Category Archives: Wagle Street Journal

a trip to ramechhap and dolakha [off-roading, paddling and hiking]

Likhu Khola. Ramechhap district on this side of the river, Okhaldhunga district on that side of the river.

Likhu Khola. Ramechhap district on this side of the river, Okhaldhunga district on that side of the river.

On way to Sanghutaar from Manthali. The road is recently built and is in operation during winter only

On way to Sanghutaar from Manthali. The road is recently built and is in operation during winter only

4-7 February 2013 Peter and I went to two hilly districts east of Kathmandu. Dolakha and Ramechhap. Business trip. One has to cross five rivers- Indrawati, Balephi, Sunkoshi, Tamakoshi (three times) and Khimti Khola- to reach Manthali, the district headquarter of Ramechhap. It Khandichaur, we paddled at Sunkoshi river for about 20 mins.

From Manthali, we drove to a place called Sanghutaar (sanghu= bridge, taar=a chunk of plain land) in a recently built, unpaved, super dusty and winter-only road. Sanghutaar is a 70-year-old small bazaar located right at the bank of Likhu Khola that separates Ramechhap from Okhaldhunga.

I was visiting this place after about 24 years. I was born and grew up in a village not very far from here (about five hours of walk). I have known Likhu Khola since my childhood days. I have seen the Khola in its good times and bad times- swollen, brown, wild and scary in monsoon and slim, white and feeble in winter. Once I swam across the river. (It was more walking than actual swimming.) पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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i was walking through the city streets… #oldDelhi

Look at his eyes that are looking at something else18th-19th March A trip to New Delhi is not complete without taking a walk through the animating streets of Old Delhi. The old part of Delhi feels like a super enlarged Ason. More chaos and bigger crowds. The contrast between New and Old is clearly visible and mind-boggling. On the new part of the city roads are wider and filled with cars. Some of them are BMWs, Porches and Ferraris.

I noticed the last one in Delhi in this trip. The autowallah stopped the auto I was in for a few seconds to let the car go ahead of him. He commented: “Delhi toh bahut dhani ho gaya hai. Ferrari vi aagaya ab.” [Delhi has become very rich. Now Ferrari has come here too]. I hadn’t spotted Ferrari when I lived in the city for two years (2008-11). पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Parthasarathy Rocks (and Flowers of JNU)

Dinesh Wagle at Parthasarathy Rocks in JNU. December 2008.

Dinesh Wagle at Parthasarathy Rocks in JNU. December 2008.

17th and 20th March 2013 When I was living in Delhi as a correspondent for Kantipur, PSR was my favorite place in the city. That, according to me, is also the most beautiful place in the whole of Delhi. I would spend hours at the Parthasarathy Rocks, located inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus chatting with friends and, when with Satish, strangers. The dhabas in the Uni during late evenings are great place to be. But nothing beats the experience of sitting over one of the main two rocks at PSR in late afternoon and watch planes fly and, if lucky, peacocks dance in the jungle that surrounds the rocks. I went there this time as well to spent a couple of hours along with Satish and Ishwari. Beautiful flowers of JNU campus deserve a separate entry- but for now I’ll limit myself to posting photos only.

One year into my stay in Delhi in 2009 I was full of praise for PSR and the “PSR experience”:

Back in Delhi, I am a grown up man with a responsibility to fulfill. It’s a blessing to me that my work not just involves sitting in front of computer with browsers open but also traveling and meeting new people. Listening to disheartening stories of poor, unfortunate and deprived Nepalis in Delhi is one of the darkest experiences.

Exploring the city, having dahi valla in Chandni Chowk and standing at the Parthasarathi Rocks of JNU have been some of the most fulfilling experiences. I would say being at the top of PSR, seeing peacocks singing and dancing and airplanes flying, is the best thing I have experienced in this city this year. That particular moment when I was photographed (by a camera!) at PSR was the best of all. I cherish that moment.

From  A Year in Delhi, India (6 Nov 2009)

Previous articles/entries on JNU:
1. Happy Holi India! (and JNU Chaat Festival)
2. Winter Flagbearers: Delhi Cold and JNU Food Festival
3. India, Universities and World Ambitions

Migrant Workers: Nepali (Rolpali) Porters of Shimla

भागी ती भागीका छोरा पिलेन घुइक्याउदा छन्
अभागी गरिवका छोरा भारी चुइक्याउदा छन्

मसुरी डाँडोमा भारतभरीका र संसारकै मान्छे पुग्छन् । ’em कुन देश या भारतीय राज्यका हुन् खुट्टयाउन हत्तपत्त सकिन्न । तर खुम्चिएको ढाका टोपी लगाएका, काँधमा नाम्लो भिरेका र यहाँका साघुरा गल्लीमा भारी बोकेर या त्यसै भौतारिइरहेका जुनै पनि मलिन अनुहारलाई सहजै चिन्न सकिन्छ । परिचय विनाकै पहिलो प्रश्न (‘कताबाट हो दाजू ?’) ले तत्कालै उत्तर पाइ हाल्छ– ‘कालिकोट’ ।

