It is late afternoon on a crisp Spring Nepalese day and I am high in the Himalaya mountains. I am with my brother and our Nepalese friends. We are in a village called Katunge.
Say it Kar Toon Jay.
It is heaven on a stick.
As I tap away at my keypad the sun is setting behind the monolith Ganesh Himalay. It is more than eight thousand meters tall and it is the second highest mountain in the world. I have had to pause my writing to take in the spectacle. It is glorious.
OK it has taken away what little breath I had remaining.
I am sitting in a battered and sagging wicker armchair on the veranda of the Future Village Visitors centre. I am obviously gasping. When we arrived about fourty very excited mountain children were there to greet us. We laughed and played until teacher chased the last of the children away an hour or so ago.
If you have been here before you can imagine exactly where I am.
It is divine.
We thumped and bumped and shook our way up and down many mountains today - from dawn until dusk. The ‘we’ being my brother, our old friends Bhim and Dambar, and another old friend and our driver Babu.
Say it ‘Baaaar boooo”
Katunge is a difficult destination. The journey is long and bone shaking and is on perilous tracks with precipitous drops. It is at times a little terrifying. The battering is always worth the while though.
The people and the children of the Himalaya are as spectacular as the scenery in which they live and being here is a very special time. Dare I say it is spiritual?
I dare not.
I have no such strength of conviction and I have little faith in my fellow man – let alone belief in an unseen force.
I have no time for despots or deities.
The world is mostly a fucked up place but this however is a special spot – with special people. For me it is precious time and a big moment being here.
It really is.
Big moments fly past us infrequently and we all of us need them.
We must snatch them when we can.
It was an exciting day yesterday in Kathmandu. It was a day of meetings over breakfast and afternoon teas. We had breakfast with a Holy Man and then tea this afternoon with a Hillary – the grand-daughter of Sir Edmond.
Then we visited a school we are friends of and where we support a ‘Going Home” program for children who come from the faraway and very high Himalayan region of Dolpa. They are the children of Tibetan Buddhist refugees who fled the country when the Chinese occupied it.
These children are the brightest of the bright and they were selected by their schools and families to get a secondary education – which is only attainable in Kathmandu. The Dolpa region is a long way away. It is twelve-day journey of little planes and old buses and horse riding and walking.
Lots of walking.
Very steep walking.
The travel distance and cost of going home to see their families is beyond the budgets of most families so most kids will not go home at all until they finish their education. That’s twelve years. Not seeing their mums and dads and brothers and sisters for more than a decade. I can’t imagine the anguish of such separation. It is tough. It is sad.
So some friends and I help out each year and send home ten.
Kids that is.
This year eleven.
I am not sure why eleven but we don’t mind at all.
It doesn’t cost all that much – not by the standards of the people we mostly hang around with. About three hundred dollars per kid.
The school principal and his staff pick the children who are to go home and in previous years I have just sent a cheque. This year my brother and I were in Nepal just before this year’s group were due to go home so we went and met the ‘going home’ children at the school.
Eleven of them.
They are Karma and Karan and Pema and Bikash. There is Ayush and Bishwonath and Sonam and Norbu and Tsering and Anil and Dup.
None of these kids have returned to their homes for more than ten years. Not once.
I kid you not.
For nearly their entire childhood the brightest of the mountain children of Dolpa are separated from parents and grandparents. They have been apart from their brothers and sisters and their aunts and uncles. They have missed births and deaths and weddings and funerals and they have grown up alone. This is the price that must be paid for an education for the majority of the mountain people of Nepal.
The bravery and perseverance and sacrifice that is made is remarkable.
It really is.
I am an absent parent.
I know separation.
Not for ten years though. Never for ten years.
My brother has decided to stay on and go along this year with six of the eleven. He is going to a very high area of Nepal called Dolpa with Karma and Karan and Pema and with Bikash and Ayush and Bishwonath It was a spontaneous decision - to go with them. We are over here anyhow and after meeting the kids Richard just decided he wanted to see the faraway place these kids came from and to witness the long going home.
He told me that he felt compelled and it was a moment that he could not miss. I told him that I didn’t need convincing. If I were physically up for it I would do it in a blink.
I told Richard that walking at the height of the Dolpa would certainly kill me and he told me that he agreed.
My brother is younger and fitter and stronger than me and he trains and works out every day. He is a big unit.
He is a very big unit.
I will not mention nor indeed elaborate on the fact that my little brother has a very big dick. I have mentioned it before in my writing and my mother didn’t like it.
She didn’t like it at all.
Mum of course knows that we are both over here and she is worried that we are safe and well. We are Mum.
- Safe and well.
Richard sends his love.
My brother and I worry a lot when our mother worries which only worries her more.
And on it goes.
I am leaving Nepal in a couple of days but Richard won’t be going home for a while. He is going to walk home with some sensational Nepalese kids in the Dolpa region of the Himalaya. It is going to be a big walk and there are going to be big moments.
He will be on the top of the world.
The going homes that he will witness will be fantastic.
They will be sensational.