November 10, 2009: Madi to Dhakalthar

We are up at 6AM and packing as this is our day of departure. Manikula makes us some breakfast and tea and by 8 we are on our way. Megh goes with us part of the way as the path is wet and a bit dangerous so he stays with us through the worst parts. At one point he points to a path and says that it would be impossible for us to follow that route – it’s the one we took yesterday.

It is a beautiful day for waking and within 2 hours we are sitting down at the guest house in Kusmi Sera and ordering soup. We walk up and down the street and, as with our Spring trip here, we provide the local entertainment. Tineke buys some bracelets including a set for the woman at the guest house who spontaneously bought her a set last Spring. Outside many young children gather around to look at us so I take all their pictures and show them. Then another group comes and they want their picture taken and that cycle continues on for awhile until our soup is ready.

The next stage of the trek is quite difficult so we decide to hire a local porter to carry the heaviest of our bags and this turns out to be the decision of the day as the heat and the climb are quite a challenge. Nevertheless the views are spectacular. Perhaps my memory is fading but I suspect that this view is as good at that from the famous Poon Hill – without the 300 tourists. Some of the jeepable roads are washed out but ironically this might be better for tourism as what remains is a very acceptable trekking trail.

After some time we finally arrive at Dhakalthar, a part of Amalchour VDC and Gyanendra’s family house. On the way we meet countless relatives who come out to see Gyanendra. Everywhere people are working to get the rice harvest in. It is an intensive effort that goes on each day well past sundown.

Gyanendra’s mother and father are very happy to see him and treat us like visiting royalty. Soon they have a big pot of water boiling for us to shower (we oblige) and have already “cooked” drinking water so that our sensitive internal plumbing doesn’t get upset. We show the family pictures of what Gyanendra has been up to. His father is the Head Master of the local Higher Secondary School. Despite the high status what we see is just another farmer working at feeding the buffalo, cutting the rice and so on. For a snack he asks us if he would like some cucumber and then takes out the biggest cucumber I have ever seen – the size of a small pumpkin.

The farm has lemon trees with lemons the size of grapefruit. Lime trees as well. Gyanendra’s mother makes us a snack which includes this special lime sauce she has made – tart and spicy but delicious. Later instead of traditional dal bhat we have the rice served as khir (a rice pudding made with buffalo milk) and that makes a wonderful difference.

We have a great chat with Gyanendra’s father about traditional farming and the various technologies. He shows us the traditional pati container used for measuring amounts of rice or millet for sale. The container is made of thick brass and is very heavy and bears the stamp of the standards association marked as 1945 – but that would be Nepali 1945 (this year is 2060 ?) which would make the jar more than 115 years old and still in use.

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