originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

still feeling ceremonial (or should that be colonial...?)

We walk up to the school from our lunch stop to find all the pupils and teachers out to greet us with more garlands. We walk round the square (assembly space?) to the music of 'Namaste' in a variety of melodic registers, until reaching a long, narrow table set in the shade for us.

They have prepared a show of dancing and singing, specially for our visit.
Not only that, but they have used their precious resources to copy an A4 sheet about the school in the hope that we might add our personal efforts to those of Community Action Nepal (the fundraising arm of CAT) in helping equip and maintain this school. The English is quaint ('Peoples of different spices and religions stay here') and the dates a little disturbing, given that the Buddhist (I think) calendar is calculated differently ('Our school, Jaya Devi Lower Secondary School, purano Duwar, was established on the date of 22nd paush 2039') but the message remains clear.
It's a very emotional experience.
I can't imagine going to a school like this - and would I just accept the backdrop as normal, or would constant exposure somehow make me a more spiritual person?
A lot of the children here will have walked the same path we have today from Taksar - just to get to school; and it's taken us hours!

The charming and beautiful performances over, we head to our camp - accompanied by most of the school, it seems - to plunder our bags for the notebooks, pens, pencils etc. that we brought to give out.
Our porters have already set up camp when we arrive.
And they've set up a shower.
And - can you believe this - some of the enterprising villagers have carted up crates of beer and bottles of water and set up a beer stall.
What do you do after a terrific walk? Glug a few refreshing beers...
So I did. It would have been rude not to...

The afternoon is spent chatting with each other and with a group of young lads who visit to enlist our support for a building for their community. Dilli Raj is their spokesman; keen to practise his English, he presses us for our email addresses and promises to write. We are all impressed with his courtesy and enterprising spirit - our UK teenagers come in for some unfavourable comparisons... (sorry Ath - with a few notable exceptions!)

We happen to be camped at what appears to be the cultural centre of the area - i.e. there are a couple of shelters, one of which, after the cooking of our meal, doubles as a kind of dressing room/tiny performance space. The villagers have planned more entertainment for us...

The cultural evening is a kind of cross between (what sounds like) a political rally and a cabaret. There is (naturally) more dancing, and at the end, those of us who haven't sloped off to bed join in.
Another beer (or two) to round off the evening...
And a great deal of star-gazing... so many shooting stars!

I'm reminded of the film 'Touching the Void' where Joe lies looking at the stars and feels like he's locked into eternity; although I'm in nowhere near the physical or mental state he was in by that point in his ordeal, I think I get an inkling of how he must have felt.

I'd never looked at the night sky long enough to watch the stars gently moving across the heavens before - not even at Durdledoor...
Now I have!

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...