Friday, May 10, 2013

An UnforgettableTrip: Pokhra to Kathmandu

It is strange how everything that goes well and as per plan is quickly forgotten and everything that goes wrong or threatens our very lives is remembered forever.
This is the stuff memories are made of.
I traveled from Kathmandu to Pokhra in a bus. The journey was as expected...cramped seats in the bus, beautiful scenery outside the window and roads that made your head spin if you looked down.
I had a very ordinary day in Pokhra walking around the touristy place with its little shops selling touristy stuff, crossing the small pond (lake) in a boat and visiting the temple.
The Himalayan skyline was the only thing that went beyond the promise of the place and made it worth it.
I started back for Kathmandu the next morning by bus. There were quite a few foreigners in this bus.
We trundled along for about four hours on the mountain roads and then suddenly stopped.
The bus driver and conductor asked us to get down from the bus as it was not possible to enter the city and all roads had been blocked by students protesting against some statement made by an Indian actor.
It was beside the point that the said actor had immediately denied it.
Nepali people were angry and wanted to show it in whatever way they could.
One method they adopted was to block all roads leading into Kathmandu. I think we were still about 10 kms out of the city. There were people of all ages and color in the bus. Some passengers had heavy luggage as they were on their way out of the country at the end of their vacation/stay etc. I had a small backpack as I had taken this as a side trip and was still checked into a hotel in Kathmandu.
Some passengers from our bus protested to the bus driver and conductor and asked them how we were expected  to reach the city from where they were dropping us, in the middle of nowhere. The driver shrugged and said that he could not risk the bus being set on fire by the protesters. We felt helpless and at our wits end.
After dithering for a while and seeing no other way, most of the passengers started walking toward the city.
Gradually people got into groups as per their speeds and inclination.
I fell in with an American family from Portland, Maine (USA).
They had come to Nepal for a vacation and also to take their daughter back home after a project that she had been working on in a village in Nepal.
We started talking and exchanged our family histories and situations in life as people are wont to do when they have time on their hands and nothing much to do.
We were carrying our bags and walking as fast as we could.
The general talk was that the protesters were specially against Indians and foreigners were safe. I was advised to remove the bindi that I wore on my forehead, so as to blend in with the family that I was walking with.
I obliged even if it was just to keep up appearances and would not have made a difference if some one decided to single out an obviously Indian looking person.
After a couple of kms we could see tyres burning on the road to stop any vehicles from crossing.
There was no police around.
The protesters looked fierce and ready for violence. We hesitated a little but then decided to brazen it out and take our chances.
We approached the road block and then walked past it at the same steady pace as before without looking any protesters in the eye.
We were just an American family walking past and meant no harm. We had no connection with any Indians, actors or not.
We could feel eyes boring into us but no one made a move to stop us or to single me out.
We heaved a sigh of relief and continued walking.
After about two hours of walking, we reached the outskirts of the city and were feeling quite confident of having escaped the worst. Now it was just a matter of keeping on walking and reaching our respective hotels.
The American family was saying at a hotel quite close to where I was staying in the main tourist quarter.
They dropped me off at my hotel and went their way but not before we had exchanged email addresses.

Other members of my team were relaxing in the hotel and had no clue as to what an adventure I had had.
There were many others like me who had similar stories to tell.
I thanked God that we had got away lightly.
The good part is that this chance encounter led to a friendship that is still going on despite the oceans and miles that separate us.
We share stories and experiences from our parts of the world and sometimes think of this day when we were one family.
What a road trip!


  1. Wow! Wish if you could post some pictures as well. Haven't been to this region. Look forward to visiting someday soon. Besties.

    1. Thanks Bnomadic. I will dig out some pictures and post them.

  2. Ah last year too there were quite a few road blocks (but no personal experience) this year thankfully Nepal was peaceful.

    What an adventure!

  3. Scary, good nothing frightful happened. Which year was this?

    1. I. Think it was 2001 end. Yes, it was scary while it lasted.

  4. I shudder to think what would have happened if not for the generous American family. Love your adventurous spirit Madhu.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Really appreciate your comments. :)


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