Tuned Out/Tuned In.
A few mornings ago I sat out on the balcony at my friend Jennys flat. It was early-ish, perhaps 07.30am, and I was drinking coffee and easing my way into the day. It slowly dawned in me that I was picking out different sounds – the chirrup if cicadas, pigeons cooing, a child’s voice in the distance, the gentle tolling of a small bell at the adjacent temple, a moped razzing down an alley.
For a week, since my arrival in Kathmandu, everything had been a riot, a whirlpool of white noises, all jumbled together. A swirl of reunions, bike rides, blaring horns, barking dogs, polluted air, and incessant traffic.
The whirlwind of work, planning, packing, family life, and last-minute loose ends, had melted away. I had tuned out from England. The bombardment, the chaotic cauldron, the sensory Armageddon, of kaleidoscopic Kathmandu had begun to unravel. I had tuned in.
Tuned out/tuned in. I had reached my place of contentment. The point where my old existence was confining to memory rather than immediacy, and new one slowly opening itself out in front of me with the grace of a stretching cat. I often find that it takes me a week, or even two, to fully wind down and recharge my batteries. I had earthed the current.
Kathmandu is city that could be easy to hate. It is noisy, chaotic, and polluted. It is the only city I have visited that I can endure, and enjoy, for more than three days. I love it here despite its obvious shortcomings. This is helped considerably of course by the many friends I have made here over twelve different visits. I ever only planned to come once; and several times I have thought that a particular trip might be my last. Nepal has a remarkable way of pulling you back into its warm heart. And besides, it’s an especially excellent place to ride a mountain bike.
My original plan was to stay for about ten days, doing exactly what I have been doing – riding my bicycle and hanging out with friends, before saddling up for a Trans-South-Asia Tour through India and Myanmar into Northern Thailand. The security situations in the North-East Indian state of Manipur and some parts of Northern Myanmar are less than ideal, so I have elected instead to fly on to Chiang Mai from here. This has given me the opportunity to make full use of my thirty-day visa in Nepal and I am off on a little adventure to Pikey Peak in The Khumbu region of The Himalaya.
When I return from there, in a week or so, I’m thinking of squeezing in a little packrafting and cycling trip down the Trisuli River to best fill up my time here. And, maybe, there’ll just be enough time for a little more hanging out.