View from my bedroom of Machhupuchhare

This is the fishtail mountain that is illegal to climb because of its religious significance for Nepali and particularly the Gurungs.  The extra is of Sarankot mountain from which I jumped to fly with an Egyptian vulture called Kevin a couple of years ago.  You can just see hang gliders spiralling up on the thermals.

Slept so well last night – it really feels like coming home.  For those reading this who don’t know the background I came here for the first time in 1991 and met up with a young man called Sanja who gave me a great massage for I had come here in an old army lorry with 24 other people, camping all the way.  I returned the following day to show him a few techniques to help people with bad backs and then returned the following year to set up a physical therapy clinic with him in the tourist Lakeside area of Pokhara. Sanja’s wife Ajamburi and small son Raju came down from the mountain village to look after us both.  (Everyone should have a wife – they are amazing!) We worked the autumn and spring tourist trekking seasons for 17 years or so and each winter I went down to India where it was a bit warmer and then went back to England for the summer.  We lived very simply in a lean-to at the back of a garage shop – first we extended the shop down a couple of steps to a concrete floor for the treatment room. Then we built a lean-to beyond that with a dung and mud floor which was the kitchen with a bed for the family.  I slept in the treatment room – at first on the floor and then on the couch when I had had a couple of encounters with rats!  We had a communal garden at the back for 6 garage/shops with a pump where everyone washed themselves and clothes and a communal latrine with a curtain over the entrance.  That was replaced very smartly one day for as I was squatting a cow marched up and whisked the curtain away with her horns…In our shop we sold Buddhist Thankas – paintings on cloth with lovely embroidered borders and when I went down to India I found a jeweller who made things that I liked or designed and brought them back for us to sell.  So there were three ways to ‘catch’ tourists – Thankas, silver and massage/osteopathy.  If someone was holding their back when looking at a Thanka…or if they’d had a treatment we took their money over the jewellery counter…Any way to help the family finances for little Raju at 3 years old was going to an English Medium kindergarten and there were family to support in the mountain village.  Ajamburi (Sanja’s and my wife) became pregnant and when she was due I left some money for the hospital and went on a white water rafting expedition east of Kathmandu.  When I returned she had still not given birth.  She was being a bit short with Raju soon after so I watched waiting to see her off to hospital but she walked around the garden with Raju in tow breaking off twigs and setting them alight in a pottery dish. Then when they had turned to charcoal she called her cousin who sat on the step between the treatment room and dung and mud covered kitchen floor.  Raju sat on the bed watching as Ajamburi sat between her cousin’s legs, put the charcoal dish in the center of the room, pushed and little Geeta shot out down through her skirt onto the floor beside the warm dish.  The cord was tangled around her neck so I stepped forward to sort it out and Ajamburi fought me like a tiger for I learned afterwards that nobody should touch the baby until the placenta arrives.  Well, she wasn’t going to live that was for sure so I strangled my neck to indicate the problem and did the necessary and got her breathing.  Soon the neighbour heard the cries and came in with a new razor blade and a new rupee in a piece of cloth.  She tied the little bundle tightly over the navel after she had tied and cut the cord.  Then the jolly midwife arrived – she had a hare lip and wonderful smile and having checked over Ajamburi and put her on the bed she took Geeta, dried her off and then covered her in mustard oil and proceeded to massage her – stretching her limbs and neck and elongating her – the baby seemed to love it perhaps because she had been cramped for so long.  Then the cousin wife flipped out a breast and fed Geeta (she had a 9 month old of her own) so that Ajamburi could rest and allow her milk to flow a bit later. So this is why this is my second home and second family.  Raju is now a civil engineer (after the earthquake especially they will always be in demand) and Geeta is in her third year at University… 

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