About Urban Hiking

Recently a dear friend and I travelled about 700kms on my scooter, from Dharan to Kathmandu through Sauraha and Pokhara. It was more of an adventure than a journey and, much more of a hike than a ride. We would wake up and start early to reach the destination on time, get to see amazing things on the way, slept like logs during the night and repeat the same the following day. And for someone with a few hikes under my belt, it did feel like a hike only we covered tarmac instead of trails, thus the term Urban Hiking would seem legit.

After completing my undergrad, I had to leave my dormitory(something I was quite reluctant to do and deferred as much as I could). Among all my possessions, two things I had to bring home with utmost safety viz. my books and my scooter; Infinity Bahadur aka Infy. While my books I sent with my dad whom I trusted more than myself to keep them safe, I had some amazing plans with my scooter. As remotely as I can remember, I’d wanted Infy to come home caressing the roads, not tied to the roof of a bus.

It was with my scooty I felt free as a bird, able to get anywhere and go anyplace I liked, however far that may be. Those early morning trips to wonderlands, getting to those early morning classes in time, and all those amazing impromptu trips with friends. Heck without Infy, I wouldnt even go jogging. I loved how I could ride straight to the field thus averting all those prying eyes on the way and the soothing iInfy-created breeze cooling the body during the ride back. The luxury of getting to sing at the top of my voice while riding like a king and all other amazing things that were possible only because I had Infy.

I had told my plans of riding my scooter home to my dearie Bhola. And the awesome person he is, he not only agreed to come along, but made the trip even more interesting. He suggested we make some pitstops along the way, like Sauraha and Pokhara. I loved the idea. Initially it was planned that four of us would go on the trip but in the end it would be just the two of us. Perhaps thats the thing about planned travels, they never start as planned.

We started on the day break of 26th April 2017, a beautiful Wednesday morning. We left at about 6 in the morning. I took in the last view of the boys hostel complex, a surrounding that had come to be so familiar in the past years, it had become more than a second home. Then after a stable breakfast of dry thukpa with eggs and aaloo chop, off we went to seek adventure.

And on we rode, Infy roaring on the Mahendra highway and as the places came and passed, the adventurers in the two of us were only just awakening. The flat plain roads of Terai were not a big challenge for Infy, it was all a matter of pure endurance. It being Mothers’ day, we stopped first at Inaruwa to deliver Bhola’s gift to his aunt. Then we stopped at Barmajhiya for the famous tea and some smoke. We made few rest stops and rode on and on. Because we’d started so early, time was on our side, the sun clearly behind us, trailing us westwards. Bhola finally relinquished the rider’s seat to me after we crossed Kamala river. This was also exactly as far Infy had come before. From here on, it was all virgin tarmac.

As the journey progressed, so did the soreness on our buttocks. And since the rider’s seat had less butt contact, it hurt more to be riding pillion, thus Bhola kept asking to change rider as soon as his butt started to ache. At one point we stopped in the jungle of Patlaiyya to have juice and fag. Across the road I saw a monkey that was looking us and incessantly moving his lips as if it were muttering words. I only presumed it was hungry but deep inside I thought may be perhaps it were trying to relay some message.

We’d our lunch in Hetauda, then rode towards Sauraha but lost our way only to be shown the right way by a shopkeeper. We arrived in Tandi chowk in front of the Rhino statue at about 4PM after travelling about four hundred kilometres. After making sure Kshitiz, Anup Dai and Roshan Dai would join us for the night, we left for Sauraha. It was our first time in Sauraha and we couldn’t be any less excited.

Saurha was mesmerising right from the entry. The greenish hue to the place, Elephants sharing the streets, riverside streets teeming with excited tourists, the place seemed perfect to rest after the day’s long ride. We parked at the riverside and saw around. We got to see the aligators chilling out in the river, elephants calling it a day in their huts, heck we even got to see a Leopard(I still think it was a tiger) who’d come to drink from the river. Large cats sightings are an exceedingly rare phenomenon. The frenzy the big cat created was proof enough.

