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20181126_153747We had gone for a night to Nagarkot with someone we met at the Kathmandu hostel.  It had felt good to get out of Kathmandu and to see countryside, and agriculture.  From the car window I had seen straw stacked in round peaks, the stacks looked like little houses.

A pile of straw fanned out against a wall and onto the ground in perfect symmetry.  In the centre of it all slept a sandy coloured dog, perfectly coordinated.

I had seen rice terraces making green steps in the landscape.  To one side there was farmland and then alarming drops as we ascended, on the other side a wall of roughly hewn sandy coloured rock with big chunks of rock on the ground below.  The rocks sparkled in the sunlight.

Our guesthouse was up some wooden steps.  To one side was a rough wall of rock with delicate looking plants growing out.  Close up I could see that the rock sparkled; beautiful, like a natural rockery…

Continued from previous post…

An hour earlier I’d stood at the edge of the guesthouse’s sunny terrace, looking out at the view (in the header photograph) which was so beautiful it was unreal, talking with my husband, and crying.

The previous day I had allowed myself to be provoked during a conversation about vegetarianism and veganism.

As every vegan-baiter and vegan knows only too well, the fastest way to annoy a vegan or vegetarian is to bring up the suffering of plants; refer to cavemen and lions; question the vegetarian/vegan about the origins of their essential prescribed medication; and then regale them with tales of family hunting expeditions.

Still, I shouldn’t have lost my cool; even though to do so gave me a temporary rush of energy- I almost never get really annoyed.

But the subsequent come down, alongside going over and over the whole thing in my mind, seeing where I had acted ineffectively and regretting my part, caused my mood to spiral downwards, all the way through feeling fat and ugly, down to social awkwardness, paralysis, right the way down to self harm and suicide fantasies.

As an observer of myself, it was interesting to watch, and reinforced what I already knew: that confrontation and argument is not beneficial to my wellbeing.  However, that’s not to say it was not beneficial in other ways, I learned a lot, even if I didn’t want to repeat the experience in a hurry.

Reflecting on it on my own late at night in bed, and then talking about it with my husband in the morning, cemented my understanding: use such encounters (and everything) to develop or wake myself up, not to try and develop or wake the other person up; and forced me to let myself off: ‘We’re not Buddhas,’ my husband said.

After we said goodbye to Oasis and the rest of the staff we walked down to the bus stop and caught the first of the return buses.

Moments of fear on the journey: the drop, the unmade road in a bumpy bus.  Just breathe, accept, and be.  Moments of luminosity: a woman walking quickly towards the bus, she was wearing plastic slip on sandals with thick socks, a cotton saree, a cardigan, and a crocheted pink hat.  My heart pinged open, again.  Just breathe, accept, and be.

Between buses we stopped for food; black coffee and fruit salad, a plate of chopped fruit with a fork, and a cool glass of water.  We sat inside looking out onto a lake. It reminded me of Pushkar.

In front of us was a big tree, with women selling vegetables and fruit from blankets spread out on the ground.

I bought two cigarettes and they brought them on a white saucer with an ashtray and a box of the thin matches that I often find so hard to light.  I remembered on a day trip to Kollam in Kerala, we stopped to look at a fish market and I bought a cigarette from a little stall.  Under pressure, worried about using a poor person’s last few matches, I couldn’t light them and my husband helped me.  Here there were plenty and I didn’t worry, I lit it first go each time.

I could see the refection of big dark green trees on the other side of the lake in the water.  To my left at the far end of the lake, was a group of women in different beautifully coloured sarees, all reflected in the water below.

The water was so still.  I thought about how water needs to be still to reflect the world and about how this is a metaphor.

Thank you very much for reading

* Oasis from The Hotel at the End of the Universe

Photographs taken by my husband                                                                For more photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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