Time spent away from the daily grind forces you to assess where, in life, you have been - and
where you would like to go.
Back in England, perversely, I had always wanted to return here to Nepal, but now I was back here,
I wanted to get back home to the UK. I wanted to make amends with my family, but for the
time being I was out on a limb with a crick in my neck and very little to eat.
Resting up in the extraordinary, relatively high-altitude village of Langtang, the importance of
family hit hard.
Myself and Yogesh breezed in on a sunny-side-up Saturday afternoon in high spirits, just as
the entire village effectively shut down and turned its back on any outsiders.
The village was in mourning for one of the community's elders who had just died a few days previous,
and the only thing on the minds of his peers was ensuring that his soul made a swift,
smooth and overwhelmingly safe passage into the sanctuary of the spirit world.
Oblivious to the intensity of various Buddhist beliefs, upon arrival in the charmingly eccentric village I simply watched a fevered throng of humanity (every man, woman and child who lived for a good five miles around) gather together in a closed courtyard. As they collectively prayed so did I, feeling lost and lonely and sorry for myself.
The chants rose and fell, as sing-song rhymes underscored the pain and grief that these people were passionately expelling. I thought about how death is embraced in the Western World in comparison. Out West, death isn't so much 'embraced' as it is 'feared.'
Yogesh knew people who lived in Langtang, and thus joined in with the proceedings, leaving me to set up camp (which consisted of one poky tent a piece). As the beautifully enchanting wails continued long into the night, long after darkness had fallen outside and I had been fitfully sleeping for a couple of blessed hours, I awoke with a sudden shudder and felt a striking compulsion to thrust my head out of the tent flap.
A low murmur of voices were detected, though my ears did need syringing badly. But the voices were getting louder, and as I certainly wasn't approaching the voices that could only mean on thing… the voices were headed my way. They were coming for me, but I had no idea why.
As I was being dragged head-first out of my tent just a minute later, I was still none the wiser. Three men and six hands made light work of my supple frame. Far from being aggressive, the men acted assertively, and for some bizarre reason, I never felt as though to fight against their advances was in any way a necessity. I went with the flow, just like I always had done in life.
Hauling me to my bare feet out in the open, I couldn't see any of the faceless men before me. It was pitch black, and the only thing that stirred was my interest in these men who couldn't wait to see me until the morning. Saying not a word between them, a phantom pair of hands gently bound mine behind my back in one swift majestic gesture. They didn't want me going anywhere, and that was fine by me. Where on earth could I have gone?
The one outstanding image of that deep dark night that did stand out was a far-off shelf of alluringly stark snow that looked to be ethereally suspended mid-distance between heaven and earth. The mountains upon which the snow so gracefully rested could not be detected… just the brilliant white snow, visually providing a bed for the stars above to marvellously cluster upon.
Ironically, in the dead of night I had never before felt so alive. Indeed, there really is tenderness in malice, just like there is beauty in the face of the ugliest compromise.
Fiction - Kat Out of the Bag Chapter Six By Steve Rudd
Support for any given country's government can be a funny thing, but never hilarious.
The Maoist rebels in Nepal, in an ideal world, would have the government of the
landlocked country instantaneously overthrown.
Fiction - Kat Out of the Bag Chapter Five By Steve Rudd
Sitting down for dinner in Syabru, with neither friends nor family for thousands of miles around,
I resigned myself to the fact that I was on my own.
Yet it's surprising how conversations can take off with complete strangers, as I
Fiction - Kat Out of the Bag Chapter Four By Steve Rudd
Kathmandu is both toxic and intoxicating. As soon as you get there you want to leave, to escape the evil
wrath of smog that clogs the arteries and stifles all sense of being. Like most cities in the
Fiction - Welcome To Hellville - Part 2 By Rich Mills
The filter system in Panal(The aging-should-know-better-arty-farty-toss cafe bar that
should have been closed down 30 years ago.) must have been faulty. I'm still feeling really crap
this morning, two days on now. Either that or I'm coming down with a wet season cold.
Which is a major pain in the arse
Fiction - Welcome To Hellville - Part 1 By Rich Mills
After recent heavy rains I'm now trapped in the flat. The Wet Season is fully upon us now, it seems to arrive earlier each year. Not that I'd mind tropical storms if we got the tropical summer to go with it. Instead this summer was cold and grim, as it has been since as long as I can remember.
My Dad does talk
Fiction - Firm but Fair By Mark Pollard
Cry-Baby Jim Breaks. He pioneered it, they say.
And the hushed, almost ecclesiastical tones of Ken Walton had heralded it's
entry into Saturday afternoon folklore: the bright lights of
Blackpool and Great Yarmouth, down to the lesser reputes of Ilfracombe and
Skegness had all borne witness
Fiction - Puzzles By Denis Price
I've got a really nice room, when the door's closed I feel ever so safe and warm. It's quiet as well,
just the swish of the wind in the trees outside. I like the trees; they hide the big tall fence.
My watchers say the fence is there to keep me safe, and that's their job too, they're always there
Fiction - COLD WAR TALES- THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS By Denis Price
The piercing insistent wail of the siren woke him. `For Christ`s sake now what!` Over the tannoy the
smooth expensive voice intoned languidly that this was only a drill and that all personnel
should continue with their normal duties.
He groaned and thought, this is my normal
Fiction - Scrawls Of The Unexpected By Mark Pollard
Professor Colin Pillinger, lead scientist on the Beagle II programme, was calm but well pissed off
inside. He had been clinging to the idea that his £35 million Mars Probe was stuck in a crater,
waiting for some narrow rays of sunlight to banish the shade for a few precious hours each day
in order that
Fiction - The Art Of Being Alone In A Crowded Bar By Rich Mills
What music are you into, man? The American exchange student who had earlier introduced himself, without any regard for Jean-Paul's need to be alone, suddenly threw a curve-ball of a question in his direction.
Well I listen to... What followed was a definitive list of bands from Jean-Paul's wide ranging rare vinyl