Archives for posts with tag: Nepal

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.


^ 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:


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.


My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

We left Jasper® & Socket™ waiting for Katmandu to catch up to them, or something upside down like that. Our itinerary now took us out of the city, across a mountain range, and into a steep Himalayan valley hosting the Trisuli river and our raft journey to Chitwan National Park.

On one of our riverside stops, Old Babette had an epiphany of immortal youth, had lost or run out of her lithium actually, and after being fished out of a riverside eddy and narrow brush with death that did not even register in her mind, with wet dress clinging to her thin body, began dancing; imagining herself a siren from the Coen Brothers’ ‘Ulysses.’

She was taken into protective custody by the Montana dyke whose ability to impart reality was better than any anti-psychotic medication. A few short words suffice to explain: This dyke ‘lady’ from Basin, Montana, was veteran of a war that is legend. The derelict Montana mining town of Basin was the preferred habitat of an artist community with a fairly large percentage of lesbians. The town’s bikers didn’t behave in respect to the lesbians and after awhile, when push came to shove, the lesbians pushed the bikers out of town. The Montana dyke was along as an insurance policy-enforcer in the original Montana libertarian style; be as crazy as you please, but don’t cross a line. Old Babette decided to behave.

We camped overnight at the confluence of the Trisuli & Kaligandeki rivers on a sandy spit across from the Devghat temple. We had no idea what the temple was across the river. The ‘Bandit Sister’ and myself swam over to investigate and upon entering the temple grounds, we saw crocodile effigies! “Oh shit!!” was the reaction on realizing we had come so far into the lowlands that we’d entered this creature’s territory and would now have to swim back. I swam on my back returning to the camp, maybe not so much because it is quiet but because I wouldn’t see a croc coming, if that was to happen. Perhaps the water wasn’t seasonally warm enough, for them to be up the river to where we were.


My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India


On arrival in Nepal we were held up an hour at the airport, with the exception of the Tibetan who magically walked through customs as though he were invisible. The holdup was we weren’t offering a bribe, essentially daring customs to shake us down. Jasper® & Socket™ had departed separately from the group and were coming to Nepal overland, by bus. Apparently there were some issues with them getting into the country in any straightforward way, which by the way, in south Asia includes bribes. If Jasper® & Socket™ had been with us, there’s no doubt in my mind we’d have had all of our luggage gone through with a fine toothed comb. Maybe that’s why the sisters had sent them packing on a different route.

The officers looked totally annoyed at us all, as we pretended to be too stupid to understand the custom of offering a gratuity to speed our entry into the country. Finally they let us in, sans tip. When I asked the Tibetan about his magic act entry, he explained he had no proper passport and could not get a visa. Therefore he’d pressed a 100 Rupee note into a customs officer’s hand with the remark “Here is the better identity” and was waved through without a problem.

Bummer John had to leave his dope in India, as he’d been advised he wouldn’t want to risk the hospitality of a Nepali jail trying to bring it into the country via the airport. Now, at the hotel in Katmandu, he looked even more bummed out. I was relaxed on a 2nd level veranda and noticed what looked like potted marijuana plants on the adjacent building’s rooftop, actually within easy reach. I’d inquired and discovered they were hemp of a variety for making nutritional oil. It was not the cannabis variety that gets you high but more similar to a feral cannabis variety known to dopers in the American mid-west as ‘headache weed.’

Bummer John was too depressed to notice horns had sprouted on my forehead as I went back into the hotel and told him of a discovery he’d no doubt be interested in. Desperate, he took the bait and filched some cannabis flowers off the hotel neighbor’s plants; to my visceral satisfaction when I noticed several hours later his perennial expression of stressed helplessness had degenerated into something more resembling a Van Gogh painting, or perhaps a modern work titled ‘The Scream.’

Old Babette, who to now seemed a perfectly reasonable person, with the singular habit of avoiding Jasper® like the plague, was coming a bit more into the conversation in the absence of Our English Lord Ram Giri. The Montana dyke had been nearly invisible throughout our trip, usually wandering a bit behind everyone else when the group was together, to solo sight-see, with relaxed demeanor and pleasant smile belying eyes that never missed a thing. Sensible Sue managed to adroitly negotiate all of the cliques by now, demonstrating a real cross-cultural talent with an infallible instinct to know when and how to discreetly make herself vanish with upcoming scene not to her taste.

Bummer John had the occasional extended downer (with assists from myself), between consistent lows.

The Tibetan and myself took off into the city to get a sense of things more along the lines of Nepal’s authentic culture than the hashish dens the city is famous for in counter-culture lore, ZZ Top reputedly frequenting these locations notwithstanding. I’d a glance inside the Yin & Yang Café at the western burnouts therein and decided leave that to Jasper®’s ‘alternative’ city tours & interested parties, when (or if) he’d caught up with us.

Katmandu is an interesting city reflecting Nepal’s makeup; proper Nepalese Hindus, others speaking a Hindi dialect my Tibetan friend understood, a Tibetan subculture that was interesting, as well, many proper Tibetans. My friend looked up someone he knew, a Tibetan ‘Foxy’ and had a good visit. After, we visited the temple of the living virgin goddess, a Hindu site where a young girl lives as an immortal until puberty and then is married off and replaced with a new virgin. We visited an open market where I found, and this amazed me, a package of authentic American Camel non-filter cigarettes, and stumbled onto a !Mexican restaurant! precisely on the other side of the planet from Mexico. I sat down and enjoyed a quite reasonable bean & cheese burrito, quite reasonable, that is, if you didn’t mind the Italian red sauce.


The ‘Tibetan’ (L) and myself (R)


My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India



Tales of a 1984 Journey to India

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 1 From Indian country to India

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 2 New Delhi, round one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 3 On character

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 4 Into the Himalayan foothills

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 5 Sanarth & the Buddha

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 6 Varanasi part one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 7 Varanasi part two

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 8 Varanasi part three

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 9 Katmandu

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 10 Trisuli River

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 11 Chitwan National Park

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 12 Katmandu reprise

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 13 Back to Hotel Imperial

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 14 The riots begin

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 15 To the Taj Palace Hotel

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 16 Out of Delhi!

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 17 Cairo-London-New York

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 18 Aftermath

My Madcap Adventure, Epilogue (Notes) corrections/disclaimers


Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

All stories copyright Ⓒ 2015 by Ronald Thomas West: For profit & mass paper media redistribution prohibited

%d bloggers like this: