Our days at Chitwan behind us, the bus we hired to bring the group back to Katmandu broke down. The Tibetan stayed with the main group and the bus together with the Angel Sister, while the Bandit Sister, with some of the more adventurous souls, took off up the road to ‘hitch-hike’ back to Katmandu. I rather quickly strode out beyond these people and when about two hundred meters ahead of them, looking back, I saw a commuter bus blow past this crew dressed in western clothes with thumbs out, as though they did not exist. ‘Thumbs up’ likely meant to the driver of this bus ‘it’s all good.’

I’ve worn something resembling a turban exactly twice in my life; the first time in 1972 when hired as an extra; for a movie that bombed at the box office, a remake of ‘Lost Horizons.’ Oddly coincidental, this movie was supposedly set in the Himalayas (however filmed in the USA.) I’d like to believe this dubious literary venture will someday fare better.

While in Nepal, I’d purchased a long piece of brightly colored cotton cloth, a print, and wore it wrapped around my head in a manner similar to some of the locals, enhancing the native dress I’d adopted. Extending my hand, palm down, at the approaching bus, with a sort of wing-flap gesture I knew from Vietnam, the vehicle stopped for me. Climbing onto this typically jammed with people commuter bus at the rear entrance, as there was no possible space to enter at the front of the bus, I sorted the fare by deliberately producing more than it could possibly cost, an Indian twenty rupee note. Nepal was, in those days, a triple currency nation; Nepal rupees, India rupees and American dollars. The India twenty rupee note was passed, hand to hand, from the rear of the bus to the front of the bus, where it was deposited and a Nepal ten rupee note and some coins were passed, hand to hand, back to the rear of the bus and given to me. The simple people are good to, and honest with, each other. I didn’t initially know the fare but the result proved I wasn’t cheated.

Bus

^ Similar but my commuter bus was bigger

By using the India currency, it put the curious off the mark. To each language put to me by fellow passengers, I merely smiled and shook my head in the negative. Nobody asked me a question in English and clearly no one suspected I was a westerner. Normal in Nepal or India, this all took place standing at the open rear door of a bus that would see the driver jailed and company shut down, if it were to happen in the States .. there were that many people on board.

I was the first back to our hotel in Katmandu, by several hours. The Bandit Sister and the few with her wandered in next, followed by those who’d stayed with the bus, that evening. Meanwhile, Jasper® was in an ebullient mood, regaling us with stories, no doubt solo immersion in the Katmandu hashish/opium dens had lifted his spirits considerably in our absence. Or perhaps he was actually, genuinely, happy to see us. One story he told has remained etched in my memory, something one such as myself would never be prone to forget. But first: One must understand these sisters have known South Asia intimately since the 1960s. Covering India (the Guardian Angel Sister primarily), Pakistan (both sisters) and Afghanistan (the Bandit Sister primarily), among other nations, if one could reinvent Kipling’s ‘Kim’ as two 20th Century sisters who’d discovered the South Asian street life and could competently negotiate the associated intrigues of the latter era, it would be these girls. With that said, I’ve no real idea what the sisters were doing in Islamabad in December, 1971. Especially considering they were in the company of not only Jasper® & Socket™ but Kathy McNamara! As Jasper® warmed to his story of the hotel room they were together in subject to air-raid blackout during the short India-Pakistan war of 1971, he brought up the fact of former (and much reviled) United States Secretary of Defense and then World Bank President Robert McNamara’s daughter present in the involuntarily darkened room. Then, with an expression of amazement apparently undiluted over the 13 years that’d passed since; Jasper® announced and I’ll never forget this .. “And Socket™ screwed her!!”

Socket™ did not deny anything, rather looked, for the only time ever, somewhat uncomfortable. Normally, he was gathered and complacent image of cool, closely resembling another drummer anyone should recognize, that is if one were to imagine his face thinner & darker:

Socket

Who knows what method might have been employed to seduce Kathy McNamara ..  no matter circumstance .. when a daughter of one of the world’s most powerful and evil men is seduced by a village musician from Bihar, that my friends, is the stuff of legend.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)