Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winter Mist, Loss in the Himalaya, Summer Plans, A Cambodian New Year's & Gary's Wisconsin Retreat...

it's rather cold out this morning. morning mist so thick there is no horizon or hills beyond the fog. i'm typing away at 7:30 am after josh & ms. leah trundled off to school & while ez & shaks sleep. i hear the sound of tek bahadur outside sweeping the morning leaves off the terrace & dear gita down in the kitchen cleaning up after last night's biryani dinner. as for me, i'm dressed in the same ochre fleece jacket, boxers & socks i wore to sleep last night.

winter in the third world remains a shivering affair. in kathmandu, we don't get the heaps of snow outside the window, the sleety roads or the joys of godly white crystals raining from the sky -- and within an hour here there will be a luscious blue sky over head -- but, the chill factor inside our homes at night-time is the price we pay for a dire lack of government services & modern amenities. of course, after so many years, i'm used to it, i.e. until winter comes and we crowd our space heaters in the evening & snuggle next to each other & our rubber water bottles at night.

if anyone's looking for a good holiday read, i highly recommend, "an inheritance of loss' by kiran desai. for anyone w/ some affection for beloved south asia or simply interested in how the mad rush to globalization affects the lingering, chattering & revolutionary classes, it's a beautiful, funny &, of course, slightly tragic story. as some may know, kiran just won the british booker prize for this novel. shaks & i loved it. although it was lambasted here by a writer who felt that she was too racist toward the nepalis. not exactly my impression (it's a novel, after all...). but then that may say something about the vulnerable state of the nepali identity these days given all the whiplashes of political fate and uncertainty in the country over the past few year years. sometimes we, too, feel like one of kiran's characters whose fate is wrapped up in larger issues & events outside of their control...

it sounds early, but we just used our latent nw (or, as ez says w/ a smile: northworst...) miles for a nearly six week trip to europe & the states next summer (even though i'll have only four weeks of official vacation...). we don't really have any plans, but it seemed wise, if we were going to draw down some of the 400,000 miles that i'd accumulated over the years, to book early -- so absolutely unlike us!! ;-) the boys are already scheming to dump us for the ten days in europe so that ez can run around copenhagen w/ his buddy, oliver, while josh may join lisa, his german girlfriend, in deutschland or flee together to spain. i had hoped to go together for a short walk in the swiss alps, but the teenagers are looking past their parents already, alas. then, a month looking at colleges in america, maybe a week in the adirondacks, time w/ family and, no doubt, a strong urge to get home to our own beds & lives toward the end of that time...

more closer to the horizon, over new year's, we are off to scott's new riverine home south of phnom penh. he's so excited by this latest wonder in his life and, it seems, to have been a joyous salve for the passing of his two biggest daughters from the home and the compounded rigors of a life in the un system. the last two thanksgivings, my amherst friend & best man had come up here to enjoy a bit of autumn while spending a week w/ us in kathmandu, so i'm glad to return the friendship and get away from the winter cold. we usually have gone to thailand, but i'm off there these days, w/ too much commericialism and the after-affects of the tsunami still in my short-term memories. a quiet week on a river in cambodia, reading, swimming, chatting sounds best.

i was, curiously, last night thinking, too, of my friend gary's lakeside home in wisconsin. shaks, leah, ez & i were watching the movie, 'notebook', and there are lovely scenes of the main character in his small white boat out on his alabama lake. for some reason, i thought of gary & his w/end retreat and how fortunate he must be to have a place of quiet & solitude.

sometimes, i think i'm getting ready to retreat from the world... is that ever possible?

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