एक हिसावले पुरै मसुरी शहर कालिकोटेहरुको थाप्लामा अडिएको छ ।

केही मिनेट असिना बर्सिएपछि चिसिएको हालैको एक साँझ एक हुल कालीकोटेहरु मसुरीको केन्द्रमा रहेको घन्टाघर नजिकै सडक किनारमा आगो तापिरहेका थिए । दिउसो एकपटकमा डेढ क्विन्टलसम्म बोक्दाको थकान मेटाउन केहीले मदिराको सहयोग लिएका थिए जो गफमा प्रष्ट झल्किन्थ्यो ।

‘लौ लेख्नुस्, हामी कालिकोटका,’ ५९ बर्षे धनु विकले लरबरिएको लवजमा भने– ‘आफ्नो देशमा काम नपाएर अर्काकोमा कुकुरको जिन्दगी विताइरहेका छौं । यही हो हाम्रो खवर ।’

थाप्लोमा मसुरी (फेब्रुअरी २००९) बाँकी यहाँ छ .

Nepali porters of Mussoorie, India. Photo taken in 2009.

Nepali porters in Mussoorie, India. February 2009.

22/23 March 2013 For the first time in a long time I was traveling as a tourist with no possible story ideas storming at the back of my mind. This was a strange feeling and also a relief. I didn’t have to do a story when I was seeing one in front of me. I didn’t have to approach and talk to people the way a reporter in me normally would have. I didn’t have to organize the voices in a structured story. I was just a tourist, not a reporter looking for stories. Not that I hated doing all that but this time I was not a reporter, I was just a tourist.

Approaching people, talking to them and composing a story- that all takes effort. Words have to reflect, as accurately as possible, feeling of the people involved in the story. They have to portray pictures of people in such a way that this portrayal properly supplements the photos of the same people that are often printed alongside the story. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Dubai and Yam [केटो जो विदेशियो]

Friend Sudeep Shrestha is in UAE at the moment (today’s his last day there, as per his tweet) for what seems like a fun trip of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He filed a nice story of Nepali migrant workers there for Setopati the other day (पिङपङदेखि मिङमङ ). His trip, the photos he posted on his FB account and this story encouraged me to finish an entry that I started to write long ago on my Dubai trip last year. Highlight of the trip was my meeting with Yam whom I had interviewed for a story in Kantipur in 2008. I was meaning to post this entry sometime last month but laziness came in between me and this entry.

Wagle Street Journal

‘दुबई जाने चक्करमा छु हो सर,’ केही क्षण अघिसम्म उल्लासमय लवजमा गफिएको यामले अलि निराश स्वरमा अचानक त्यसो भन्दा मलाई कताकता चसक्क गरेजस्तो भएको थियो।

‘यो देशमा टिक्न नसकिने भइयो,’ प्रश्न सोध्नै नपाई उसले भनेको थियो।

केही बाध्यताले, बाँकी आफ्नै लापार्वाहीले २६ बर्षे याम रिनमा चुर्लुम्म डुबेको थियो जसबाट उत्रिन उसलाई विदेशिनुको विकल्प थिएन।

जिउदै छु प्रिय यतै भौतारिदै छु
के गर्न सक्थे अझ पछारिदै छु
एक्लिनुको पिडामा हारको पनि पिडा थपी
जसोतसो गल्लिमा लतारिदै छु

त्यो गजल यामकै हो। इन्टरनेटमा केटीहरुसँग च्याट नगरेको र म्यानपावर नधाएको बेला ऊ कापी पल्टाएर गजल कोर्न थाल्छ जो मुख्यत, भन्नै पर्दैन, निराशाले भरिएका संघर्ष र पीडाका गाथा हुन्छन्।

इन्टरनेट जालसाजीमा परेपछि विदेशिने चक्करमा लागेको याम फेरी फस्यो। थाइल्यान्डमा पानी जहाजमा काम लगाईदिने भनि उसलाई लगिएको थियो, मलेसियामा अलपत्र छाडियो। जसोतसो नेपाल फर्केपछि आफूलाई ठग्ने दलालको कठालो समाउन ऊ भारतीय शहरहरु पुग्यो तर नसकेपछि लत्रेर काठमान्डू आयो। ऊ थप रिनमा डुब्यो।

‘मेरा गजलजस्तो निराशावादी…

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Celebrating Success on Mountains

dinesh wagle

At the British Embassy yesterday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest. Pic by Peter

