the sun, afternoon-tired, angles low across the pine trees. chamlang himal lies lazy and white to the north. thirty-odd crows play together in the heavy air.
they have joined us with their dark intelligence. flirting, wheeling, diving over the steep valley, they return and alight in the straight pines.
crows are shadows come to life. pure black against the branches made more green by their presence. their shape is heavy like dreams. like all that our minds cannot know. bird-shaped holes in this human world, in that which we cling to so tightly.
black is every color combined.
Detail: mahindra bolero, en route to sotang.
the first time i came to the market center of sotang was immediately after the civil war in nepal ended. sotang was used as a remote base for the maoist guerrillas, and it had that strange sadness that comes when great suffering ends - the heavy way in which we can only truly understand, and somehow experience, trauma once it’s over.
the first time i came here, i walked for four days. today i rolled and rocked and bounced into sotang in a truck. clouds of dust and diesel engines growling like some young animals. the market throbbed with hindi hit songs.
i bought a spare iphone charger, and shared tea with old friends. we talked about the old days, how the new road cuts across the graves of those who died in the war.
the fastest way to move forward is to forget.
Winter in kathmandu is like running out of hot water in the shower - bracing, and while ultimately it’s not terrible, it definitely seems like it at the time.
the fog crawls in along the sacred bagmati and around the airport. flights are delayed. we wrap ourselves in sweaters and scarves, which we forget to take off when we crawl into bed.
it’s beautiful and important somehow - these small sufferings. waking up in the dark. coughing up to the valley edge on my mountainbike. sweating in the cold air.
maybe we are all plants somehow - in the cold water and the thin sun, we grow the most.
it’s early morning now, and i’m on a train to the airport. the sun is crawling up over london, grey and serious, plated with gold. the train cab is heavy with our silence and our luggage. we look down at our feet. we wonder if we will make our flights.
i’m having a hard time grasping that only two weeks ago, i was keeping company with giants - weary and entirely alive on the tail end of a month amongst the high, cold, and sacred himalayas.
i thought that maybe more if that place would have stayed with me. changed my skin or my gait somehow. but it hasn’t.
i’m just another commuter today. another man staring at his phone while the sunrise burns outside, ignored.
the only noticeable legacy i can claim is a lingering and occasionally serious cough. in the mornings it still leaves me doubled over, gasping for air. it breaks the silence on the train. people look at me without directly looking. i sound terrible. i’m not embarrassed.
there is some solace in knowing that perhaps a bit of that place is still in me. itching. fighting to be heard. irritating the square life i’m in. shaking it up. keeping me company until i’m once again back and healthy and free. #nepaliloveyou#cough#lookonthebrightside 📷 @climber.abiral
Today’s #givingtuesday ! @dzifoundation is almost halfway to finishing heman and lochan’s school in nepal through our $25,000 @mexicaliblues match - this is an amazing opportunity to give back to nepal. (link in bio for more info & to donate.)
Nepal is an extremely difficult place to describe. nature did something different here - something larger, craggier, more snowy. from such came a deep spirit and smoky quiet, monuments to peace and compassion.
but this alone doesn’t get at it. somehow nepal exists in contrast or even in conflict with the lives we know. the roaring of helicopters and the bright noise and chaos of kathmandu bring these places meaning. the truth is always oblique. the path to the summit is never direct. 📷 @climber.abiral#nepalnow#nepaliloveyou@dzifoundation
Last day in mustang. heart made heavier by the thin air.
this place has whispered to me about the zenith of art and dharma - of human wisdom and beauty. a lotus that blooms in the desert.
now, heading east. into the terraces and the forests. steep and mysterious and the root of my work with @dzifoundation.
For the past few days we’ve traded the internet for the dusty mantras of the high desert, wind through the curtained canyons, the sweet smell of horses.
going to admit that we really didn’t miss it much.
So then we rushed back to kathmandu, tight with stress, for an emergency that wasn’t an emergency after all. or kinda was.
still unquestionably the right thing to do -if just for the few precious hours spent messing up photo shoots at a harry potter birthday party with the best people i know.
back into the thin air today, stay tuned.
it’s difficult to describe how mustang feels. it’s otherworldly - like the best parts of the american southwest sprinkled with the fairy dust of buddhism and nepal’s charming chaos. definitely worth seeing once. sooner than later if you can. @abovethecloudstrav@dzifoundation