Soon enough everyone arrived and we took a table in a restaurant by the riverside. There were lots of tourists, their faces full of satisfaction of having come to this heavenly place. And there were some heavenly faces too, at least that one that I’ll never forget. We watched the sun set, drank beer, laughed and made merry until late into the night. The beach was an awesome place, the fact that right across the river lay Chitwan National Park made things even more exciting. I’d keep looking across the river into the jungle every now and then hoping that I’d be lucky to get to see some wildlife(only that didn’t happen though).

We got to our rooms at about 10PM, had some more beer and made some more merry. We met a young aspiring politician. He showed us the elements of eloquence, that one needs to focus more on the way one speaks than get stuck on the choice of words. But perhaps a politician has his own cons too, that being an obvious politician can make people see you through a different filter, one that is not unbiased. I hope he goes on to become a famous politician and makes good on his promise to make the country a better place by getting the right people to the right places to get the jobs done; his plans to develop the country.

The next morning we took the morning to sleep in, woke up as we desired, shared few more laughs and tokes and checked out at about 9:15AM. We’d heard about the fabled Narayangarh to Mugling road, how it was closed during the good part of the day and had to be entered by 10AM or waited until 4 in the afternoon. We did make it in time and what a road it was.

The Narayangarh-Mugling road was being upgraded, which in Nepali terms means it was shit as hell. Right from the entry to exit it was nothing but dusty, and without even an inch of tarmac. As we entered, plumes of dust rose so high and thick into the jungle, there was barely visibility of even ten meters. The riders coming from the other side were tinted in the dirty yellowish hue of dust on every surface of their body. It was a road unlike ever before, it was neither a desert safari nor a ride through a sand storm, it was just what it was; a perilous journey through the most un-road like road. There were holes so deep, they had a gravitation of their own, gravitation so powerful, Bhola would more often than not ride the scooty into one of them, and our luck equally as strong, for we emerged from each one of them unscathed. I was adventurous enough to take my camera out to take pictures of the surreal road, but the dust was so omnipresent, the dust jammed my lenses and there was dust even in the sensor, also in the end I ended up losing all the photos. When we reached Mugling, we looked like two Macaques on a scooty.

The road from Mugling upto Pokhara was quite good. We arrived in Pokhara at about 3PM. The dust from earlier had stayed on, and we were covered in so much dirt and mud, the waitress at the restaurant in lakeside where we would have our lunch wanted to know why I was about to enter their spic and span place. I told her we were there just to have lunch if it was alright with her. Later when I saw myself in the mirror in the restroom, I guess her question was quite valid given how expensive the place was and how dirty I looked. Sated with the famous Maya’s chicken burger we checked in at Elite’s. The view from the room was still breathtaking, something one could never have enough of.

After freshening up, we rode towards Pame(we assumed Happy Village was Pame). After absorbing the awesome view of the setting sun reflecting its rays off the lake we rode until the paragling landing grounds at the end of the lake. There we stayed and watched the sun set, merry makers and the beauty of the mesmerising body of water that has so much spiritual energy, all I could do was bask in it. 

We rode back to lakeside at dusk, bought some liquor and food to go with it. We sat on the balcony, cheered to our awesome trip and watched the lake in night light. All those lights from surrounding watering holes reflecting off of the lake was worth the day’s arduous journey. But the journey being no less than a hike(Urban hike to be exact), we being so tired from two days’ riding, we couldn’t finish our drinks, only land ourselves in bed and find sweet deep sleep.

The following morning we slept until late, had our breakfast at the lovely Asian Tea House (the uncle there still recognises us) and rode to Sarangkot. The view from Sarangot was breathtaking,all those colourful paragliders as butterflies colouring the skies was worth the climb right upto the view tower. Therafter, we went to Begnas lake and the Rupa-Begnas viewpoint. Bhola and I also did boating in Begnas. Had it not been for Infy’s grace, we would never have gone to these places. 

Then Ankur, Sabin and Santosh arrived from Kathmandu and Infy got to rest for a day and half. That night we went to Freedom cafe, and got to listen to the best live music in my life so far. The walk back to the hotel that night along the shores of the lake was quite something.

