you say good bye and I say hello…

12 12 2010

‘Goodbyegoodbyeeeeeeeeee’ children spin over fields to bellow us a blur of good-bye greeting. This indicates a creative detour from the usual ‘hellohello’ that the rest of the world uses. Not so in Nepal; when cycling through a shoal of pippins on the road they whirl into life, hands manically flapping, split-peach-grins tear across their faces as they run long ribbons of ‘goodbyeeeggggooooooddddbbyyyyeeee’ in our wake as they clamber to race us. The winner managing to liberate a trophy sock that had hitherto been held captive (drying) on Liz’s back pannier!

We have been cycling for about a week in Nepal and, although the roads are bumpy and certainly taking their toll on both us and our bikes, the scenery is sublime, the traffic light and the cycling peaceful. Small groupings of neat wattle and daub farmsteads line the road. Tidy thin paths threading them together; large mushrooms of hay stand on stalk legs sheltering families of cows and buffalo; chickens, goats, cats and dogs do their usual lazy-pecking-wallowing- scratching do as the biting morning mist relaxes into a mellow midday heat. A land and a lifestyle (as yet) uncluttered by the hall marks of ‘development’; the ubiquitous stench of plastic–bag mountains, overpopulation, over-mopedisation, and the thick lung grinding emissions that have hitherto run as a constant on our road thus far.

‘I wouldn’t call it peace..maybe we are in a “peace-process”’ Dev mused over coffee yesterday morning. ‘Things are not settled yet, the Maoists still are not happy with the political reforms… it is very soon since the King has gone… it can still go either way… it is a process. A fragile process.’ Conflict, oppression, freedom and governance have been themes that have both dictated our route and underlined the lives of almost everyone we have met. Yet nestled at the heart of all these accords and missives and agreements are (and have universally been) ordinary open people. ‘Cycling will be easy for you here. For us, by bus it’s stop stop stop at every check point… all the time’ chuckled Dev wearily.
At least 4 times a day we wheel past an army check point – serious blue khaki clad young men and women peer over piles of sandbags; AK47’s held meaningfully, ready. Most will crack a beamer and throw down a ‘ggoodbyegoodbye’ when they see us though. For us to consider the wealth of tensions that must simmer here; the havoc that 10 years of civil war and dissent must have reeked on the normalcy, asks the impossible because we only see the relaxed hospitality that cushions our daily experience. Our more pressing and realistic terror comes in the form of jungle beasts! …..

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