No tractor to Tatipokhari

September 18, 2010

Working in the midst of all sorts of obstacles. We have to wait for the monsoon to end in order to get a tractor to deliver the bricks and the language barrier is getting thinner as I learn more, but it makes each conversation much longer. I have an ‘intern’, who goes by the name of Will, working with me and we are working to minimize costs. I hoped to post some pictures that I’ve taken, but the computer is not recognizing my memory card.
Will and I dug the septic tank. It is about 2 meters cubed. We broke through many layers of rock with a pick axe and we’re ready to start laying bricks… but we have to wait until the rain stops to get a tractor-load of bricks to the project site.
The only cost so far is one shovel, as we’ve been able to borrow the various other tools necessary. I hope to soon post the construction costs and pictures of the work-in-progress.

foreign friends in Kathmandu

August 21, 2010

While considering the pros and cons of separate holding tanks for urine and feces in a toilet for a non-agriculturalist family, my friend from Spain, the middle-aged family man who loves the act of lovemaking and defends and participates in prostitution, this friend invites me to try the food at his favorite Tibetan restaurant. We discuss love and specifically the physical act of sex. His view of the relationship between man and woman is based on hedonism and he enjoys seeing a woman experiencing pleasure, even when it involves a fee. If you feel uncomfortable or shy reading about sexual, my friend would consider it his mission to help you to free yourself from your personal repression. He’s a caring and attentive person, but I have difficulties with his view of women as prospects.
My belief in a man’s ability and necessity to gain strength from unforeseen difficulties and to see these difficulties as blessings is a view that hedonists cannot hold. I think these thoughts of mine have come from reading Victor Hugo and Ayn Rand. 


In my current situation this view is a survival mechanism. Daily I focus on the survival of my soul and it’s ability to see the beauty in the world. I don’t mind the melancholy, so long as it’s personal and meaningful. I accompanied the Spaniard to a dance bar, though he wanted to find paid sex that night (he had already had paid sex that afternoon). We shared a bottle of Tuborg with our rickshaw driver at the second dance bar, which was as bad as the first and I decided that these places are a waste of time and money. I am in survival mode. In this mode, I believe that it is necessary to assess my sense of life through my perceptions. I’ve decided that reading Immanuel Kant’s ‘Critique of Judgment’ to form and understand aesthetic abstractions. I am currently surrounded by beauty which is the objectified reality of the artist’s own sense of life. There is the art of man as the art of the divine that I can identify with. As Ayn Rand says in The Romantic Manifesto, ‘the pleasure of contemplating the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life is the pleasure of feeling what it would be like to live in one’s ideal world… a moment of love for existence.’ 

Back to the dance bar. As I was sitting watching some bad dancers having a good time on the stage, I saw one of the employees, a young lady, sitting alone and looking bored. I just gave a warm smile and she smiled back. Then the Spaniard, seeing my interaction, starts asking me if I want her and all such talk going right to the point, as is his style. When I look back, she had sensed the tone of the conversation through the wily smile and hungry looks of the Spaniard and was no longer smiling at me. It was then time to leave. 

The next day I go to see a singing competition at a Nepali restaurant with a Gandharba friend and two other guys that end up not having any money after ordering a drink (the foreigner is expected to pay for his ‘friends’). 

a singing competition.. I danced like a true Nepali 🙂

There is wonderful dancing, singing between men and women and live instrumental music. This is a tradition of the Brahmin caste I’m told. I dance Nepali style with some other men in front of the stage and have a great time. It’s a wonderful evening until the bill comes and then it seems that it is traditional for the foreign caste to pay.

Plans change

July 2, 2010

I wake up at 5:53 am, seven minutes before the alarm on my phone is set to wake me. The sky looks clear and for a few seconds I believe that Nandu and Chamu will accompany me to Hiramani glacier, which I’m excited about since it’s not on the map of Kumaon. After those few seconds pass, I remember the deep feeling that these guys are all talk and despite the nice feeling I had from sharing utta with the goatherd, I am looking forward to leaving these guys to be on my own. The scenery somehow is more magnificent when there is no one telling me how magnificent the scenery is.

‘The jeep is coming,’ Chamu says. I’m not ready to leave. I could either wait on more hour for another jeep or walk from Leti to Sama, the latter having both economic and health benefits. After walking for some time I spot a jeep turning around in a small village which I mistake for Sama. He picks me up and w argue that he will take me to Kalek for Rs. 30 after he initially asks for Rs. 150. He drops me at Sama and says it will cost me Rs. 200 fo him to take me to Kalek, 3 km away where I can catch the trail to Sikar Mandir (temple), another 6km walk up a mountain. I pay him for cheating me and walk from Sama to Kalek where I have omelette, chapatis and chai while I learn a few more Hindi words.

