Pokhara – Lumbini – 27 April 2017

Eva Sifis

Had a bus experience lasting over 8 hours today. Now that is saying something when taking the fairly shoddy condition of ye bus in to account. Motor-wise it was ship shape with great pick up and ‘cornered like it was on rails – ahem’, important with these corners complete with precipitous drops off one side. Mahesh told me that journeys like this are met at the end by a mechanic and full going over to ensure readiness for the next journey.

I noted many things and I am buggered as having just landed in comfy bed so here goes…

We were speaking about marriage and the fact so many ladies are left destitute (see my post about Seven Women). Mahesh assured me that one must have the proper paper to get married and that the lady must agree to a divorce. If a marriage is carried out with no paper (in other words- the parents have not approved in the first place) the lady will probably be left destitute.

Retired persons are given 1000-2000 rupees pension a month. That’s $13-$28/month.

Along the way I noted fallow terraces lining the road. I was told the farmers let their animals feed on the grass between crops. Every 3 months a new crop is planted.

Scene – huge round outcrop of hard stone protrudes from corner embankment. Evidence of attempted removal.

The roads are extremely narrow, just so one may squeeze 2 cars across. If you desire to pass the forward vehicle, you must beep to announce your presence so the preceding car can and will slow down.
The road to Lumbini was in better condition than the road from Kathmandu but it was still bumpy as. The drop of 5-700 metres off one side struck chills to my heart.

I took a pic of a large regional school named for the Fade Khole (bottom river) area.

Scene – Local woman, traditional dress, traditional beauty, sweeps her hair behind her ear and watches our progression as we bump around the corner

Scene – Local man, brown skin sheened in sweat, dressed only in sarong carries shiny metal plate along the roadside. Not sure where he is headed to.

Scene – Sunja Area District Town lady crouching fully clothed in front of closed shop, her head flipped forward while washing her long hair. She bundles it into a loose bun atop her head while I watch.

Scene – Single fronted shop, sparse products on walls, lady resting on pallet behind counter.

The bus seems dodgy and quite dirty, some seats fall back, some don’t. The bus owner actually reminds me of one of the Dodgy Brothers (remember them?)

There are about 8 foreigners, the rest are Nepali.
AC stopped working and peeps are complaining loudly. Do not delude yourself into believing Nepal to be cold all the time and at all levels because right now it’s damned hot, nearing the mid30s.
Mahesh explained to me there is a cue for the buses between Lumbini and Pokhara and it is pot luck which you get. Some vehicles are in good condition some in bad.

Scene – Supported roof structures by side of road sheltering 2-5 buffalo/cows. They are eating hay until a member of the family is free to take them to pasture. The animals can spend days there.

Scene – Passed a ‘local local’ bus absolutely packed with people and perhaps animals were in there too (chickens, sheep) there were guys hanging from the doorway. These roads are crazy narrow and there are drops of hundreds of metres off the side

Passengers complaining about state of bus and miscellaneous sounds from outside of the left side. Lady is very worried. Mahesh tells me that eventhough this bus looks a bit shoddy, it’s a long haul bus and at each destination it is required to go into the workshop for a check and overhaul. It, in fact, has a decent motor with good pick-up.

I talked to the ducks at the lunch stop. It seemed we spoke the same language! Ate Dal Baat (vego set meal) there too. I was hungry, it was all hot. Twas yummy. Sure I’ll be fine.

Been on road for 6hrs. Must be getting close to Lumbini for I notice the smog is permeating the air and the opposite hillsides are but hinting at their existence.

Scene – Village kid, maybe about 17, wearing blue jeans, dusky maroon printed t-shirt and blue and white checked shirt pulling his phone from his pocket looking up askance at the bus. He has his arm up at an angle supporting himself against the tree. I am reminded of James Dean in his casually seductive stance.

Hours into the trip Mum says at one of the many stops dropping or picking up passengers ‘you have to have a lot of patience Eva, allowing life to just happen’. I think she is learning!

There is a great difference between honouring Hindu holy men in Cambodia (I saw whilst there in 2010) and the shooing away of them in Nepal tourists spots. I was quite taken aback at this.

The roads are very affected by landslides

Scene – Lady my age sitting on a bench in front of her house at the roadside wearing red top and pants with a thin fabric brown shawl slung about her shoulders and over her pulled up leg stretching the gum she is chewing across her briefly protruding tongue.

Massive landslide evident in a huge rock, at least 3 metres across, teetering on the other side of the road contemplating dropping to join the other rocks of the river.

Scene – Lady got off the bus and a man who must have been her son met her. It was so touching to see him bend down to brush her shoes/feet. Her eyes softened and crinkled with love and of one who has been honoured. She grasped his neck in the crook of her elbow. Her smile one of exhaustion but also of one who has come home.

Leaving a city centre amid the dust of constant construction I saw a willowy feminine figure swathed in folds of chiffony orange standing atop blue plastic sheeting pouring grain from an outstretched hand. It fell to a semi circle of fine wheat at her feet.

Scene – A shack of collected trash, sheets of metal sheeting and wooden planks tacked together to fashion walls, ceiling and a flap serving as a verandah when propped out and closing the structure when not. A man seated with a poncho of plastic within as a barber carefully plies his trade.

Scene – Crouching at a metal basin in the dirt scrubbing fastidiously at clothing, a girl, perhaps 10 years old.

Tumbled piles of tree trunks, yet to be stripped of their bark lining a yard. Perhaps 10 men standing idly watching a craftsman carpenter at his trade. I saw a bed stead, the type churned off furniture factory belts at home in Australia yet this one was obviously painstakingly wrought.

And now here I am, in Lumbini in the heat.

Oh and I had some wicked news yesterday. I’m now a Peer for the Australia Council. This is a position that will last for the next three years and includes me in a pool of arts professionals assessing grant applications from the nation wide. Yay!