Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guitars & Nepal

blog: 1. (noun) a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc., on a regular basis. 2. (verb) add new material to or regularly update a blog.
Well, that was helpful. I still don’t know how to blog.
Anyways, y’all didn’t get a blogpost on Nepal from me. So sorry about that. I like to blame lack of computer due to selfish parents, but then again, I’m biased.
Nepal in one word: Phantasmagorical (I swear to you I did not make that word up).
Nepal in more words: gorgeous. Great. Loud. Noisy. Fascinating. Colorful. Ridiculously interesting. Great temples. Cool people. Epic clothes. Fun.
All in all, I loved Nepal. I loved seeing the temples (did not love reading up on them beforehand, though), and I loved seeing the clothes, and, sadly enough, I loved walking by the guitar store and nearly bursting into tears*. Our hotel was right outside a school, and I actually liked hearing all the kids screaming and laughing outside (I didn’t like the kid upstairs, though, who, according to Mom, was playing with a hammer). The only part I didn’t like were the vaccinations, as I do not, in general, like vaccinations.
*This is the part where I start moaning in regret. The things I miss most from home are my piano and guitar. I’ve been studying piano since I was six, and have been avoiding it religiously ever since my first lesson. Guitar, however, I’ve only been studying since I was eleven, and avoided just as religiously until this summer, when I started to play it much more often. But now that I’ve gone and there is no way for me to play them (Apps are not adequate replacements), I’d like to go home and spend a ridiculously huge amount of time just playing**.
**Of course not “just playing”! I have compositions to compose! Accompaniments to arrange!
Oh God I sound like Maria.
Ahem. Anyways, I’ve been informed that blogposts don’t have to be a million words long. Just 500 is OK. So, I’m just going to talk about Chitwan, Nepal, which was the most epickingest part of Nepal (I didn’t make that word up either. Your spellcheck, however, will disagree).
To reach Chitwan from Kathmandu, a bus must be taken. The road will occasionally have bumps, but it’s mostly a smooth ride. After many hours, Chitwan is reached. We get to Sapana Lodge, which is beautiful and bright, and are given the welcome drink, which is delicious. Naran, the manager, comes up to us to discuss rooms (we’d originally booked two, but they had an overbooking problem and he wanted to know if we were willing to have just one big room instead), program (if we want to go to the village, through the jungle, bird-watching, canooing, etc.), prices, etc. We go to our one big room and quickly acquaint ourselves with three little girls and an even littler boy. I cannot remember their names for the life of me, but they were very sweet and would kiss us, hug us, put flowers in our hair, and ask for pens, hairties, money, candy, and my crucifix. The pens we needed and didn’t give, the hairtie I wouldn’t have minded giving if it hadn’t been my only purple one (sobs into handkerchief), candy I did not have, and my crucifix was mine, and, considering how possessive I can be of my things, I’m surprised they escaped unscathed (I think it was the cuteness factor). And as for the money, before we left the US, I took out all the cash from my wallet ($6) and put it in one of the many pockets from my Scottevest, which was what I’d been wearing when we met the children. As they were putting flowers in our hair, it occurred to Maria that she and Mom needed hairties (of which I was in possession). The hairties were in the same pocket as the money. Later, as I was putting the hairties away, one of the girls stuck her hand in my pocket and came out with the cash. She gave one to each of them and kept one for herself, then gave me the remaining two dollars. They hugged me and left. Since then, I have not carried cash longer than necessary.
That evening we went to a Tharu village not that far from the lodge and we met with more children. They asked us our names and we asked them theirs, and some brought us flowers. One of the little boys took to taking dramatic poses and shouting, “ILENA!”* at the top of his lungs. Pretty soon all the kids where shouting my name and by the time we left the village, I had my hands and my hair full of flowers.
*Meeting non-Romanians that can pronounce my name properly is just short of astounding, and results in having that non-Romanian reaching a very high level of respect in my eyes (so far it’s just Nick). For those who can’t say my name, Ilena/Alana is [just barely] acceptable. Nicknames are suitable.
On the way back from the village I ceremoniously dropped the flowers on the Grandmother River and watched them float away. I kept the little boy’s purple flower in my hair, though.
After dinner there was a Tharu stick dance demonstration. It was pretty much indescribable. It was like martial arts a bit, but still dance. It reminded me a bit of the hora, which is a traditional Romanian dance, mostly because of the dancing around in a circle, I guess, and probably the white outfits. After they showed us the harvest dance, the fire dance, the war dance, and more—there was one last dance in which they asked us to join in. I failed worse than snowman with a hairdryer, but GOLDARNIT I HAD FUN.
The first full day in Chitwan was spent like so: a lovely elephant ride through the jungle, where we saw trees, leaves, plants, and occasionally even (gasp!!!) animals. It was lovely, so long as you ignored the elephant driver as he beat the poor elephant with his stick, but besides that it was gorgeous. Then, after the elephant riding, we went elephant washing. It was very wet. But it was amazing! The elephant is so huge and so rough, but so soft and loving... I can’t believe that such a huge animal, one which could easily overcome an unarmed human, puts up with the sort of treatment it receives from its handler. Not all handlers are bad, though. As we were walking into the jungle for the elephant ride, we passed a handler and his elephant. He was sitting on the elephant’s neck, eating crackers, then the elephant would then reach up with his trunk and would receive a cracker.
