DIETETICS AND HEALTHY LIVING. After mentioning in the last chronicle the issue of my health, which I suppose is good even though I haven’t been to a doctor’s office for several decades, I thought it would have been appropriate to do so with the diet I follow here as well.
In this Nepalese town called Sauraha, when he ate his traditional “dal bhat” daily, he exclaimed: “Rediós, how good it is! I’m not exaggerating, and serve as an example that this dish, usually vegetarian, includes leaves and herbs so delicious that you can chew on them for a long time in order to taste them better.
Another peculiarity (unique in this “model” world?) is that these chlorophyll cocktails, which are the same as the vegetables that the farmers sell at home, will have been harvested in the morning and will not have travelled or entered a cold room. Eating what the garden provides in each season (now it’s the cauliflower’s turn), the menu is a bit repetitive; but the satisfaction of the palate makes up for it. My mouth gets wet thinking about lunch! This diet, which is both healthy and ecological, is supplemented by rice grown by the same people who fill my stomach.
On the rare occasions that the dal bhat is not vegetarian, it will include chicken, duck or fish from the Rapti River, which borders Chitwán National Park.
Sauraha reminds me of Southeast Asia because there are many more ducks than chickens and hens. Completing so much naturalness, I keep drinking the underground water that I get by giving it to the pump handle: it is an exquisite water, and even more so now in winter, which is always fresh but not cold, since I never drink it from the fridge: the beer is cold, the chai is very hot, and the water is natural. Three other products that are never missing from my diet when I live in Sauraha are milk, yogurt and honey that a guy collects in the jungle, which I buy a kilo of as soon as I get here.
Although my digestive system works better with this type of Nepalese food, because of the social relationships I have I also occasionally eat Western food, which is invariably carnivorous and unspiced. My Russian friend Mr. Tolstoy is still more fond of his country’s cuisine, and when I dine with him I feel as if I were in a Russian home.
Now, moreover, the person who runs the guesthouse where I live is a fellow countryman of mine, and I sometimes taste Catalan cuisine too. At Christmas his mother and sister came to visit, and invited me to share the Serrano ham, sausages and cheese they brought. Trying to make me nostalgic, the mother prepared an omelet that was close to perfection. To make sure he didn’t miss anything, we watered down that Christmas dinner with French wine.
I’ve told you many times that walking was very healthy (and more so in the country or in the woods), and I was happy to read this nice comment in an article about physical exercise: “Unlike running, walking is difficult to injure or suffer an accident.
Also on health, I read a scientific study of tea which stated that, apart from other virtues, it increased the longevity and functioning of the mental connections (similar to the national road network) of those who drank it regularly.
As you may remember, another of my hobbies is singing (which I would not dare to call beautiful…), and I recommend you to read the report of “eldiario.es” that you will find in the previous link, because it confirms my opinion that it is very healthy.
As you might suppose, the languages I hear around me are, so to speak, out of place. In this pension it is the Catalan that I speak with my fellow countryman, as well as the radio programs that he listens to in this language. In Mr Tolstoy’s house, of course, I constantly hear Russian being spoken, because he is always connected to forums, especially political ones, in which he actively participates.
With Mr. Tolstoy there is still another language involved: the one he invented himself and his wife and the rest of his political family have learned. It contains English words, but the meaning it gives them is different. Here are a few examples: “simple” means good or right; “slow” means careful; “understanding” is knowing, “Nazi” is country, and “sitting” is being in a place. He calls Sauraha (which we Latinos pronounce Sauraja and the local people Sauraaa) Sauraga, and Pokhara, Pajara. I also like to invent English words because it is a language that gives you many possibilities in that aspect (like “beaching” or “jungling”). And the coolest one of all the talk at the Russian friend’s house is “futing”, which actually comes from “food” and they use it to ask you if you want to eat: “Futing?
Over the years, and by living in places where I didn’t know the local language, I’ve ended up being very skilled at miming, a language with which I usually complete what I’m saying in English, and even more so if I do it with the four words I know, say, from Hindustani. Cutting, drinking, eating, sleeping or travelling are invariably accompanied by the relevant gestures that would allow me to be understood by a deaf person. For example, I will quietly tell the Nepalese cook from afar that I will do the laundry and have lunch when I return.
I remember a very explicit case: it happened while I was descending a steep mountain track near Machu Picchu; at one point I saw, from where I was, that a truck coming down and passing by me was going to meet a blind curve with another truck coming up. I didn’t think about it or plan it, but my hands and the movement of my eyes and my head warned the driver, who thanked me with his mime as well. There’s something magical about that kind of silent communication, like telepathy.
During the civil war that this country suffered, which only ended at the end of the penultimate decade when the communists entered Parliament, the Maoist guerrillas charged a subsidy to the inhabitants of the regions they dominated, and if anyone refused to pay, they were executed. This is what happened to a highly respected school teacher who was dragged out of the classroom when he was teaching, tied to a tree trunk and shot in front of the students who were begging for his life. One of those killers is currently the spokesman for the communist government now in power, whom its leaders are keeping in office despite being accused of various crimes.
In the town hall of the historic and beautiful city of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, a local communist party called the “Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party” has long been in power and is, unusually, a fervent admirer of North Korea. You may think they are mad, but in Bhaktapur cleanliness and order reign, its paved streets are in good condition and, unlike Kathmandu, Patan and Lalitpur, they have completed the reconstruction of all the monuments and houses which had fallen in the Great Earthquake.
Due to the barbaric tradition of “chhaupadi”, which outlaws women when they have their period, many Nepalese students stop attending school during these days. However, times are changing, and now a group of girls from Kalikot are confronting that custom and trying to break it. Good!
The “Commission for Investigation of Abuse Authority” in Kathmandu has conducted a nationwide study and found that corruption is rampant and cuts through politicians and officials. The first ones do it to recover what they invested in the electoral campaigns; the others do it to pay off the credit they asked for to bribe those who got them the position. At the forefront, and standing out with 55% of corrupt people, are those who are involved in territorial issues, that is, the “Land Revenue”.
I recently learned that the Spanish passport is “powerful”, while, according to the “Henley Passport Index”, Nepal’s is among the “weakest” and ranks 101st out of 107 countries, below North Korea, South Sudan and Kosovo. This calculation is made by counting the number of countries you can go to without having to apply for a visa.
SEE WHAT I THINK.
The proof of my sanity is that I’m not afraid to do crazy things. The knowledge that a cautious man attains in life is not worth two, because the most important lessons are taught by Madame Madness, and to pass her subjects it is essential to do madness.
And that’s all for today, my dear nincompoops. Bom Bom.
The Cosmic Chronicle, by Nando Baba