That Footpath University!

I was rambling in the streets of Kathmandu when a stray dog started leading my way one day.

I got confused. “Did he know that I was like him; nothing to do, nowhere to go?”

I decided to follow him. Yes, I said I decided to follow a stray dog. Because I was like him.

After some five minutes, the dog stopped, turned his head back, raised his eyes up to mine, blinked once and resumed his journey again. Maybe he was glad that he found a partner! I kept following him.

Sometime later, a next dog from the verandah of a house barked towards him. There was no reason. As soon as he saw, he started barking.

“Why should he bark towards a being same as him? Son of a bitch! (Pardon me here; I really meant to offend him but how was a dog offended when he was said a son of a bitch. He was the son of a bitch indeed) Maybe he should have learnt this elitist manner from his owner” I thought. “Just because he is sitting on a sofa inside a house, he thinks he is superior? Otherwise, why should that elite dog bark without any reason?”

I wished I could understand their language and know what that elite dog barked for! But my partner did not care. He did his dog-business at one of the corners of the gate and moved. And I loved that.

He always became the leader and me, the follower. I would advance for a short time when he stopped for his dog-business but he would leave me behind in no time. It went on like that until he saw some other dogs playing on a ground, and twisted his move towards them.

Oh, I had thought that he was just wandering, nowhere to go. Like me. But he had an aim? An aim to reach to his companions?

He moved towards them and they discussed something I did not understand.

Did you really have an aim?” I wished to ask.

Has he headed here? Has he really aimed this location or just because he meets someone to get engaged with, he’s stopping here? Is that why he did not argue with that elite dog who barked at him? Because he knows that he wouldn’t reach his destination in time if he started debating with each of the dogs that bark at him?” Again, I wished I could understand and speak their language.

Will I ever find some place/people to get engaged with? Like this dog?

I just leant against a wall and watched them with a blank mind for a long time. None of them cared my presence.

Being ignored by somebody who you think cares you is the worst feeling.

Some swallows flew over my head. I shifted my gaze towards them. My eyes swooped with them in the sky for a long time.

I heard some giggles. I turned around. On the other side of the road, just beyond the footpath, there was a park, The Fiction Park. A couple was laying down facing towards the sky. She raised her hand and pointed towards the sky. He did the same. I looked up to see what it was. There was only a moon in the deep blue sky, smiling. Maybe because the moon also heard their plans she was smiling. I smiled with the moon for some time. But I could not stop from bursting into laughter for long. The couple stood up and moved away.

I heard a faint, flute melody far away. But that faded in no time. Maybe, the gust of the wind that just passed away brought it!

I turned towards the swooping swallows. But they also had already flown out of sight.

“Oh, where am I going?” I got confused.

“Ah, I was following him. The dog. Where would a derelict go!”  But now, the dog had met his companions. When he met his companions, why would he give a damn care to me! He did not even turn back to look at me now. I expected that he, at least, turned towards me once, and felt sorry that he was no longer my friend.

I was alone. Left alone even by a stray dog!

Nobody cares a derelict. Not even stray dogs!

There was no point in staying there. There was no point in leaving the place either because I had nowhere to go. But I did not feel like staying in the place where I was being ignored even by stray dogs. I moved. Moved towards a place I found yesterday, nearby a temple, where I could sleep comfortably and could even get something to eat if the prayers were kind enough like the day before.

Representative photo; from Rajana’s blog

But, to my great surprise, the dog came following me. I became speechless. Even if I had something to say, he would not understand. This time, he only followed me. If I stopped, he would stop and look up at my eyes and down to the ground as if he was looking for something around. I kept leading and he kept following me until we reached my destination this time. There was nobody. I lay down. I saw the moon again. I recalled the couple’s plans and laughed again. The dog sat beside my feet.

Sometime later, in the evening, I got two loaves of bread from a prayer. I gave one to the dog and ate one. Had I not given him a single piece, he would have neither demanded, nor protested. I just felt like giving a whole. I didn’t know why. That was all for our dinner that day. And we slept.