After the washing, we lazed around in the room, attempted to connect to internet, and in Maria’s case, swung in hammocks, until the evening where we took a canoe ride to the elephant breeding center, which, unlike the Beijing Zoo, did not have cages, but was no less saddening.
The next day, Ioan and Dad were going to go bird-watching, but Ioan had developed a fever from the Typhoid shot, and so stayed home, to his infinite sadness. Mom stayed in the room with him as Maria and I played badmington with Jamal our waiter, Paras the assistant cook, and another waiter. Then Dad came back from bird-watching and it was Maria and Jamal vs. Dad and I. They won, but only because the wind was on their side. Then Dad and Jamal faced off and Jamal won again. I played a bit of football soccer with Jamal as Maria played more badminton, and then we went back to our room.
Later, I was writing outside as Jamal was drying the glasses. One thing that I’d noticed about him was that he liked to sing, but, unfortunately for me, he sang quietly. So I asked him what he was singing.
“Nepali love song,” he said.
“Oh. Will you sing it for me?” I asked, being the insatiably curious one that I am.
“Nooooo,” he said, embarrassed. “What about you, do you sing?”
“Well, um, yeah. You know. A bit.”
“Sing something for me,” he said, making encouraging gestures.
“Oh, okay.” I said. “I like to ride with a jungle-machine repair man. Na na na na na na na na na... He was high on individualism. I’ve never been there but the brochure looks nice... Jump in, let’s go. Lay back, enjoy the show. Everybody gets high, everybody gets low. These are the days when anything goes. Everyday is a winding road... I get a little bit closer. Everyday is a na na sigh... I get a little bit closer, I’m feeling fine.” (In my defense, I don’t really know this song. It was just stuck in my head since the elephant ride.)
Jamal clapped, complimented my voice, and asked for another. The result was “Fearless” by Taylor Swift. He said I sang like this boy, he didn’t know the name... The waiter from earlier came over with his cellphone and they found the singer, so I came over and listened to one of Justin Bieber’s earlier singles. Is it okay to be told you sing like Justin Bieber if you’re a girl? Dad’s bird-watching guide came over too and they asked me to sing more. I brought out my iTouch and sang some of my own lyrics. They recorded me, took pictures and video, and added their compliments to Jamal’s. Almost thirty feet over, the director, Dhruba, heard me and shouted that my voice was beautiful and that he thought someone was playing a CD. Then he said the most beautiful thing that I had ever heard in my whole entire life: his friend had a guitar, and they could bring it over tonight. Naturally, my reaction was, “A guitar?!! Where?!! When?!! Can I have it now? Can I keep it?” but instead I just said, “Really? Thanks!” (how unoriginal).
All throughout dinner, everyone was coming up to me saying that, sorry, the friend is late, but he is coming and we can play around the campfire after dinner. Then, when the friend arrived and the food was eaten, they ushered me to the campfire and I played.
And then, the worst possible thing happened: I forgot all the chords.
Naturally not the lyrics. Lyrics can be sung in the shower and at the top of one’s lungs in empty hotel rooms. But chords require guitars (or guitar apps). But I’d forgotten to copy the chords to my songs somewhere other than in notebooks. Which happened to be in a big, plastic box. Beneath my bed. At home.
(Lucky me, I know exactly which notebook. It’s green, spiral-bound, has 70 sheets, cost about ten cents, and has “Thirteen” written in black ink on the cover. The chords are on the last page of “At a Gas Station”, which is in the middle of the notebook.)
Even luckier, I still remembered the chords to my favorite song I’d written, “Last Time (The Rain Falls)”, “Na Na Na (Campfire Song)” also by me, and “I Love You” by Avril Lavigne. The guitarist friend played more songs, mostly Nepali songs, but also Pink Floyd. At one point he asked me who my favorite singers were, to which I quite naturally said Guns N’ Roses.
“Do you know ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’?” he asked.
The answer was a yes, so he played it and I sang along. Later we also sang my all-time favorite, “Don’t Cry”, which I forgot the lyrics to.
Of course, I was not the only one singing. Mom sang a song about a man who meets a wolf, to whom he says, “Don’t eat me, wait for my wife.” The wife comes along and the man says, “You can eat me or my wife, better yet, eat my mother-in-law!” Another of the guests who’d heard me singing the day before sang a song like “Just look on the bright side of life...” All in all, we had the most lovely time around the campfire, singing and guitar-playing. I hated leaving the next day, but while waiting for the parents to get in the jeep to get to the bus, Maria and I started planning.
“When I come back here,” I said, “I’m bringing Lydia and Ingrid.”
“I’m bringing Helen.” Said Maria. “Oh, but I have to take her to France first.”
“Maybe I should bring Michael?” I asked.
“Um, because it’s Michael, and he’s sweet and fun and hilarious?”
“Yeah, but still.”

1 comment:

  1. A Unique Blog as well as interesting blog!!!!!!!
    Looking forward for more post like these......
    Thanks for sharing.....


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