I sit on a plastic chair outside the Pokhara bus port and sip black tea. I’ve been here for more than two hours, just waiting. I’ve watched the sun burn off the morning clouds. I’ve watched the vegetable sellers wheel their carts full of eggplant, cucumbers and potatoes down the hill towards the bazaar. I’ve watched children, dressed in school uniforms, sidestep the puddles from last night’s rains on the broken sidewalks. I’ve watched three brothers in a makeshift tent next to the bus port deep fry dough in iron sarans. Prakash shares one with me; they taste like doughnuts.
Mahesh Kaita and Purna Bishwakarma, the two journalists we are to meet in Baglung, expect us to arrive at any moment. If the jeep were to leave this very minute, it would still take us two and a half hours to get there. There’s little chance of that, though, because we only have seven passengers (Prakash likes to say victims) and the jeep won’t leave until all ten seats are filled. We would have phoned to tell Mahesh and Purna about the delay, but the mobile network is down this morning. And so I continue to wait, watching the world from a plastic chair outside the Pokhara bus port.
Prakash had warned us we needed to be here early and we planned accordingly. We packed the night before, awoke at 5:30, bought fruit and some pastries, and walked two miles along Pokhara’s dusty main artery that leads from Baidam (lakeside) to the bus port. As we stepped onto the bus park, though, a jeep passed us with ten bodies packed tightly inside heading for Baglung.
I can’t dwell on this spot of bad luck, but it’s hard to feel the day slip away, especially when we’re here for such a short time. I ask Prakash to see how much it would cost to hire a taxi. The price is a little high and I consider buying the jeep’s last three tickets. I offer half the asking price, but they won’t budge.
Another hour passes and I find myself still sitting on a plastic chair outside the Pohkara bus port. Two more tickets have been sold and I have bought the last one, but two passengers need to collect their luggage at their homes. I watch them walk off towards the bazaar on a street now crowded with activity.
I wish I could say we eventually made it to Baglung, met with Purna and Mahesh, trained them in photography and hiked to a Dalit mountain settlement. This would have been the happy ending to our unfortunate start, but it was not to be. Had we known our five hour wait on plastic chairs at the Pokhara bus port would be followed by encountering a bandha – a blockade of ten microbuses impeding travel along the only road to Baglung protesting the government’s price hike of petrol – we would have surely slept in. But then again, the mobile networks were down, so how were we to know?
Posted By Therkelsen
Posted Jul 10th, 2008