I had an opportunity to have Tharu food in a stall on the ground. The food, Chicheri was similar to rice and was tasty. “What’s your name?” I asked the girl on my left for this caption. “Lina,” she said. And surname? “Come on,” she replied. “You are in a Tharu food stall.” Lina Chaudhari is a student of BA in a college in Chitwan and she was volunteering in the stall. Pic by Pawan Neupane
28 Dec: The final day of the elephant race. I slept till 3 PM. I read a few pages of The Story of Nobody. I wasn’t feeling well. Subrat Acharya SMSed me saying that the program was about to get over. I was planning to interview the winning elephant rider so I went slowly to the ground. I found an oxen cart on way and jumped over it for the bumpy ride. One guy came after a while and started conversation in broken English thinking that I was a foreigner. Many people have mistaken before. How can a bearded man carrying camera and wearing North Face jacket and trekking trouser be Nepali? I didn’t speak because I knew he was form a hotel or something and wanted me to book room there. When I responded in Nepali to Santosh Acharya, another friend of mine in Nepal Magazine, who was returning from the ground, the boy instantly realized that I wasn’t exactly the one he was looking for. He quickly left the cart but thankfully paid the fare.
I reached at the ground and interviewed (pic, above by Subrat Acharya) the man of the moment: Nasir Ali seated at the back of the elephant of the moment (Janga Bahadur). Here is what I wrote for Kantipur based on the interview:
यति कुरा गरिसकेपछि नासिरको दिमागमा हात्तीको कानमा हुने रहस्य फुत्त आएजस्तो भयो । ‘मान्नुस हात्तीको कान भनेको गाडीको एक्सिलेटर जस्तै हो,’ क्लोजअप मञ्जनको विज्ञापनमा देखिनेजस्ता सेता दात देखाउदै नासिर अलिले भने- ‘जति दबायो उति दौडिन्छ ।’
तर कुनै हात्ती कम र कुनै छिटो किन – निश्चिय नै, त्यो हात्तीको शरीर र बलमा भर पर्ने कुरा हो तर नासिरले फट्ट जवाफ दिए- ‘हजुर उसो त (मोटरसाइकलहरू) स्प्लेन्डर र आरएक्समा पनि फरक हुन्छ । स्प्लेन्डर अलि छिटो दौडिन्छ ।’ लौ, कुरैकुरामा जंगबहादुरको रेकर्ड उल्लेख गर्न बिर्सको । उसलाई तीनसय मिटर जान र सोही बाटो फर्किन फाइनलमा एक मिनेट ३७ दशमलव ३३ सेकेन्ड लागेको थियो । उसलाई दोस्रो हुने पवनकली (एक मिनेट ३७ दशमलव ९७ सेकेन्ड) बाट चर्को दबाब परेको थियो ।
Then we went to Elephant Breeding Center, a few kilometers from the ground. I had been there several years ago which I have already mentioned: with Roberto in 1998. That was quite nostalgic crossing over the muddy river in a boat packed with people. I took a video of the center. Here is the video from the elephant breeding center:
While returning, I bough a bottle of honey. “Hone from tori,” the man said. “How can honey be made from tori?” I asked. Never heard of honey from flower. “Well sir,” the honey is definitely from bees. But bees collected juices from tori. So its tori honey.” I was like wow and instantly paid Rs. 150.
No evening walk for dinner this evening. In the Unique resort folks started singing and dancing as Pawan and I stayed inside reading and sleeping. He was sleeping and I was turning the pages in the dim light of the hotel room. Subrat Acharya came to invite us to join the entertainment and I reluctantly went outside with him. Wasn’t really feeling well but couldn’t really reject his request as well. We outside and ate a piece of roasted chicken. That was warm and tasty.