Foreign Objects

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Trekking through the Himalayas and what should you see.

Submitted: November 10, 2007

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Submitted: November 10, 2007



I could see she was sipping a tin cup of Chai Tea; its steam rising into the air as she blew across the surface and created waves that any surfer would envy. I salivated at the sight of the tea. It was all we drank on our expedition through the foothills of the Himalayas. A sweet aromatic scent was coming from the stone tea house sitting alone on the edge of this part of the mountains looking out into a brilliant valley of yellow and green canola terraces. Sipping Chai tea was like the nectar of heaven for me, with its fusion of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, bay leaves, ginger, honey, brown sugar and milk combined melodically through the warmth of a wood fire.

She doesn’t speak a word of English. Jade eyes like the rushing KarnaliRiver, a silver stud reflects light from the right side of her nose. Her auburn black hair is twisted tightly into a plait and twirled into a bun on the back of her head. Vivid turquoise, purple, yellow, red and navy flowers and birds and curvaceous patterns twist all over her sari and around her body. A marone circle sits symmetrically between her eye brows signifying her righteous piety, and either that she is married or a modern Hindu woman who wears the symbol nevertheless.

From looking at her relaxed gait one can see these mountains are her home. She knows every crack, crevice and rock from here to Joktapur. She is relaxed and seems to me to look like any 20 year old enjoying the sun and not thinking about anything in particular. She flashes us a white waterfall smile.

After three days on the Anapurna Circuit I was bewitched by this place. A light mist had fallen over me, like the mists you can see shrouding Everest when you fly past it for the first time. A Himalayan spell of dirt tiered mountains, jagged rock edges framed by deep blue and white above, mountain streams no longer breathing but frozen in ice beauty, monkeys chattering and following us through the dense darkness of majestic trees in forests that reminds me of Tolkien.


Our guide Prakash chats to the girl in Nepalese. She giggles but does not make eye contact with him. We sit down on the rock cut chair. In the distance, two parkers can be seen advancing on us. A red and a navy parker, two dark beanies, two sets of hiking boots and two walking prods striding in strong, and determined motion. Prakash leans over to me and says:

“The girl told me ‘they’,” he points to the oncoming travelers, “are German and are how you say, “rude,” rude to her family at their lodge,” he whispers.

“Oh, that’s no good.” I say to him.

The girl nods towards me and smiles. She obviously recognizes their mannerisms and stride. As the two continue, they keep their pace up, rhythmical and rigid. When they get closer the man says, “allo,” and I say, “hello” and the others nod towards him.

Winter in Nepal, icicles jut out of caves, chasms and over rocks, and freezes waterfalls; but it won’t deter these people. They are going to conquer this land and are not going to slow down or alter their paths. A stubborn blindness to the magnificent Himalayas and the medieval culture around them is evident. Nothing will distract them from their course. It is as if a mental checklist is being ticked off with every squelch of their walking sticks into the ground.

As they come nearer something else becomes obvious to us, but not to them. They do not look at us as they approach, but smile impersonally, looking off at some imaginary point straight ahead. We try to look away but find ourselves drawn back, like when you see a large hairy wart on someone’s face. But this was clear and rigid, sticking straight down from their noses to their top lips as direct as the path they have set for themselves. Four frozen phlegm stalactites transform them into figures on the stage of a Divine comedy. I suppress my laughter and so does Jasmine, my traveling companion. The Nepalese girl puts her hand over mouth.

Onward they march, no breaks for these troopers. When they disappear over the slope the four of us roar with laughter. Our Nepalese friend laughs long after we stop. I wonder if she sees it as some kind of Divine retribution towards these people; moving through her mountains with the arrogance and presumption of European explorers in Africa.

© Copyright 2018 Suzanne Strong. All rights reserved.

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