that make you reflect and think. You are disconnected on so many levels, religion being one of them. You believe in God. But rare are the times you connect. And then you listen to a song like this and you feel happy and guided. You know on some days, you have that feeling that you are lost, a song like this gives you hope. It makes you feel that you are okay and you are only a human being. You are gonna make lots of mistakes, and repeat them, do bad things even when you know it is not right but you can find your way back to where you want to be, all you need to do is be loving and thoughtful and do your work, go through life caring and connecting with self and soul.

I was listening to this song

I like the new song ‘Mitti di khusboo’ by Ayushmann khurana. We were having  bad luck when we were returning to Kathmandu from Phidim. First, we had  postponed our journey by a day because my bro. R only booked the taxi tickets but didn’t go and get them. And our tickets were sold to other ppl. The next day, we nearly didn’t get bus tickets for Kathmandu from Birtamod because we had cancelled the previous tickets and it was a holiday season.

We had to take the very last seats of a bus and it was an unforgettable experience. It was a long long 16-17 hours journey. We were bouncing up and down our seats. My younger sister(cousin) is petite and she had taken the window seat right below the rack for luggage. I don’t know if it was the driver or the road conditions or the seat positions, we were bouncing very high and then ‘thud’ before landing on the seats. Everytime that happened, my sister will hit her head very hard above on the rack and scream in pain. I laughed a lot….She cursed a lot!!!… I told her we were getting the experience of horse riding on a bus ride. I only hit my head on that thing once when I was bounced at an angle…It hurt a lot!! We were having back aches, our buttocks were sore and legs were swollen. When the bus stopped for tea at a roadside restaurant after sometime, we got some relief; only 2-3 hours of bus ride felt like much more. Listening to this new song in full volume in repeat mode helped me distract myself and made the ride a little tolerable.

I don’t understand Punjabi very well and so looked up the lyrics meaning in google. I could totally relate to the song. Love the song, love the video but love them more separately. I didn’t find any romantic angle while listening to the song but love and nostalgia for one’s hometown contrary to the video. Here’s the song

I went somewhere amazing

This year we were planning to go trekking to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) but most of my friends couldn’t get holidays from their jobs or universities and the plan fell through. The friend who was in charge of organising everything said it was not feasible for just 4 or 5 of us to go as the trip would be expensive for a small group. So, I went somewhere else, somewhere amazing, a temple on top of a big hill in eastern Nepal, close to my home district. A temple of Goddess (Devi) Pathivara which is very well known and revered in these parts. It was what I really needed most.

A little back history. The eastern part of Nepal is the Limbuwan region. Initally, these were Limbu kingdoms before King Prithivi Narayan Shah conquered them and made a unified Nepal. Predominantly, the Limbus which is my tribe, live here. We are one of the ethnic people of Nepal and have our own language, script, scripture, culture and religion. Though we are influenced by Hinduism, we are not entirely hindus. Kirati rituals are different from Hindu rituals; especially the birth, marriage and death rituals. Also, the people of the hills and mountains are in someway nature worshippers, they worship the rivers, mountains, the forest God etc as mothers (mata, mai, devi).

But Pathivara mata(mother) is worshipped by all who know of her; the Hindus, Kiratis and the Buddhists. I personally think if a person believes in all Gods or a God and respects every religion and wants to pray in a monastry, a church, a temple or a mosque, irrespective of his/her religion, he/she should be allowed. It seems anyone can go to a church or a monastery, there are no restrictions but some temples and mosques are stricter on rules. I have seen boards outside some temples in Kathmandu prohibiting foreigners (people of other religions presumably Christians and Muslims) from entering. Similarly, non muslims are not allowed in Mecca and Medina. It must be because people while visiting these places, which are not their holy places see these as tourist attractions first and foremost. I speak from my own experiences ofcourse. When I have gone to churches and monastries, and the first thing I did was say “How beautiful!!!!” Maybe someday we will change.

The temple of Pathivara mata (mother) is in Taplejung, a neighbour district of Panchthar. But for all the years I have lived in Phidim I had not ventured beyond Hewa river. My mom and dad have made the journey to this temple once, albeit separately many years ago. It had taken them many days as the roads were rough then, and the site was not even developed as a temple.

They came back with so many great tales that we listened to with awe. How there were money and gold everywhere in the holy site, that people had offered to the Goddess and they had to step on those to get to the praying place. It is believed that She will grant you your wish if you go to her temple and pray. You know how you are not supposed to lie when you promise. And then there’s ‘Mother promise’ which you believed as a kid, will effect your mom if you broke it. And then there’s ‘Pathivara promise’ which is the most fearsome of all. People rarely if ever use it. That is how powerful the Goddess is believed to be.
If you say you will visit her temple then you must. This is the reason we must never utter our intentions to go. If we say it outloud then we must go anyhow. It’s like a promise we make her. Few years back, my aunty asked me if I wanted to go to the temple with her. When I asked my mom for permission she scolded me for even asking as I was going to return to college in few days and I shouldn’t have harbored such thoughts.

