Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kathmandu to Gonda! Pt.5 - An Interlude

A ride through the Nepali Terrai into India:
KTM to Nepalgung (Indian border) – 508 km
KTM to Gonda (India) – 636 km

The ride:
Kathmandu to Mugling Bazaar – 110 km
Mugling Bazaar to Narayanghat – 34 km

The story so far:

After a ride down through the mountains and the rain out of Kathmandu, Mr Felix is down with the flu, and holed up in a hotel room in Narayanghat.

Part 5: An Interlude in Narayanghat!

On the morning of my fourth day in Narayanghat I mount up and go for a ride. I haven’t left the hotel in 48 hours and you don’t have to be a Rhodes' scholar to know I wouldn’t handle prison very well. I make a mental note to never break the law again.

I pedal slowly across to the bus station and turn left off the main drag.

Narayanghat is a surprisingly laid back town for it’s size. It sprawls out along the Trisuli River, rag-tag and dishevelled, but there’s a predominance of rickshaws over motorised traffic and the people seem friendly enough.

“Nepalis, not Indians!” I note. And thank god for that. When you’re as sick as me, the last thing you want is to be in India.

But India looms, just 'over there', and I'm heading that way and I can smell the fear. It must be a little like being a coalition soldier, waiting, waiting to go into Iraq. Yeah, Operation Mr Felix Freedom and 'we are committed!' Oh, dear.

I stop at a small general store, buy a litre of orange juice, open it up and suck it down on the spot. With luck it’ll have some vitamin C in it, but you can never be certain.

The lady behind the counter is short, sweet and smiley and surprisingly, speaks excellent English. She comes out on to the pavement and asks the usual questions and introduces her two kids, and ‘please wait a minute because they just want to show you the school project they’re working on.’

And wouldn’t you know, it’s about kangaroos. ‘Jackpot!’ for the kids, and it’s not what I had in mind but I won’t have to think too hard, so I guess I can handle it.

“Yep, I’m a genuine Ozzie, and I know ALL about kangaroos, kids!” I say, and suddenly their headlights turn on and I’m bathed in light and it’s the best I’ve felt in days, possibly weeks.

I tell them about great mobs bouncing across the Australian plains and how you can feel the earth go ‘thump! thump! thumpity thump!’ and how wonderful it is to stick your hand in the pouch of a mother kangaroo but you’ve got to be careful lest she rips you into six equal slices with her great hind feet – and I rise up and look ghastly and threatening, and then frightened, and the kids fall back and laugh, and gee, doesn’t it make you homesick.

And suddenly I’m drained. I feel like yesterday’s slice of bread, and I’ve got nothing more to give.

There’s an internet café across the street, and it’s easier to get to than back to the hotel, so I say my goodbyes and wheel the bike slowly across the road, dodge a few rickshaws, and go in.

Maybe some emails will pick me up. God, I hope none of them are abusive. When my emotional buffer is down I can handle my own demons, but external attacks are harder to absorb.

I settle into the small, grubby cubicle and Raja the owner looks pleased and turns the fan on ‘11’ and it’s nearly blowing me off the chair, so we sort that out, and he’s just about to go and get a cup of tea and 'would I like one?', and it could be worse.

Ah, the internet, what a release it is. Explorer’s opening up, and Google is coming online, and I’m floating free.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Felix,

I have you in my favorites, so have been watching for new posts. You had me worried with that long hiatus from August. Well, more I was imagining magical good times for you that put intenet at the bottom of your activities list. I find your writing to be first rate. For some reason I can't really rationalize, "Strawberry Fields Forever" is my favorite Beatles song. The late great Geo. Harrison's 'Brainwashed' a current favorite. Hope you are feeling better and better and this interlude provides what you need. Do you see any wildlife around your current location?

Thanks, I'll tell Mr. Bumpy (who still laggs around under the front porch with his bottle of cheap California wine) that you and Pumpy remain a team.


Andrew said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Mr Felix, you are a bloody legend.

Mr Felix said...

"Strawberry Fields Forever" - it's poetry!