Early in the morning, the dog got up. I got up. He looked at me as if he was ready.

Does he want to go for a morning walk?

He had already reached quite far when he turned back and looked at me. “Aren’t you coming?”

I began to follow.

“Hey! Jungey, wait!” I heard like someone calling me. I turned back. There was a fat man jogging hastily.

“How did this man know my name? I don’t think I have seen him before. I don’t even know who named me Jungey. Who is this man actually?” I stood still, confused and waited for him.

But to my disbelief, the man jogged past me even without looking at me once. “What the hell is going on here? I am cent percent sure that he called my name and even waved at me to stop. Is he sane?”

But he left me behind and kept jogging. He reached to the dog, who I was following, picked him up and held in his arms, patted and spoke in a quite scolding voice, walking, “Why did you leave home, you rascal?”

There was nobody to lead my way.

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A week of destinationless travel

It all began from Kharkatta village, Madi valley, Chitwan. Maja decided to take some rest as well as start some writings for her report. Maja, an MSc student from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark was doing her field work for MSc thesis, in the Madi valley of Chitwan. I had the responsibility of assisting her. At first the plan was like, to finish the whole field work within a month, or stay for some more days if we didn’t become able to complete our target. But she wished to take a break after two weeks of work. She planned to go to Sauraha and stay there for a week. I had nothing to do (except for a few transcriptions), nowhere to go!

“Should I go to Kathmandu or Pokhara?” I don’t know. I can go anywhere. But I have to go to Bharatpur bus park at first and get a bus, for her, to Sauraha.

February 17

We left Kharkatta at 7:30 and reached the Bharatpur bus park at 11:30. The auto drivers started decreasing their price themselves; we just needed to stand silently for a while. After haggling with one of them for some time, she decided to take an auto rather than bothering to look for buses that would go only to another bus park but not to the hotel she had booked.

But where should I go?

I had made mind to go Pokhara because it had been quite long I hadn’t met my college friends. But the Mugling-Narayanghat road section was closed till 16:00 for maintenance. That meant I had to consume around 4 more hours.

What suddenly came to my mind is – Why not go to Sauraha! The auto was right in front! And I had never been to Sauraha! How lucky me! And I travelled towards Sauraha.

After wandering around Sauraha for about 2 hours, I went to the Pokhara bus park. When I reached there at 15:45, there was only one microbus to Pokhara crammed with people. And the khalasi was saying that was the last bus to Pokhara. Lol, the road opens at 16:00 and the khalasi was saying, at 15:45 that, that was the last bus. More amazingly, there were people who believed. How easily these people believe khalasis! No matter to me even if that was the last one. Because there was nothing that I needed to reach Pokhara the same day. I could stay around there and go Pokhara next day early. So I just waited for another bus.

But it took too long. No sooner had I decided to look for a hotel than the bus came. It came at 17:00. I boarded the bus!

It was obvious that I would reach late. I reached Pokhara at 22:00. Where would I go other than my Institute of Forestry! That is the only reason, that there is this campus, I go to Pokhara. That was that.

February 20

After two days at Pokhara, Professor Santosh Rayamajhi called and asked if I was free for 2-3 days. He only needed a friend to travel to Tansen, Palpa for some of his work. That too in his car.

Why would I deny! I had never been to Tansen. And I was aimless throughout the week!

But he told later that he needed to go up to Tamghas, Gulmi. And the journey to Tamghas began on Feb 21.

February 21

February 22

The whole day, we travelled to remote villages of Gulmi; Isma, Dhurkot, Madane etc.

February 23

The journey back to Pokhara began. We stopped and wandered around Ridi bazaar, Palpa for a while. And in the evening, at Pokhara again.

February 24

Now it was time to go to Madi for work. I had to reach Bharatpur on Sunday, Feb 25. Being unsure if I would stay at Mugling in the evening and start for Bharatpur early next day, I started my journey from Pokhara at around 13:00. Fortunately, I reached Narayanghat the same evening.

And the week-long destinationless travel ended!

February 25