Next day after breakfast at Asian Tea House, we went boating in the Fewa lake. We took our time in the lake, we were on the boat for about 3hrs and got back to the shore just before the storm started. We waited by the shore to see the kerfuffle the storm brought as people rushed ashore but nothing interesting happened thus back to the hotel we went with sandwich for lunch. 

It rained beautifully for the good part of the afternoon, and we took in the view from the balcony. We went out in the evening to Buzz, and it was quite a happening place indeed, bustling with foreigners sharing their tales of travels or just catching up. Bhola even broke up a conversation with a beau of a german, too bad she’d other plans. As for me, I remember a beautiful face sitting across our table, enjoying the music more than the company.

The next morning we woke up at about 5:30AM and were on the road by 6:15, not even stopping for breakfast. I rode until Mugling as fast as I could. It was a cold foggy morning and I was all but focused on getting home as soon as safely possible. We had Puri-Tarkari in Mugling. From then upto Home, Bhola took the rein of our two wheeled chariot. And through bitumen, dust and mud, we got home safe, sound and covered in dust. Our adventure had gone just as smoothly as planned, all thanks to Infy’s resilience and sheer mettle.

And that is the story how two adventurers we able to pull off an Urban Hike, also how Infinity Bdr. got home…


Of Terai and Pahad

I’m a Nepali(thats what we call ourselves in our mother tongue). And i’ve always been very proud to be one. Perhaps its because of our awesome history, the British could never colonise us even though they succeeded in fucking India up. Or perhaps because of our rich cultural heritage, as you go from the plains towards the mountains from the north to the south you could come across the darker people in the plains then fairer ones in the hills and then darker ones again due to the mountain sun. I guess everyone here is indigenous one way or the other. It gave me great pride to say we were a diversified yet unified country living in perfect cultural harmony.

Then started the revolutions. The monarch once considered the incarnation Vishnu himself was overthrown. His temple converted into a museum. What I came to understand was that people were the ones who had the last say when it came to matters of the country. Their voices were the loudest of all and when everyone was out on the streets no laws could stop them.

And through the revolutions arose new leaders upon whom we trusted to build the nation and take it towards a prosperous future. But as it turned out they were more interested in establishing themselves than they were in building the country. And out came petty politics we’d never seen(as the king never allowed any of that) and yet we were tolerant. Then followed 8 years of political limbo and cheap politics. It was clear that the politicians did nothing but argue and put forth demands.

Thus people got more dissatisfied with their government. All those promises made by their politicians never materialised. And the politicians kept blaming the government which itself was never stable enough to last or strong enough to do what it wanted. And the people who’d risked their lives for the revolution felt betrayed. As if the country had turned its back against them. And all they could do was revolt again but this time they were a lot angrier. Anger in my opinion is primary harbinger of violence.

Therefore it is justified that the our brothers in the Terai are angry. And now with things taking a violent turn matters only seem to have worsened. But everyone knows violence never was answer neither is it justified for people to die while expressing their needs. There probably are equal number of poor people dying due to starvation because of commerce shutdown as there as those at the hands of the police. Why would anyone destroy their own infrastructures to revolt for the prosperity of their lands? This I ask of my brothers revolting in Terai.

It was not the Maoists’ guns that brought the king down but people’s voices echoing throughout the country. Why is it that its the people who are the ones dying while politicians bargain behind closed doors in luxurious hotels? How do we even know that they’re discussing our needs as the way we want them to? Don’t we all deserve full honesty and transparency from our politicians whom we’ve trusted to represent us? I wonder what it would be like if we locked all the politicians in room and asked them to come to a solution or die trying.

I know that my Madhesi brothers too didn’t want for this carnage. And there’s no way to undo what has happened but surely there has to be another way. A way to revolt where a normal person can find a way to earn his living and yet voice the injustice that has been done. A way to ensure that government listens to those genuine concerns before its too late. A way to falsify those politicians who argue great change only comes at the price of innocent lives. Such a way that many years from now social studies in French schools would teach of the Madhesi revolution