Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dramatis Personae

For the sake of economy, I'm going to keep this post free of any build-up. Instead, I will dive straight into introducing the interesting characters that featured on my trip- inanimate, intangible et all. If you think what you're reading NOW is a build up, you're wrong. It's... *adopts mystical tone*... an illusion. Okfine. Bring forth the first victim.

Cha: When you've just woken up and you're hunched over in cold, when you're trying to figure out whether you really see cloud and mist and snow everywhere and it's not just you all bleary-eyed... then, to feel the hot liquid trickling down your throat and seeping into your system is like NOTHING else in the world. That's when your heart starts humming. That's when your day begins. That's when you're ready to take a bite of the light, crumbly biscuits from the local confectionary.

Queen of the Party: Daju is the Nepali equivalent for bhaiya. Since it's the only Nepali I know, it gave me great pleasure to use it wherever I could. Over the course of 8 days I met multiple dajus, but one really stood out. This guy is tall and skinny. His face is weatherbeaten and it's constant expression is a blend of solemn and obliging. THIS guy owns a T-Shirt that says 'Queen of the Party.' Just that. No baubles, no loops, no hint of a feminine colour. It's like- 'I'm not gay. I'm not metrosexual. I'm just the Queen of the Party, dude. Deal with it.' It won me over right away :D

Mount Kanchenjungha: Now, we have seen this mountain so many times. But not too many times. For some strange reason, we just can't get enough of it. Is it the hype? Geography-class Nostalgia? The stature, the sight of sunlight on snow? Whatever the reason, it always left us feeling overwhelmed. Sunrise or sunset, viewpoint or chance glance, cameras always clicked like crazy around it. And when it was dim, we tried to discern its outline through the clouds. Knachenjungha, you be da cool one.

The Batu: Batu aka Bangali Tourist. You'll know them at the beach by the boudis. They wade ankle-deep into the water, (squealing at the great risk they're taking), with their saris billowing out like sails. Their husbands look on, positively satiated with pride and indulgent affection. The men sprinkle a few drops of salty water on their wives' heads and together, the couples wade back on shore, beaming as wide as the horizon behind.

In the mountains, they can be identified just as easily. Look out for the brown Monkey Cap. Their determination to reach the end of the steepest uphill path, even if they're withered and wilting by the end of it.

And then you have general characteristics- The gleam that flickers in their eye and the questions that hover on their lips when they catch sight of another Batu. And they WILL eat at the Kakababu restaurants. The ones that serve Bangali food. Or else they'll find some other means of procuring familiar food. I swear we saw a man with a fish tucked under his arm, marching towards his hotel with the intention of eating Maachh Bhaja for lunch.

The Stream: I caught sight of it on my first morning walk. Braced by the mountain air, I was in the mood to climb anything remotely climbable. That's what I did too. Totally unequipped in terms of footwear, I slid and scraped and clutched and praised the firmness of roots. And then I happened to see the stream. I was desperate to go down there and we even found a path leading to it- a deliciously narrow, winding little trail that led through the woods.
However, the kids who accompanied me decided not to take it because there were people bathing at a point ahead. I don't know if they were just being awkward adolesents or whether I have lost all sense of shame altogether but I was very miffed. If people were bathing in a public place, they were obviously aware of the risks. I wasn't going there to leer or lech goddammit! But we discovered another way to it.
Hop onto a ledge.
Carefully, turn around and let yourself drop onto the ground below. A light graze. Who cares? The stream is calling!
Walk over moss and bracken. Don't slip. There's a foothold! NO NO, that's a pit! Ahh, finally.
Bare feet on cold stone. Colder water running over bare feet. Gurgling sounds set the background music to faint voices in the distance. Wild flowers lend their touch of colour. And the leaves, determined not to be left behind, are just as bright as any flower ever was. VIC-TOW-REEE.

The Nepali DSP: He write shayries in Nepali and Bangla. I don't know whether he saw the latent Batuness in my mum, but he zoned in on her like a surveillance camera out of 1984. He spouted many lines, including these-

Kashboner pechhon theke nodi dekhte bhalo laage.
Bashboner pechhon theke chaand dekhte bhalo laage.
Aar tumi jokhon guti guti paaye amar pash diye doure jao,
Tomar pechhon thekei tomake dekhte ekdom darun laage!

(I like watching the river flow behind fields of kashphul.
I like watching the moon behind bamboo forests.
And when you run past me on secretive little feet,
To watch you from behind yourself is simply marvellous!)

He even sang the Nepali version of a popular Rabindra Sangeet and asked my mum to join in with the original. It sounded beautiful- light, tripping and very rich at the same time.

The thing is, not for a moment did he give the vibes of a show-off. He seemed like the most uncomplicated soul on earth- in love with languages, and with entertaining people. I for one was entertained.

And there was so much more: Adda over beer and ginger snips. Bluff tournaments. The furry, floppy-eared mountain dogs. Singing at the top of our voices to counter motion sickness on long drives. I can't write on everything, but I'll try to remember it anyway.

P.S- If you're wondering where I went, it was Mirik :P

15 beep/s:

joey said...

Took the trip with you.Thanks.

Mer-curial-maiden said...

Stream and Floppy eared dogs <3

Rick said...

You occasionally sound like a kid!

I like the D.S.P kind of people. they make life easier.

The Batu...:D lol!

blinknmiss said...

Not Batu. Botu. Boka tourist. The kind with Duckback water bottles around their necks, bless them.

Trisha said...

queen of the party. <3 !!! heart heart you :D

Prince of Mirkwood said...

Why is there always a guy who seems to know a lot of 'shayri'? Hell, I bumped into one on a Sundarban trip...and this one used to be a poacher before he turned poet!

I see you had fun on your trip:D

Death On Two Legs said...

@Rick- I do? :O In the easily excited way I hope, and not immature.

@Shalmi- Bless them :)

@Joey, McM, Trisha- Thanks!

@PoM- No shit? That's really interesting.

Sroyon said...

@PoM: Your guy sounds like a new age Valmiki.

Anonymous said...

it used to be TBT for me. the kind with the shrieking sari clad mother running after monkeycap clad potol shouting "potol odike jash na pahar theke pore jabi".

Anonymous said...

TBT = Typical bangali tourist. But i suppose batu/botu is snarkier.

Death On Two Legs said...

Yes. Potol =D Another name is Puti.

Kirra Serra said...

I must admit, I am one those people who get this unexplainable kick out of trekking some gnarled mountain path just to see if I can.
I have never met any poets but there is always, invariably, a good cook. And it suits me just fine. :D

Dipankar Lahiri said...

Hehehaha is all I can manage. Very amusing. I can very easily imagine the 'queen of the party' and the monkey capped batus. Those are toh everyday attractions in those places. And way more entertaining than staring at white hills.

KD said...

arre the botus are all over the world,i dont know how they do it.
@blinknmiss-i always knew em as botus too

Haddock said...

That was interesting.