- an Unfolding Journey.

Our trip to India and Nepal, September / October 2009

Kajuraho, 23 September 2009

This little website is being put together bit by bit as we continue our journey through Northern India and Nepal.

We - Angela, Ulrike and Christoph - left South Africa for India on 16 September and flew to Delhi via Dubai. As I write these lines today, 23 September, we have progressed from there to Agra and Kujaraho and will leave later today for Varanasi, the last leg of the first part of the travel in India.

In Nepal we plan to spend a night in Kathmandu, then go to Pokhara by bus and start our 9 day trek in the Anapurna Valley and up to the Base Camp. 

I intend to write more about the journey itself, the people we met and continue to meet. But as for now, a limited selection of photographs must do... 

Kathmandu, 26 September

 We have today arrived in Kathmandu, which is such a relaxing place after the utter, mind-boggling and -bending experience of Varanasi’s old town. In the little over two days which we were there we were pushed through its infernal intestines and then suddenly up into a sort of spiritual heaven. Smells, sounds, stink and sweetness, noise and constant Om, darkest misery and poverty and sublime vibrations - there’s so many ingredients to it that you will not grasp it in one go.

Tomorrow we will leave Kath early in the morning to go to Pokhara, so we will now be offline more or less for about 12 days - no cell phone either as none of our cards seems to work here. We're really excited about this next leg of our journey, though I'd also really like to have a day or two to write more about Varanasi which is just so wild and extreme. But pen and paper also work offline, so that's what I will attempt to do in the evenings in the Nepalese tea huts.

Stay tuned - more to come!

Normally I don’t put commercial weblinks onto my private sites - this one however really deserves it: Our Nepal trip was booked through “Great Holdidays”, a local company owned and passionately run by Ram Hari Koirala. Ram’s service gives meaning to the term ‘owner managed’ - helpful, professional and with the personal touch that sets small operations like his apart from the big money makers. Yes, of course, we could probably have organized some of this (certainly not everything, like that taxi coming back to the airport in Kathmandu after I had left my bag in the trunk, which of course I only discovered on check-in ...) ourselves and saved a buck or two. But it’s not only the hassle factor that made us decide against it - it is also the knowledge that, coming from the privileged West, this “buck or two” means not so much to us, yet a lot to the people employed locally by a company like Ram’s. In other words - I recommend his service. Check him out at www.greatholidaysnepal.com


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Hamburg, 3 November 2009

Here I am, trying my best not to succumb to the relentless grip of what tries to impose itself unto the mind as the one and only real reality. I returned to Hamburg on 12 October and, as anticipated, immediately got sucked into the wormhole of first world life style - clean air, slick cars, a clock-work normality both reassuring and stifling the senses, and the particular demands of intellectual work so hard to leave behind you at day’s end. So this is, well, a kind of escapist flash back:

Flying out of Kathmandu - the pictures taken there will still have to follow - I found myself riveted to the seat as we kept on gliding along the Himalayan peaks for a good two hours, marvelling at the sharply defined line etched along the cloudless horizon, like an arrow pointing me to somewhere: East or West? West it had to be on this occasion.

Our trekking tour up the Modi Kohla Valley and into the Annapurna Sanctuary was moderately strenuous, but overwhelming and mystical, taking us through tropical vegetation right up to about 3500 meters with glimpses of the Himal peaks time and again. And then, after a further 600 meters of gradual climbing, we found ourselves at the bottom of the Annapurna Sanctuary - an amphitheatre of stark and uncompromising beauty of such wild and promising harshness that it reduces you to zero and, at the same time, takes you in and makes you feel like you are part of everything: tat twam asi.

One single moment sticks out in memory: Lying at the rim of the plateau above the Annapurna glacier Angela and I listen to the avalanches rumbling down behind a curtain of mist, the demarcation of forbidden territory. How can you be up there and not be tempted to proceed further, in the full knowledge that “dangerous” is a concept too timid to capture what you would be in for? 

If India was interesting and a challenge to the senses and your desperate attempt to remain who you are, then Nepal offered me an unexpected encounter with another I hitherto undiscovered. Perhaps it is the utter lack of a longing for judgement - which is something different to passive acceptance - that struck me most: and I am not referring to the Nepali people in the first instance, though I did experience them as a very humane and open people; welcoming, quiet and soothing after the constant madness of India which resembles a 24/7 roller coaster ride on an insane mixture of speed, acid and a massive downer. Rather it is the way the place and the people changed me and my own longing and habit to compare and measure. It’s good to realize you can do without that.

Head stuff, of course, romantic, romanticising - be my guest. But it all boils down to a simple question: Do you dare to be moved? 

Site owner:Chris Meister - 20-11-2009 - mail me at my first name, then the usual, then knysna, then a dot, then info - got it? You can’t be a robot then!