Saturday, April 27, 2013

Baitadi Nepal (Unknown Kumoun 7)

Unknown Kumon

Nanakmatta Sahib (Unknown Kumoun: 1)
Tanakpur (Unknown Kumoun: 2)
Chalthi and Champawat (Unknown Kumoun 3)
Lohaghat and Advaita Ashram (Unknown Kumoun 4)
Pithoragarh (Unknown Kumoun 5)
Jhulaghat on the India-Nepal border (Unknown Kumoun 6)
Baitadi Nepal (Unknown Kumoun 7)
Dharchula (Unknown Kumoun 8)
Ritha Sahib Gurudwara (Unknown Kumoun 9)
Basantpur village (Unknown Kumoun 10)
Last village on the mountains (Unknown Kumoun 11)
Most dangerous Nandour valley (Unknown Kumoun 12)
End of trail at Chorgalia (Unknown Kumoun 13)
I wake up in Jhulaghat and come out in the small market. all jeeps are gone and all Nepalis are also gone to continue further their long journeys to various parts of India where-ever they work.
I have parothas in breakfast and then walk to the Jhoola Bridge. That same officer is not at his post because it was not 9AM yet but anyway I walk into Nepal. Road to Baitadi is built recently and it traverse off from the traditional trek, so at the point where trek splits, I brace myself to make this extreme climb to the level of Pithoragarh. I am single minded to walk to Baitadi whereas shared jeeps are there. People still take this trek to get to their villages and road route goes through entirely different direction.

From the trek to Baitadi

I take my first step on the trek and then keep on walking and panting. Terrain in Nepal is greener and less exploited than India so it is a joy to be here. More forest covers and then more water in the mountains. Since Nepal is not yet economically developed so terraced farms are not abandoned yet and I can see green farms all over even in the winter of December. I keep walking and climbing for an hour and cover 4 kilometers in a single shot along with a porter who is carrying a large TV on his back. We both stop at a tea shop at a trails intersection.

Village in India across the river.
Porter has become a friend of me so he waits for me to get up and then we begin walking. His name is Bishan, and he introduces me to this region of Nepal and provides me lots of information. He introduces me with many herbs in the area. This area of Nepal is famous for Mule breeding and people from far away come here to make their purchase of mules. We keep walking and stop at another tea shop and I buy him tea and wafers because he is very poor. Trail alternately passes thought dense deodar forests and then terraced farmlands. Unbelieving we arrive in the small and neat town of Baitadi in 3 hours. I am drenched in the sweet and far away I can see the building of Pithoragarh across the Sharda River Valley. Bishan leaves me and walk along to his destination that is still some kilometers away. I sit in the grass to rest and let myself dry. As I am dry, I feel cold at this altitude and wear my light jacket.

Views from Baitadi
I enter in the Baitadi village and see a lawyer’s home.
Nameplate on the gate says:
Anurag Adhikari BA LLB
A very competent person.
No case is too small or too big for me.
After a little further walk I see another nameplate
Vijay Thapa
BA, MA (First Class) BEd (First Class)
Preparing for Indian Administrative Services and Nepal Civil Services.
Tuition are given here for all subjects.
Then I see several other nameplates of this same potential. People are living in this secluded place but their mind is racing to catch up and compete with the world.
Central area of the Baitadi is buzzing with jeeps going as far as Dhar Chula (Nepal) but roads are still unpaved and fare is more so still people come to India to make their travel and then again enter in Nepal. This region of Nepal is completely dependent upon India. I don’t find any private roomed hotel but only beds are available in the shared rooms. I take a bed for 75 rupee and park my backpack on it.
Being parts of Kumaun then Baitadi was ruled by Chand kings of Kumaun before 1791 and then after it becomes the part of Nepal. Kumouni language is mostly spoken here instead of Nepali. Many snowy peaks are visible from Baitadi.
For bath I again walk back on the same trail because on the outskirt of a village I saw a plastic pipe bringing water from a waterfall on the top. There I take my bath standing under the ever running cold water guzzling out from the black plastic pipe. Village girl who are coming here to fetch the water are shy of me in the beginning and stand far away from me and giggle. Then slowly they all come and fetch their water as I am rubbing soap on myself and leave.
I walk back to Baitadi and have lunch of rice, daal and chutney at a restaurant.
This town or rather a village is spread on the ridge of the mountain and near a government office I see a crowd. They say some officer may be coming today and people are waiting to see him. They also say that they are expecting for this officer for the last four days but he may show up today.
Actually he is Deputy Commissioner of Baitadi. He is stationed here and gets a fat pay but spends most of his time in Kathmandu where he has a huge villa. His both sons are studying in USA. Student Visas are given on the merit of fat bank balance so …
He comes to Baitadi once a while to collect his bribes etc. so in the same errand he also signs some pending documents. This same phenomenon exists in almost whole third world countries.

