Photography and documentary maker

Nepal

For all the change in situation from the last 9 days, I slept miraculously well.  Mind you, with the day we’d had, it was not surprising.  The stomach seemed to have calmed down slightly, and I dared to have something resembling coffee and a bit of dried up bread with jam, but drew the line at boiled eggs, whch looked like the waiter had laid them.

What a piece of work the Nepalese restaurant is.  How infinite in task, how little in understanding.  To get a coffee requires a myriad of preparation.  First you ask for a pot.  Then the milk.  Separately.  Inevitably it will arrive a light brown colour, if you’re lucky.  Then you need to order more coffee granules.  Then you need to order a spoon.  God, it just goes on.  All that before 6.30 a.m. in the morning.

The main problem out in the west of Nepal is the heat.  We’re all dripping by 9 a.m.  and the humour degenerates accordingly.  Today we were going to meet a local party head, and the journalist of yesterday evening, who I had met briefly before expiring last night, had offered to escort us.  As Olaf and company flew about all the various meeting houses, I conducted my own tour with Nikon D300 very much at hand.

Yet something was nagging at the back of my mind.  There had been a threat of more road blocks, and after the targeting of PRESS vehicles, I felt increasingly nervous.  Olaf seemed to revel in it all, and got hold of a story about the recent sacking of a Nepalese village by Indian troops from just over the border, leaving 6000 people displaced, in Dang County.  Did I want to join him ?  Stamping on the urge to be a pussy, I immediately agreed, and the four of us set off tailing another minibus full of journalists and relief workers.

The approach was, at the road block, if they got rocks thrown, we just get the fuck out of there.  “Brilliant idea”, I gulped from the back seat, and sat back reflecting on my life and whether it was right to end it this way.  Of course, there was a total anti-climax when we got there, although one felt sorry for all the poor bastards living under a tarpaulin in a woodland area.  Some of them were playing cricket, and why not ?  I admired their spirit.  The real question was, why had Indian soldiers done this ?

Olaf had heard of another tribe and we drove over there as the last stop of the day : it became too late to drive back to Nepalgunj and we persuaded the village head to put us up for the night.  All of us were starving by now, and I chewed on pieces of chickenless chicken and burnt corn cob, although I didn’t care.  Later there was dancing, but they turned out to be transvestites.

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