In this strange time that we are living, the feeling that I used to have in Chitwán has increased in me: that of being in another world. Sometimes it also seems to me that World War III has broken out and I am in a tiny stronghold which, for the time being, remains neutral.
If you have the holy patience to read these chronicles every week, you will know what I mean by “another world”; but, anyway, here are some facts about our domestic life.
Thanks to my efficient “camel” who skipped the blockade by riding his motorbike through muddy forest roads, I still smoke at a premium cost (bidis and rum service have not failed so far either). The mud was due to the heavy storms that hit us five afternoons in a row, making us believe that the monsoons had already arrived. The continuous lightning seemed like flashes from a disco, and the thunder, cannon shots from a pitched battle. To make sure nothing was missing, there were also a couple of hailstorms that covered the ice floor, pleasantly cooling the hot temperatures. One of these storms caught me on my way to the house of Lord Tolstoy, who had invited me to dinner to celebrate Easter Sunday, and I sought shelter on the porch of an adobe hut: after waiting an hour for the rain to stop, I returned to mine completely drained.
My current diet includes such unusual foods as prawns and river clams, as well as a wild vegetable that I didn’t know about and that is only found in the jungle. With shops closed or lacking supplies, Sauraha’s mothers complete the “dal bhat” their family eats by gathering fruit, vegetables and especially herbs from the jungle. The chai milk that Narmada prepares for me comes from the cows (sacred, of course) of a local Brahmin.
Let’s continue with the dietary issue. Ravens are infanticides; today I saw one fly by that, despairing of a mother hen, carrying a kicking chick in its beak, which would serve it for breakfast. While these dramatic events were taking place in the air, in the vast prairie completely flat and covered with tender grass below, my friend Shankar’s cows and buffaloes were grazing or taking a nap in the morning sun. Do they know how lucky they are not to be continually locked up in a pen like most of their relatives?
After telling you about the elephant Ronaldo in the last chronicle, I will now tell you about a cousin of his who is also famous for the messes and deaths he leaves in his wake. His name is Durbe. The Forest Service soldiers went after him this week and, unlike Ronaldo, succeeded in sedating him. However, due to the previous failure, they went too far with the dose, and Durbe remained in limbo for almost two days, running the risk of dying by not changing his position: this is what elephants normally do while sleeping on their side to avoid damaging their internal organs with their extreme weight. As if they wanted to punish Durbe for his crimes, the Forest Service took advantage of this time to disarm him by cutting off his fangs, and also put a radio collar on him to keep track of him at all times. I’m so good that I even suffer for the bad guy in the movies (I’m such a sufferer! Ha!), and I was happy when Durbe regained consciousness from his thirst. Then he staggered down to the Rapti River and drank for a long time.
All this did not prevent Durbe from appearing last night on the outskirts of Sauraha and pickling in the rice fields without the cries of the people being of any use. During my morning walk I assumed that he had passed by when he saw some bamboos, his favourite food, which had been treated similarly to rice fields.
Among the few foreigners that the pandemic blockade has caught in Sauraha, there is a nice woman from Kazakhstan named Aigul who, when she contacted her country’s government asking what they advised her to do, was told: “At the moment there is no better place than Nepal and it will be better if you stay there until everything is cleared up a bit. He is twenty-seven years old and his pretty pale face shows some Mongolian features. In Kathmandu he was asked if he belonged to one of the Nepalese ethnic groups with such origins, as Shankar does. They also resemble each other because of their small stature. Aigul, who works as a translator and speaks impeccable English without the slightest accent, is studying Spanish. Despite the loneliness that reigns in Sauraha and being the only guest at the Misty Nepal resort, she is not bored because she practices yoga, does meditation and takes long walks at sunset. As she told me, there was only one thing missing: reading; a problem I solved with four dusty English books in my guesthouse.
The polite way to greet or address someone in Nepal (and also in India) is to pronounce their name accompanied by an honorary title, such as prince, maharaja or father (baba). To make it more difficult for a forgetful person like me (assuming I bothered to learn his language), the older brother is called “jeta” (the joke is on, but I keep it to myself to keep the older brother from being angry with me); the second, “maila”; the third, “saila”; and the fourth, “caínla”.
When the holiday of “Holi” was celebrated (the right thing to do would be to write Joli), in which by the way I only participated as a spectator, while I was watching the neighborhood dancing uncontrollably (placed with pot and beer and covered with different colors), I remembered the Holi I spent in the Indian city of Vrindavan with my Occitan friend. My memory was also recreated with the Holi of Konarak (by the Bay of Bengal), where, after staying from six to seven in the morning in a bamboo hut with four trendy local friends, consuming all kinds of illegal substances, we spent the rest of the day kicking around the surrounding villages accompanying a crazy group of locals: one of them was carried on bamboo parihuas as they do with the dead, and they recited the obligatory “Ram, Ram, Satia Je! Ram, Ram, Satia Je!” The supposed deceased, as stoned as the others, smoked one bidi after another and laughed out loud.
We passed each other on the street. He was a stranger, but we greeted each other with a smile, surprised as soon as we saw each other because we looked like brothers: European, old, hairy, bearded and dressed in white Nepalese clothes. He told me that he was traveling around the world planting trees. Good!
SEE WHAT I THINK.
Asshole protocol: a) anyone is asked an asshole question or comment; b) no matter how the other reacts, he is immediately told, “Man, don’t be like that, it’s not that bad!”; c) if the victim still doesn’t give up, it is essential to hypocritically let him go, “Relax, it was only a joke”; d) in the case that the asshole is defeated, he always has the option to defame the other behind his back by commenting to the others, “You have noticed how hysterical the poor guy is
Traditions that provoke fear, sorrow, pain or lack of freedom are pure, legitimate sadism.
Heard in the series “Unorthodox”: “Sometimes you have to break the rules to create a masterpiece”.
In what I call life experiments, I observe my emotional reactions at all times, but without repressing them as I might have done when I was young.
The present perfect has no memories or future dreams.
The grammatical rules of the French language seem to me to be very complicated. An example: instead of simply writing, “Quesquesé?” (“What’s this?”, sorry: JA!), they come out with a big, “Qu’est-ce-que c’est?”. But what is it about?
Since I mention the subject of languages, I will take advantage of the fact that mine, that is, Catalan, specializes in monosyllables, of which there are thousands, such as llop (wolf), bosc (forest), coll (neck), cul (ass), pit (breast), nas (nose), pet (fart), llac (lake), llaç (bow), lloc (place), llet (milk), moc (mucus), gat (cat), gos (dog), cau (burrow), clau (nail), mos (mouthful), pel (hair), dit (finger), dau (dice), llit (bed), meu (mine), teu (yours), seu (yours), llar (home), llum (light), cel (sky), pot (boat), tro (thunder), llamp (lightning), peu (foot), neu (snow), un cop al cap (a blow to the head).
If you want to know how the pandemic is in Asia, I recommend you to read the articles about it written by my friend Luis Garrido-Julve in his blog “Bangkok Bizarro” and also here in “Conmochila”.
And that’s all for today, my dear nincompoops. Bom Bom.
The Cosmic Chronicle, by Nando Baba