This pilgrimage is an arduous task. My pack is weighing me down and I’m continually sweating. Something has to go to make this pack lighter.

resting on the way to Sikar

The trek up to Sikar is beautiful, but I’m not in shape yet, so I cannot fully enjoy it unless I enjoy the pain little and think about how much more endurance and strength I’m building with each heave towards the summit.

Sikar Mandir entrance

Tige, tige, they keep telling me. Besides the babji, there are four other men at the Mandir. I see them pouring a new concrete ground and I wonder how long they work there and how often and who pays them for their work, but I don’t know the words in Hindi that I need to ask these questions. I also would like to spend more time with baba, but he doesn’t seem interested in this foreigner. He just wants me to relax.


Please help me promote my new organization which is raising funds to build toilets in Nepal. Click on the Facebook link below and click here: Charpi Development Organization

Charpi Development Organization

Waiting in Leti

July 1, 2010

I’m staying with Cahmu Singh Korungla and his mother in Leti. The area is called Napani. Last night he is sure to make plans for us to go to Sikar in the morning and return by evening. He repeats his plans over and over again adding that we’ll go to a nearby mountain the day after to get a view of the Himalayas. After repeating his plan so many times he asks, ‘Should we go to the nearby mountain tomorrow and Sikar the next tomorrow?’ ‘I’m OK with either plan,’ I tell him. ‘We’ll go to the mountain in the morning, then Sikar the next tomorrow, then Pindari glacier the next tomorrow.’

After a nice long sleep in my new warm sleeping bag, Chamu tells me his new plans of going to the mountain view in the afternoon and going to Mringthuni glacier instead of Pindari glacier because Pindari glacier is closed. This is the first I’ve heard of Pindari being closed and I don’t think I believe him.

my host and his goatherd brother

So far there’s been a lot of talk, but I will wait patiently to see if he knows the area as well as he says he does. All of a sudden he tells me that he may have to leave for Haldwani tomorrow and stay for a few days. Of course everything happens all-of-a-sudden, it’s expectation that cause perceptions of time to become insufficient.

So many plans being made. I’m enjoying his hospitality, but it seems silly to keep making such general itineraries. I’ll wait and see.


Please help me promote my new organization which is raising funds to build toilets in Nepal. Click on the Facebook link below and click here: Charpi Development Organization

Charpi Development Organization

Heading north in Kumaon

June 30, 2010

It’s 6:30 am. I’m not tired but sitting up doesn’t appeal to me at all, so I clutch the pillow and bury my head into it. It’s 7:30. It’s 8:00.

river in Bageshwar or Bharari... I don't remember

I sit up, turn on the television and start packing up my crap so I can get myself out of Bageshwar. Leaving my books with the owner of the hotel, I eat and find a shared jeep to Bharari. There are no views of the jagged Himalaya due to cloud cover, but the foothills are beautiful themselves. When I get up to Bharari I’m told that thee are no shared jeeps to Jhopra and that, while my 25 km ride from Bageshwar was Rs. 30 the 30 km ride to Jhopra will be Rs. 600. I start slapping my legs and saying ‘these are very good… and free!’ and I communicate to them that I plan to walk to Jhopra rather than paying what I’ve set as my daily allowance for a ride there.

they just finished dumping cut grass

‘My brother… near Sikar,’ a man on a motorcycle says. Sikar temple is a 3 km walk beyond Jhopra and is my destination. ‘I going tomorrow,’ he adds. ‘Brother, Sikar,’ his friend adds. It keeps going like that with five guys repeating over and over about this motorcycle guy’s brother living somewhere around Sikar. You wouldn’t believe it, but there is actually very little that I can do to quell this seemingly needless repetition, because there turns out to be a reason for it. These men are excited to help me and excited to do so in whatever broken English they can speak, so I nod patiently until they are satisfied.
The man on the motorcycle says ‘brother, baba, Sikar.’ ‘Your brother is a sadhu?’ I ask. This is not the case and it starts up another round of excited repetition. In any case, I’m looking forward to spending time with another sadhu. I always feel a peaceful challenge when in the presence of a strong person of faith. Another man joins the group and I’m enthusiastically informed that he is also a teacher and he knows English. ‘There’s a taxi stand on the other side of the river,’ the teacher says. ‘You stay my house,’ the motorcycle man says. ‘He’s lying,’ the teacher says. ‘Oh, he’s lying? You mean he’s joking?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘OK, then I’ll go to the taxi stand.’
Arriving in Jhopra, it’s pouring rain and I would have to walk to Sikar right away because there are no hotels. That’s when this guy who’s riding in the jeep, Chamu, tells me to ride for another 8 km and stay at his home.

my host's house

Of course I accept his hospitality. When we reach, I meet his mother, who is a striking lady in worn traditional clothing squatting inside the mud house preparing a bit of rice, dhaal and curd for her dear son and his foreign visitor.

