House Arrest: Read, Sleep and Imagine

Yesterday was the coldest day in Kathmandu as we experienced the first sign of the arrival of winter: it rained and, according to what I read in papers, mercury dropped to 4 degrees Celsius. The rain made impressive front page headlines in today’s papers but for me, though, the cold had arrived a few days earlier. From the very morning in last Friday, I was starting to feel uneasy in my throat. I had taken shower that morning and wasn’t wearing warm clothes. Throat was getting worse by the evening and I was having difficulties to sallow water. My priority was to gargle with salty water as I reached home past 10:30 PM. I knew I would be unable to wake up in the morning. I will be having fever, I told myself, so I must take care of my fragile body. With that decision, I went on to dream about a healthy life.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my throat healed. It was getting better! Never before like this had happened. There was no fever and I was feeling less pain. Still I decided not to take any chance. Wagle babu, you must get well, I told myself, so no venturing outside this concrete building for the day. Read the book, or sleep as much as you want but no going out. But, the other me countered, you are supposed to interview a celebrated Pakistani mountaineer this evening (9th December). You have to be there at Malla Hotel at 3 PM to meet this man who has climbed Everest and K2, worlds second highest mountain, because there is no way you can cancel the appointment just because you are sick. Yes, in journalism I work on my terms most of the time: I do reporting when I feel like doing (and fortunately, I feel like that writing most of the time). Sometime you can’t really say you don’t want to do this or that because there are some appointments that are difficult to cancel. I hate calling and canceling the appointments, I don’t know why. And I can’t imagine not showing up in the scheduled venue on time without first informing the other side.

No worries boy, you will be rescued.

To my relief, Nazir Sabir calls at around 10 AM to request that the appointment be deferred to the next day, about the same time. Wow, I told myself, that’s what I wanted. “Thank you sir,” I tell him. “I have absolutely no problem. Please enjoy the film.” The chairman of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, who had arrived earlier this week to take part in the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMF), wanted to see a movie “of my friends.” He says that he just realized the timing of the movie screening had collided with our appointment time. No problem, you want to see the movie and I really need to have rest for the day.

I grab the book that I was reading and continue turning pages. I didn’t watch much TV and didn’t go in front of computer very often. I stayed inside sirak most of the time and kept reading the book. Yes, I slept a lot. “It’s been 72 hours,” Email said this morning (Dec 12), “that you are on the bed. I hope your ribs are all fine.”

“Well, I needed this much of sleeping, didn’t I?” I replied, defensively. “I was waking up early in the morning and leaving home as if the world would stop functioning if I didn’t do so. I was tired of waking up early and sitting in front of computer whole day.”

I don’t remember when I stayed like this in home last time but this is quite fun. Especially the book made my stay in home really a good experience. I must be thankful to that American girl who left the book to me as she went back to the States. I hope to write more about my impression of the book, Kafka on the Shore, by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami after I finish reading it. My initial impression was that the book is just a popular fiction but as I turn the pages, I find it slightly more than that. Story is a bit weird (cats talk and fishes fall from over the sky) but overall combination is okay. I am half way through the book so I don’t think its now time to give my full verdict!

I don’t remember dreaming but I kept imagining all sorts of things. Kafka Tamura, the 15-year-old protagonist of the book was central in most of my imaginations. Mind is amazing, it is so bid. You can imagine so many things that I wonder if it were a hard drive, it could be possible to store trillions of terabytes of information. Sometime it is so much fun to imagine, imagine being on the moon at one moment and swimming in the sea in the next. Everything comes into mind. Lying on bed, covered by sirak, imagine everything you please! Would I opt for the adventurous life that Kafka chooses at 15? I just imagine being Kafka for the moment and decide not be one instantly.

Coming to reality, I went to see Nazir Sabir on Sunday and talked with him about his mountaineering experiences. “Mountains are like beautiful women,” he said. “You can’t really compare them.” Here comes the connoisseur of the Himalayas, I tell myself, with a lead line to my story. I had asked him which mountain he liked the most: Mount Everest or Mount K2. He climbed both mountains in second attempts. First attempts in both himals failed and he considers mountains the Mecca. “These both mountains are equally beautiful and challenging to climb.” He said. Equally challenging like impressing beautiful women? I wanted to ask but that would be too much, I thought and kept listening to him. Then he described in detail about his Everest and K2 adventures, emotions attached with climbing attempts on both mountains. I hope to write the story for my paper this evening. I washed my hair and made my tauko dandruff free. I am ready to move out. I decide to keep the book inside my side pocket of North Face jacket. It will be useful in Nepal Yatayat. The jacket is warm and I hope it will keep me safe from the chill. When I was in Malla Hotel to interview Nazir Sabir, I was quite embarrassed to see myself in this big jacket where as he was wearing a light jacket. I was like who is the real mountaineer among us? Who climbed Mt. Everest and Mt. K2?

Yesterday (Dec 11, Monday) was a complete rest day. Throat was getting well and I wasn’t feeling bad anymore. I was hooked to the book and I spend sleeping in the afternoon. In the evening, power went off because of the weekly load shedding schedule. I continued reading book with candle light. Then the time came for the Indian reality show on Sony (Bigg Boss). I have become a regular viewer of the show but I am not in a position to say if I like the program much.