Views from Baitadi
Two young men engage me in the conversation. Both are about 26 years old and married with four kids each. Both are primary school masters. One lives in the valley near the Patan airport and walks to the top of the mountain to teach children; and other lives on the top of the mountain and comes to the valley to teach. They are here to request for swap their position.
One asks me, “Can you write in English.”
Other runs to a shop and brings me some papers and asks me to write their transfer applications in very complicated English. I do my best to fill their request. I am not an expert in complicated English but any English I write is already is very complicated to them.
They ask me if I am married?
I tell, “No.”
“How old are you?”
“I am 43.”
One says, “Oh, you live in America so you can afford to stay single but we are poor we cannot afford to stay single. Poor people must do agriculture so need a wife to tend to the fields and cattle.”
Second also affirms, “Yeah, you have your own business so you can afford to stay single.”
I never thought it this way but well anyway they may be correct.
“But you got a job,” I ask them.
“Yeah but we got it recently.”

Pristine forests in Nepal
Then I see a frenzy of people and a noise that officer is coming. I see a car coming and people get in line in a rush. Finally Deputy Commissioner has arrived by a small aircraft at Patan airport and made it to here.
I walk away from the area and stroll around the small town of Baitadi.
A man is persistently walking behind me and this is annoying me. As I see some privacy at the turn of the road; there I stop so he come to me as he is seeking a chance to speak with me privately.
“Are you looking for a beautiful bride to marry?”
“No …… but why?”
“Come – come; you are here to buy yourself a wife. I can get you one, very beautiful and very young for 10 thousand rupee.”
Out of curiosity I ask, “Where?”
“It is a 6 days walk from here either you can come with me to a village in Bajhang area or I can arrange her to come here with her family member in that case you need to wait for two weeks. You can marry her in a village and take her with you.”
“But I am not here for a wife.”
“Come – come. Don’t lie to me. Nobody comes here for no cause.”
Now I wonder I saw some older people going with extremely beautiful and younger girls all decorated in wedding costumes. Many of these girls end up in brothels. Poor people sell their girls in the pretext of marriage in anticipation that the girl may find better life either way.

Baitadi area
Now I wonder why everybody was staring at me in Baitadi, they all think that I am here to buy myself a girl and then I will fool around with her and then sell her off.
There is a vast road less wilderness here in Nepal. After the Baitadi road, next North-South road is 300 kilometers in the east, that is recently built Muktinath-Pokhra dirt road. In between two road there are endless mountains from India to Tibet and no roads. It takes many days of walk to get to those villages. Eastern Nepal is extremely poor and population is exploding and resources are exhausting and no sources of employment. Western Nepal is a bit better with more road connectivity. Moreover tea is successfully being grown in Western Nepal and it is getting better as tea prices are ever rising.
I politely tell that man that I am not here to marry and walk away.
At the evening lights of Pithoragarh presents a spectacular view and I eat my dinner and come to my bed, whole hotel is now full with the people who are flocking to Baitadi to see Mr. Deputy Commissioner who may leave at anytime without notice. My room has 15 cots and all are taken. I am lucky that I got the window. Most people are talking about how corrupt is the officer. They are talking in Kumouni but I can make some sense.
Some are smoking, some are drinking and some are chatting so it is a very entertaining to be here. Suddenly it is peaceful at 10PM. And we all go to sleep. I wake up many times when some one coughs or snores very loudly.
Overall I have a good sleep.

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