Nepal was an afterthought.
I was already in India for a month; why not pop next door and bust up to Base Camp? So the trek was tacked onto the end of my trip.
I was in a tizz this morning. Booked in for a 4.30am airport transfer, my driver instead turned up at 3.56am as I was just arising. So I was in a fluster from the get-go. Luckily being the super sonically organised speciman I am, my suitcase was packed and my outfit laid out at the foot of my bed.
Unfortunately, I had planned to have a ten-minute skype with Deb for her birthday but with the bellboys persistently calling my broken room phone and buzzing my bell meant our date didn’t materialise. A frantic Viber call was made in haste (Pop in a major panic, sorry Deb) before I headed downstairs to depart Delhi.
Last night on return to my wonderful, plush hotel from the other night, I had a sudden bout of apprehension. Nepal? Tomorrow? What was I thinking! What if an aftershock struck? What if I was stranded? What if….
I picked myself up off my posy of pillows and trotted across the road for some dinner. Leaving my phone in my room, all I took was a book to lose myself in a world of trashy rom-com for awhile. It worked an absolute treat. Even the cubes of cottage cheese that were buried in my medly of masala seasonal vegetables didn’t phase me.
I came back composed, just managed to force shut my suitcase (another parcel to be posted from Nepal perhaps?) and leapt into bed after some sun salutations to sink into slumber. (Kidding. Do you think I’d just coma out when I had an early morning flight? I tossed and turned and took an absolute age to slightly doze).
Gosh I’m becoming old hat at airports. I used to be first and forefront upon flying, dithering at the desk for the moment I could check in/board/get my baggage. Now? I breeze through customs cool as can be. (Ok fine, I still gravitate to the very front at the gate, but it’s in a far more aloof way I assert).
(There was a moment of manicness when the security man said I couldn’t take my Powerade Zero bottle through. But I was taking it, come hell or unfiltered water. I’m now in duty free with a parched Powerade looking for a tap).
So Nepal. I’m excited but a touch apprehensive. I’ve been assured it’s getting back on its feet, recovering well since the devastating disaster, but I’m a little worried about just what “well” means. I’m scared the sadness will seep into my soul and I’ll be a mess. But then I don’t want to be detached and unfeeling in the face of probable despair and heartbreak either. Time will tell.
So I had a good twenty minutes to roam around duty free before going to my gate (forty actually, but didn’t want to miss my flight; I’m not that airport assured). I found myself automatically striding towards the food court.
Oh yay! I hear you applaud. Breakfast! Good girl! Alas, no.
No. You see, I have a perverse pull to food courts. I love to do the laps, mull over menus, gaze at the glutton, watch people consume copious calories and feel immense pride that I’m not doing so myself. It’s one of the reasons I loved being at Brisbane Airport so much; with calories listed on every item on every menu, I could study and see to the nearest single digit just what people were digesting.
So it was instinctive to get on the elevator up to the cafe and restaurant area. I was a third of the way on my ascension when I suddenly clicked. Drat! ED you sneaky tosser! Not on your life mate.
I attempted a full scale U-turn in my determination to block the bastard, meaning a little backtrack into a bunch of hungry backpackers. So unfortunately I did have to go up to the area, but I descended down immediately, no scouting of menu signs in the slightest (neon here, the dust doesn’t affect the inner workings of the airport displays).
I sat at my gate smiling at all the Nepalese people that would be on my flight. And they are beautiful. I truly think the Nepalese are among – if not the – most aesthetically pleasing humans in the world. And oh so friendly! They transport me to thinking of Pochantas, and that elicits sweet childhood memories.
I was just nutting out some degree holds and a boat pose, when a Nepalese man remarked how impressed he was with my core commitment. We got chatting and he asked about where I was headed. When I told him he looked at me in awe and said, “You’ve got real guts to roam the world on your lonesome”. Then when he asked what I did and I said I may be writing a piece on Nepal for the national newspaper when I get home, he honestly – honestly – got teary and thanked me for helping his country and his people. That feeling? That one right there? That’s feel-good vibes. He added me on Facebook and said if I needed anything while in Nepal to make sure to contact him with no hesitation.
On the plane I sat next to a stunning girl called Goma. She clasped my hand and thanked me for coming to Nepal and for helping her country in its recovery. I wanted to cry. These beautiful people were all viewing me as this do-Good Samaritan, but coming to Kathmandu was pure selfishness on my part. I didn’t deserve the gratitude.
Suddenly Goma exclaimed, “Look at the mountains!”. Out the plane window, shaving foam peaks rose through the cotton wool clouds. It was a sight that literally had my toes tingling. My heart felt full of love. It sounds so dopey and wet, but it was one of the best and most memorable moments of my life. As we landed, Goma held my hand. It sounds so stupendously stupid, but I felt like I had come home.
I am so, so glad I didn’t balls out and cancel this leg of my Solo Sojourn as many expected. I’m proud of myself and I’m pumped.
I’m calm. I’m cool. And I haven’t even had Rescue Remedy! It is at the ready but I think UltraPop can do without today.
Come at me Kathmandu!