So this time since, we had an extra day before we returned back to Kathmandu, we set out to go the temple. It was an impulsive decison. And I didn’t inform my mom, dad or aunties… Only my brothers (cousins) knew of my plan. You are one lucky sister to have brothers who love you and do everything for you. My brother R’s motorbike had some problems so his friend lent us his. No problem there but they (he and my bro) had some work in Kathmandu and were going to take the same bike all the way to Ktm the day after so we had the bike for a day only. We were to go to the temple and come back in a day.

I was gonna go with my kid brother Abhi. He was with his friends for most part of the day. When he came home I told him “Let’s try to go to the temple and return. Eveything is set. We are leaving at 5 or 6 in the morning.” My kid brother loves riding. And because he loves me too, he was excited. But more because a biking opportunity was presented to him, I think.

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My brother “Abhi”

There are so many tales about mother Pathivara. They say people who have sinned beyond redemption cannot make it to the temple. They fall ill or even die on their way to the temple. My cousin (sister) taught me to say it like “I will go and return back”. Apparently some woman promised to bring her child back to the temple if she was blessed with one.  And when she brought the child to the temple, the child died. You are supposed to say I will bring and take back.

We started our journey without declaring our intention. This was my first time and my brother’s second time going to the temple. He had gone before with his parents when he was a little child. So, basically we didn’t know the way to the temple when we set out. This is how our 90-95 km of bike ride on the spiral road up and down the hills began.

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Beautiful scenery on our way
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We were going to the top of the hill like this one. I thought this was the one my brother pointed out to me. Apparently, I was mistaken. The one we were going to was more pointy and taller which I didn’t photograph. This is near Kabeli river where Mechi ends and Taplejung begins.

Let me tell you about my hometown

So, we reached our hometown Phidim after travelling for close to 24 hours, by bus and then by taxi from Kathmandu, covering 900 km or more in distance. Phidim is in the hills between the plains and the himalayas, in the eastern part of Nepal. It is a small town surrounded by hills on all sides. But it is not a valley. I remember asking my favourite teacher, Sir Kulman why Phidim was not a valley like Pokhara or Kathmandu although it fitted the description of a valley. He told me it was not a flat area but an uneven rolling land surrounded by hills.

We were in town for some official work. So, after we finished that we went to the local river called Hewa. There are not many places one can go in a small town. But the river is a popular picnic spot. It is one of the places student bunk school to come to on hot summer days. We had fresh river fishes in a small riverside shop. Then we tried searching for crabs (we found three), skipped stones, did the regular stuff and had fun!!

IMG_0788.JPGOn our way to the river

IMG_0780-0.JPGFish dish was tasty

IMG_0785-1.JPGFound these crabs

IMG_0747-0.JPGAlso saw a truck that had overturned in someone’s rice field.

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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve grown up in this place that I feel at peace there. Other places are more beautiful and more fun but there’s something heart-warming about my hometown. On the way to my hometown, when the terrain changes from plains to hills and the road become spiral, going up and down the hill and up and down again, like a roller coaster ride, I hate it. But when you are on the last leg of the journey and descending down the hill, you get a view of the town and your heart leaps with so much joy!!!! “Home”…your heart says and this is exactly where you feel the crappy journey was actually worth it.

IMG_0826.JPGExhibit A

IMG_0825.JPGPhidim

IMG_0768.JPGI can see my home

It’s a small place where everyone knows everyone. It’s so small that sometimes I hesitate to call it a town. There is one or two of everything like 2 colleges, 1 hospital, 1 cinema hall, 1 prison and so on. You can go anywhere within the place on foot. So, of course there’s no internal transport service, only in and out of the place. We used to walk everyday to and from school. Nowadays, motorbikes are quite popular. It’s a must have for a young male. Boys with bikes earn big points with girls. And Saturday is bazaar day, a day when there’s a Farmer’s market and people from nearby villages come to sell their produce. There’s nothing for a tourist to see here; the river, thakle temple which is at the top of a hill among huge rocks, a nearby tea estate, tupi salla which is a pine trees filled hill with a tower (another popular picnic spot) are not exactly tourist attractions. Still, there’s something about my hometown that I told my brother it’s a perfect place to live in, if only the health and education facilities were little better.