Friday, October 21, 2005

Kathmandu to Gonda Pt.12 - Kathmandu Day 1!

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:
On his search, Mr Felix has ridden through Hell, died in the bathroom, been visited by the Ghosts of Lovers Past, fallen down a mineshaft and most surprising of all, found the Green Gibbon. It’s now 5 in the morning, and he’s on the roof of his hotel in Narayanghat, taking a tea break and thinking about how all of this started.

Part 12: Kathmandu – Day 1!

I arrive at Bangkok International in November 1974 jumping out of my skin. I’m 21, green as all get out and as hungry as hell.

Asia – let’s eat!

The first thing I noticed when I got through customs and entered the main concourse was a man in uniform holding a machine gun who sidled up to bot a cigarette off me.

I guess he could see the large, brightly lit neon sign above my head flashing: ‘Newbie!-blink Newbie!-blink’, not that you’d have had to be clairvoyant to pick it up.

Well, you never argue with a man holding a gun and that’s one rule in Asia I’ve never wavered from.

I gave him a fag and he declined a light and wandered off without a word. No problem! Happy to help the Thai military any day, sir.

I climbed on a local bus and we took off down the highway like a bat out of hell, which was just fabulous.

The road from the airport in those days was a potholed wriggling mess, and the bus sped and wove and lurched, and motor bikes screamed by and wove and lurched, and the Thais standing in the aisle of the bus fell back and forth and I sat wedged into the rear seat with a couple of other backpackers and looked around and recognised a state of mind I’d almost forgotten about - unbridled joy.

Ah, Bangkok, what an entrée.

A few days later I’m walking down Freak Street in Kathmandu. It’s alive with hippies and a score of Magic Buses are lined up on New Road offering trips to Goa, Sri Lanka, Kashmir and all the way back to Europe. It couldn’t get more exotic.

One hundred bucks will get you to London, even.

Not bad, but I’ve got four months and I’m going to bus it, train it and hitch if I have to down through India, up through the Khyber Pass and into Afghanistan and Iran, and then one way or another make it into Trafalgar Square under my own steam.

That was the plan, and as I walked through the Durbar Square chatting to bearded Frenchmen in beads and kaftans, and longhaired Norwegian girls in beads and kaftans, it looked like a shining plan indeed.

I was so engrossed in this magical landscape of strange colour and form that I walked all the way back to my guesthouse past the Chi & Pie in Maru Hiti, a distance of half a kilometre, completely absorbed in smell.

When I got the door and woke up, I had no recollection of the short journey other than the pungent and mysterious aroma of Nepal.

I was in another world, close to heaven, intoxicated, and I wanted to be here, and what a difference that was to the forced march I was undertaking at home under Emperor Napoleon.

Of course it was all a dream, but I didn’t know it then, but dad, a.k.a. Napoleon, did, as I was soon to find out - but what would he know?

Dream-shmeam, it smelled like freedom to me and like your big Hollywood break, I knew it would only walk in the door once.

That evening I sat on the roof of the guesthouse and watched the sun go down over the Bagmati River and felt a great sadness welling up in me. Reality, that great leaden weight that refused to float away, was pulling me down again, and along with it my big Hollywood break (all 12 hours of it!).

I was in a very deep hole indeed, I realised, and shining plan or no shining plan, at the end of it all I was due back in the engineering department with the rest of the inmates come March 23rd, and the thought horrified me.

What to do?

Walk out on four years of toil and sweat at the university with only a year to go? My dad would never forgive me. Living with Emperor Napoleon you learned to withstand a lot, but cowardice? Gee, they shoot you for that.

I might as well tell dad that I wanted to be a poet as tell him that I wanted to leave the university and trip the light fantastic in Nepal.

No, I needed a genuine reason to leave, and one I could stand by, and I didn’t have one, dream or no dream.

Deep inside, when I tracked it along the echoing corridors of my mind, I knew this whole intoxicating world was a dream. The way it stood it may have been escape, but it wasn't freedom.

It didn’t have substance, and Napoleon wouldn’t be Napoleon if he couldn’t smell a ruse when it was served up at the dinner table. And that’s one thing about living with the likes of Mr Bonaparte - you may hate his guts, but he keeps you honest.

Yeah, I was in a bind, but I had four months to work it out, so I wandered off and got myself a large plate of daal-baht and spent the next two hours on the loo, and loving every minute of it, as fools do.

