Part 35

We are eating momos in a tiny rooftop-café
overlooking the Boudhanath Stupa: tourists,
monks, pilgrims turning prayer wheels, colourful
flags dispersing blessings in the tepid April
breeze. There is no sign of the mountains, a
heavy smog hangs over all of Kathmandu,
as if the sky has drawn a curtain. Believe, it
says. Believe what you cannot see, still is. We
rise higher in a tiny aeroplane until we are
face to face with the mightiest of them all.
Sagarmatha. Chomolungma. Those who
cannot endure the climb, come to see it
like this. There is silence in the cabin. Even
the cameras are still. In the presence of
majesty, you forget to exhale. Someone is
naming the other peaks. You don’t know
how to look away. Birthed by the collision
of continental plates. An extraordinary
becoming. You try to comprehend the
immensity. You try to absorb consequence.
You imagine fractals. Little accidents,
unremarkable results. Tiny mounds rising
like graves for unborn dreams. Tiny mounds
on which the grass never grows. The collision
of worlds of hope and despair. Ordinary stories.

(Kathmandu, Nepal)

25 thoughts on “Part 35

  1. Ah, Andrew and I did that flight too! Definitely the way to see it all. I doubt of the climbers have much time or energy for taking in the scenery. And oh my goodness, what a very long way it must take them even to reach Base Camp; I had no idea until I did that flight.

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    1. The sheer size is humbling… and then the magnificent sight it presents. Hats off to those who even consider the climb, leave alone summit it!!! That said, ‘Into the Silence’ by Wade Davis about the Mallory expedition is such a fantastic account.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bjorn. I think I feel the same about Scandinavia… don’t know if I’m up for those kind of temperatures but I imagine the landscape from what I read and think it must be quite surreal! I’d love to travel there though!

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  2. I feel the excitement of sight of the majestic mountains. Know the excitement as in NZ the mountains can put off a show too. Love it
    And then these gorgeous last 4 lines

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  3. I loved seeing this through your words. I would definitely have to be in the aeroplane! When I was young, I used to think Kathmandu wasn’t real. It was used so often in slang as a make-believe place off the map where (for example) some scoundrel might have absconded. I might never see it in person but this is why we read and write.

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  4. What an amazing thing, to have been in Kathmandu, and been so close to the peaks of those amazing mountains. I love the photos. Love every line of the poem. You took me there, a place I have long dreamed of and will never see.

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  5. I’d be awestruck into silence to – that’s no easy feat! 😀 The detail about the smog being thick enough to hide them. It’s interesting to remember that even vague wisps of nothing can hide the rock solid truth.

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  6. “There is no sign of the mountains, a
    heavy smog hangs over all of Kathmandu,
    as if the sky has drawn a curtain. Believe, it
    says. Believe what you cannot see, still is. ”

    Great deal of depth to this, Rajani. Well done.

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