By Hem Raj Bastola, Tour Guide | Pokhara, Nepal
A freelance tour leader’s freedom to roam in the mountains, leading trekkers is something really awesome. Describing the landscape, culture, ethnicity, lifestyle, and religion of locals in different parts of the country and etc. is now confined around the territory of the home and surroundings.
It is 62 days of lockdown running here in my country. How much of pathos and suffering people are facing around the world because of the Coronavirus pandemic… how many of them lost their job already how many of them deprived of office duties. Thinking all of this makes me feel heavy. As I, myself, also did not remain untouched from this. I go pensive thinking for the coming days to tackle.
Myself (the right one) with trekkers in the mountain pass
As a daily-wage-based worker depending on the visitors to facilitate the guiding services, as an independent guide not being enrolled with any contract of the companies; I am worried about how to lead the coming days ahead. To survive is not a big issue. I can forage on the farm, eroding nails to grow food. At the same time think of those- growing kid's futures. If they remain uneducated what they will think of my responsibility of a father, being crippled financially to pay their education bills. To raise them as responsible human manpower of the country.
Flowing with all these feelings, now I come to think about the engagement of cellphones. How dearly it used to remain in the pocket. It stopped ringing as it used to sing calling me. Like, you need to do this, are you free for this time… etc. It is so inactive now. Neither has a job to answer the phone. Nor any inquiries to reply to the potential customers. Depressing hours of the days counting are forehand. In this uncertain time, how many times I would have already encircled those trails breathing cold mountain air to get refreshed. The echo of those cliffs still resonates from the trails. Since the last 62 days being engaged in personal farming even, the nostalgia for being peregrine still hurts somewhere; deep inside the heart. Ringing on my ear, a semblance of that silence when I used to walk like a meditating monk. Among the barren highlands to the deciduous forest.
Still, back and forth a thought comes: how long it will last? How the tourism of the country will survive, reviving from this crippled stage. To give the opportunity to the depending seasonal workers on tourism like me and many others. I know a hard time is on the way, coming when everything will be released free from lockdown. How many of the people from villages for the job opportunity living in the cities gone abroad in order to earn the bread… How many of them have already returned to repair their abandoned houses, and hamlets in the hinterlands… People now must have realized- how independent were our ancestors even having a hard life in the hillside villages. The necessary food they used to grow themselves to sustain in the absence of facial money. How real was the life living with the roots like the standing tree! Transporting nutrients from the ground… Depending on those real grains like wheat, millet, and corn.
My diary these days along with my daughter
Nowadays inter-dependency or reliance is more common as the people are getting urban-oriented. Sometimes I think living in the city is living without a sole. Because the real and authenticity are overshadowed by the polished materialism of modern time. Slowly, the value of the rusticism will slowly revive back, I think. When they land in the city will not be sufficient and anxious and monotonous dimly city life will surely generate a hunger for rustic reality. As once in Europe romanticism was carried to soothe their senses. To bring back into the equilibrium: mental peace. Going back to nature and natural stages.
Oh! Yes, the future of rustic tourism has the potential space. Because people are tired of consumerism. An authentic real experience is lacking somewhere. For instance, you may have born in the village and have gone through the real stages of growing working on the farm, chopping grass, milking buffalo or cow, planting corn, rice, millet, etc. and observed or experienced the process of harvesting too. But, since you start becoming a city dweller, your kids born in the urban atmosphere surely deprived of those experiences aforementioned. You may be wishing to give a little taste of it to your city grown kids. From those kinds of interests future or the scope of rustic tourism I can envision easily as a guide.
Introducing Nepalese eating culture during the trek
A short break at the mountain pass
I am sitting on the terrace dike guarding monkeys in order to protect the corn on my farm. My concentration now is knocked by unclear grumbling of the monkeys around. Now I need to stay alert. And rumbling tummy also asking some food. I am curious when will my better half will deliver a dear and delicious food prepared by her own hand. Here to her husband changed post from freelancer guide to a monkey watchman.