Chamu's family's kitchen

After the huge snack Chamu goes off to ask a friend to accompany us on a walk to view the Himalayan panorama. He can’t just call the guy because there is no network service here. While Chamu is finding his friend, I practice my headstand and meditate until he comes back. As it gets dark, he lights the oil lamp and we talk for hours.

… and must needs have desires …

June 29, 2010

In this rented room in Hotel Nilewshwar in Bageshwar, when the power went out, a profound sense of loneliness so quickly left me. For the first time in a long time I am alone watching commercials. These commercials make me feel like I need things that I don’t have. When the power goes out I have everything that I need.

I’ve got a knife

June 28, 2010

‘Are you a crack head?’

‘Don’t be rude,’ I said. ‘Crack heads carry knives and one of these days you’re going to get yourself hurt.’

Now he really thinks I’m crazy, but I needed those pictures of the holy men and I was told that they’d be ready yesterday, not knowing that every shop in Almora was closed yesterday. My addiction isn’t to crack. I’m addicted to functional service which this guy has never experienced. Here, the customer is always the crack head.

Did I get my pictures? Damn right I did. A threat in India, even an implied threat, is always answered with action and everyone knows it’s bad news to fight a crack head.

No that I have my coffee, all is well and I can read in peace until Sanjay Singh Bisht arrives at the Bansal Espresso Bar and we can talk bansuri.

Losing mind

June 27, 2010

While looking for a bus to leave Haldwani, I had a blank mind. No worries or concerns. I got on a bus and made myself a little comfortable. After about 15 minutes, I realized that I had changed my mind without really thinking about it. Here I am riding on a bus to Almora, when I had decided this morning to get on a bus to Haridwar and go to Uttarkashi. Divine will is the guide of those who lose their minds.

Reading, making notes and writing letters while drinking coffee at Bansal Espresso Bar in Lala Bazar, Almora is a pleasant way to spend this Sunday. On Rajul Bansal’s business card is a ridiculous picture of a colonial style dining room and twenty-person tabl with white linen and fine china. Not an appropriate image for an espresso bar filled with wooden tables and benches and not what I’d expect from Rahul since he is a decent artist.

Complete thoughts on Haldwani

June 26, 2010

Today I did some yoga, went to an internet café with a terrible network and ate. People begged for my money and attention and all of the pretty females are married. I’m leaving Haldwani tomorrow and may never return.

Should I go to Nepal?

June 24, 2010

The guy pedaling me to the India-Nepal border must be about seventy years old. I’m still not sure whther they’ll let me cross into Nepal. The Himalayan foothill silhouette is magnificent and I’m intimidated by what lays beyond. I talk to the border inspector, who is young and in plain clothes, about the World Cup and he gives a big smile, opens up today’s newspaper and tells me that Argentina won against some team and some team won against Nigeria. After that, it’s all questions. I didn’t expect what came next, although the LIU inspector in Nainital had told me the same thing. I thank the border inspector and ask the rickshaw peddler to take me back to Banbasa. I’m not going to Nepal today.

Back in Banbasa I have tea and catch a bus to Haldwani where we drive through a river, which has risen, and the bus is flooded temporarily. The next direct bus to Uttarkashi is, I’m told, at 5:30am tomorrow so I walk around looking for a room for Rs. 200. I begin to get tired and a bit grumpy at too many expensive hotels that I just walk into an office building and ask a group of employees where I can find dormitory accomidation. One of the guys, dressed in a surprising clean white shirt say ‘this is an office building.’ ‘I know, but you or you or you or you or you might know where I can find a place to sleep tonight,’ I say pointing at each office worker in the room. ‘Dharamsala,’ one guy says and gives me directions. To make a long story half as long, I end up booking a Spartan but large room athe Ashok Hotel across from the Hindi dharmsala off of Rumpur Road behind Standard Sweets for Rs. 200.

When the boarder inspector had informed me that the date on my registration papers determines how long I can stay in India rather than the date on my visa, I was presented with an option. Time and effort were on my mind, effort being the action resulting from motivation divided by time. Time.