2 comments:

Pumpy said...

The Story So Far:

1. Me and Mr Felix cycle around the world our whole lives together (well Asia anyway)
2. Mr Felix leaves me in Mugling Bazaar, balancing on an old chair, with a noose around my neck, because of a dispute over three dollars
3. I get rescued by some very friendly Indian businessmen, who later turn out to be freak sex-slave traders
4. Mr Felix finally gets a severe attack of the guilts (or something from the dark side) in a cheap Narayanghat hotel and starts hallucinating
5. I'm trapped in a freak sex slave parlour in Mumbai, but am learning lots of new tricks
6. Some of my customers issue a Fatwa on Mr Felix
7. Mr Felix does the hallucination thing even more
8. I have major problems sitting, but I can now fart silently


Part 3: The Missing Pony Tail


Feely,


Things are getting even more out of hand for me here and I'm not sure that I can cope anymore. I think I'm having major existential issues again!

OK, so you have had a few things on your mind too, but I now understand that you don't really care about me at all anymore.

But I've now been sold to one of my 'regulars'; a Bollywood freak sex movie producer and I'm playing the leading role in "Mr Pumpy and the Missing Pony Tail".

Please have some sympathy; this is all your fault! I used to think that 'sordid' meant going without a shower for a day. I thought a pony tail was a long hairy thing on the back of a pony, not something for plugging holes!

I'm finding it very painful to rehearse, which makes the number of takes required for each scene even more excruciating. The dancing scenes are good though and I think I'm quite good at that.

I don't know where all this is heading, but there's now a rumour going around that my next movie is going to be, "Mr Pumpy Does Mumbai".

Apart from never being able to walk normally again, I'm very worried what the long term effect of all this is going to be.

It's going to take me a very long time to ever cope with a bicycle seat again.

Feely, you have to let your 'Dark Side' go. I know it gives your 'smoking ash-heap' life some meaning, but you've been behaving very strange ever since you visited Mr Pot's grave and began the midnight chanting thing.

Digging down into his grave to try and shake hands with him was definitely one of the most interesting things I've ever known you to do.

But you nearly ended up with your arm being amputated with that infection you got, by that nice helpful doctor in Sisophon.

It seems like you really have changed a lot. When did you learn to speak Cambodian fluently? However, this self-exorcism thing in Narayanghat sounds like it may help. Keep up the good work.

However, please don't make up stories about the green gibbon. We all know you mean me, in a twisted sort of way.


Yours Sincerely,
Pumpy

Pumpy said...

The Story So Far:

1. Me and Mr Felix cycle around the world our whole lives together (well Asia anyway)
2. Mr Felix leaves me in Mugling Bazaar, balancing on an old chair, with a noose around my neck, because of a dispute over three dollars
3. I get rescued by some very friendly Indian businessmen, who later turn out to be freak sex-slave traders
4. Mr Felix finally gets a severe attack of the guilts (or something from the dark side) in a cheap Narayanghat hotel and starts hallucinating
5. I'm trapped in a freak sex slave parlour in Mumbai, but am learning lots of new tricks
6. Some of my customers issue a Fatwa on Mr Felix
7. Mr Felix does the hallucination thing even more
8. I have major problems sitting, but I can now fart silently
9. I'm sold to a Mumbai freak sex movie producer
10. I become a big Bollywood movie star


Part 4: Better Angels


Felix,

I have now become very famous.

My picture, with me dancing, is plastered all over India.

I've made lots of rupiah - I am filthy rich.

I answer to no one - sort of.

I buy a gold plated mountain bike - but I can't ride it, yet.

Money has no meaning.

I have started my own freak sex slave parlour in Mumbai and I also run some other freaks.

I've changed my name to Mr Pimpy.

I take over all the sex parlours in Mumbai

Life is, different, sort of.

Feely, listen to me.

There's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil.

And good does not always triumph.

Sometimes the Dark Side overcomes what Lincoln called 'the better angels of our nature.'

Therein, man has got a breaking point.

You and I have.

You have reached yours. And very obviously, you have gone insane.


Kind Thoughts,
Pumpy

PS: Sorry about the Fatwa thing. I couldn't stop them. Don't worry too much though, they'll probably forget all about it, one day.