Nepal and the world of mountaineering celebrated 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) yesterday. I attended one celebratory reception at the British Embassy in Kathmandu (pic above by Peter Allen). Reinhold Messner and Lydia Bradey cut a cake in the shape of Sagarmatha. (Read more about the event here which is interesting). Friend Deepak Adhikari, who interviewed Messner at the event, said he loved the way an article that I wrote about Messner years back began. I couldn’t remember the story he was referring to. In the evening I Googled and found a few articles that I had written for Kantipur on mountaineering, the Sherpas and the world’s tallest mountains (Everest, Cho Oyu). I found one on Messner (written nine years ago) but I don’t think that’s the one Deepak was talking about. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

And the Monkey Stole My Glasses in Shimla

A fearless and agressive monkey ready to fight with a humanShimla’s monkeys are agressive and audacious. They don’t seem to miss an opportunity to intimidate, attack and assault humans. A huge Hanuman statue standing atop the Jakhu hill (of whose base the town Shimla is located, sort of) could be the source of their arrogance. That’s my assumption. Hanuman’s statue, way bigger than the Gandhi’s at the base of the hill, must have made them feel that they are superior to humans. Again, assumption. I noticed several ‘be aware of monkeys’ notices in the town.

I have seen monkeys in many places- in the village where I was born and grew up, in many other villages of Nepal that I have visited, and in jungles where my trail passed through. Have seen them in cities as well- many places of Kathmandu and Delhi (Have written an entire column about the unfriendly monkeys of Delhi that sneaked into my apartment to steal things- Humans and monkeys struggle for space in the Indian capital). But I’ll put the monkeys of Shimla at the top of the list of the most agressive monkeys that I have ever seen. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

A Quick trip to Shimla

Dinesh Wagle in Shimla

No prize for spotting me. Pic by Gokul Dahal

Shimla is a town of Monkeys who behave like Monkeys. But I will keep this album free of monkeys. I present here the atmosphere of the town- crowds and buildings- as I saw it.

During my two-year stay in Delhi as a reporter I traveled to most of the famous ‘hill stations’ in north India. Here’s the list: Darjeeling, Shillong, Mussoorie, Manali and Gangtok. Somehow I hadn’t found time to go to Shimla. I had imagined the place to be not drastically different from other hilly Indian towns. But some descriptions that I had come across (can’t remember the exact one at the moment) had put this place slightly ahead of others in the beauty contest of ‘queens of hills’. May be some political events (like the Shimla Agreement) provided some importance (and glamour) to the place. I also wanted to experience the toy train of Shimla (and wanted to compared it with similar one in Darjeeling). पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Toy Train to Shimla

Toy Train to Shimla and GokulWe wanted to come to Shimla in a toy train. Toy trains are slower and expensive than a bus ride to the hilly town. But we wanted to experience the train service (and route) that’s listed as UNESCO world heritage site. I also wanted to compare it with that of Darjeeling. On this route, tunnels that go through hills and some bridges are impressive.  22 March 2013

At the Shimla train station we were surprised by the sight of a train motor- it was just a single train car. Total passengers traveling: 11 including us (me and Gokul), the ‘train’ driver and a kid. At the Barog station from where the longest tunnel of the Kalka-Shimla route ends (or starts, depending upon where you are coming from) we chatted with the driver. Hari Singh from Uttar Pradesh state of India has been driving trains on this route for the past 30 years. He said BBC has made a film over him which is available in YouTube.  24 March 2013

Past entries on Indian trains:

1. The Great Indian Railway Bazaar
2. Indian Level Crossing
3. A Trip to Taj Mahal (Part I- Indian Railways)
4. Rajdhani Express 4
5. Toy Train 3  पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Crossing a river on a packraft

Just updated the entry on packrafting in Sunkoshi with photos and name of the river! More posts coming- from Ramechhap, Shimla, Delhi, Chitlang and more rivers (Likhu, Indrawati, Balephi and again Sunkoshi).

Wagle Street Journal

Dinesh Wagle -Sunkoshi River Khandichaur Today I crossed a river. Twice. On a packraft. By myself of course. It was fun. A bit scary. But it was all okay. Crossing back was challenging. But I did it. Considering it was one of Nepal’s big rivers, I feel my performance, first ever, was not that bad. A video of my little adventure sometime at the end of this week.

Update Photos and the following text added on 26 May 2013. The river is Sunkoshi. At Khandichaur, just below the Lamosanghu the bridge. Packraft belonged to Peter (last pic below, readying the packraft). It was a brief encounter with waters of Sunkoshi as we were on a trip to Dolakha and Ramechhap. I was in water for less than 10 mins and most of the time I was struggling to maintain control over the raft. Next update: Packrafting in Likhu Khola.

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