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Himalaya

Day 47: Lekhani

Michael Palin - HimalayaIt's not just dried mud I was sleeping on last night. As I made my way to the makeshift toilet, my torch picked out evidence that a menagerie of beasts had been easing themselves on our campsite for quite some time. When it also picked out a trail of bones and an abandoned flip-flop I decided to switch it off.

Up at six. Nawang Dorjee, who I think may be the nicest person in the world, brings me tea and a little while later a small bowl of hot water for washing. Check the view. Yes, everything's still there. The Himalayas, the rocky slopes, the wooded spurs, the village without roads or streets. Poinsettia, oleander, frangipani and dry-stone walls. Farmhouses, simple and solid, as beautiful as any Italian hill village. When you look more closely, though, you can see that none of them has glass in the windows, only wooden shutters to keep out the winter cold, and the living space, though picturesque, is squeezed on one level, with space below reserved for stores of grain, firewood, animal feed and the animals themselves. A number of the houses have water buffaloes in the basement, big and black, like old vintage cars.

As I clean my teeth I look up the hill. A buffalo, being milked by an old woman, her head resting against its wide grey flanks, gazes impassively back. Prayer flags move lazily on their poles (there must be a Tibetan influence here), smoke drifts from the rooftops below and a pair of young women, with long dark hair, coming slowly up the hill, stop for a moment to adjust the headbands that carry the full weight of their baskets and to give us a good looking over.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 47: Lekhani
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Lekhani
  • Book page no: 104

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