I was relieved when the wheels of the airplane touched the ground safely today. It had been pouring like anything till the time I reached the airport at 12:45 pm and it really didn’t help that an airplane heading back to Kathmandu, after it couldn’t land at Lukla, crashed on it’s way back. All 14 on board died when the plane burst in mid-air. It was all over the news and it still is as I sit and write this in my hotel room in Biratnagar.
Hotel Xenial is a 3-star hotel and reportedly the best in Biratnagar. I wanted to see if there was any hot water in the shower but one of the knobs fell off as soon as I touched it. Someone’s TV is echoing down the corridor.
We took off, on time for Biratnagar at 1:20 pm. I closed my eyes but couldn’t doze off. Who can on a 35 minute long flight? As we approached Biratnagar, the clouds began clearing but what I could see from my window wasn’t that pleasing either.
The rivers were swelling with muddy water. The flood – I could see it from so high above, I couldn’t imagine how people were living with it. The river had spread onto farmlands, destroying several meals of those depending on it. The sun moved along with us, glistening across the wet paddy fields, as if it were chasing us. Ironically, it was a pleasing view.
The beauty of Nepal being a small country is that you can reach an entirely different place, away from Kathmandu, within minutes (i.e. on a plane). From counting the brick kilns, puffing out dark rings of smoke, in the outskirts of Bhaktapur as the plane soared above the Valley’s hills to riding a rickshaw and walking in the cluttered and busy bazaar of Jogbani in India, that lies at the border of Biratnagar – all within an hour. SURREAL!
Everything is different. The air, the smell, the weather, the taste of water, the people.
One thing is the same. NCELL!!! They are just everywhere in Nepal with the same hoarding boards and purple chaired outlets. The one in Biratnagar looked too posh and somewhat out of place.
The ride from Biratnagar, the industrial hub of Nepal, to Dhankuta is a transition from the Terai to the Hills. I find it funny to see coconut trees on the slopes of Dharan, which lies between the two places. We stop at Zero point to get water. The old Bikram tempos are still around in this place. The tempos travel vertically out here and the rickshaws, horizontally. It is difficult for rickshaw drivers to cycle uphill. We go winding up and down the hills, just like in Kalimpong, to reach Dhankuta. In moments, we move in and out of thick mists that glide across the forests in their leisurely paces.
Cows, donkeys, chickens, goats, oxen, buffaloes and people (for real)- sleeping in the middle of the road, like they own it. We dodge them all, on our way to and back. I try to take pictures but miss most of the moments. I guess it is enough to have them in my memory. Like the song goes – Fortune, fame, mirror vain, gone insane…but the memory remains!
And after a nice breakfast, but a bad night’s sleep, I am back in Kathmandu. Am home! I take a nap, leave the kurta I bought for ama on her table, eat lunch and head to work.