Just like Birganj, my flight from Kathmandu to Birganj was packed with characters.
First of all, I had been away from the ‘Ganj for nearly six weeks. I remember when Rob had been gone from Birganj for nearly two months people starting appearing every where to ask me,
Where is Rob? Where is Rob?
Some suffered from Rob-withdrawal, as I had more than a couple people assume that I was Rob (as if in some magical way I had become him). I never understood that.
To my right on the plane sat a man who occasionally glanced over at me, giggling like an adolescent girl. I’d glance over my newspaper and catch him staring at me followed by,
Hee hee hee hee haaawww, with a slight snort at the end. I didn’t understand that either.
As we began our ascent over the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley, the sky turned dark and the ride got bumpy. Directly in front of me sat a woman, perhaps 35, who was clutching her husbands hand to her chest while she rocked back and forth in her seat in the cramped Twin Otter.
Her husband sat to her left across the isle and spoke on his cell phone for the duration of the flight. The flight attendant didn’t seem to mind and nor did anyone else notice. I read my paper.
As we climbed over the hills and into the dark clouds, the ride got bumpier. While flights in Nepal can be scary, this was not one of them. But the woman in front of me wasn’t in any mood for any of this until finally she began screaming.
She screamed the scream of someone who is about to die a painful death and is aware of it. I lifted my paper to protect myself from a sudden fit of vomiting, a reflex I developed riding the buses, but she was too busy screaming.
Finally the man next to me had something else to cackle about and he did so unabashedly. The man laughing next to me at the woman screaming at her imminent death while her daughter (an unexpected wild card) painted the row with vomit—I don’t understand any of these things.
The major surprise in Birganj was the return of the fair, the ramilo mela. Last year’s attraction was a Ferris wheel that Rob and I braved.
This year’s attraction was a giant inverted cone constructed out of cane and bamboo. A couple motorcycles and then a couple cars drove around in circles inside the cone, narrowly avoiding head-on collisions. Well, except for today.
Apparently, or so the witness told me, the professional drivers from Bihar had asked for a pay increase. The managers of the fair simply fired them and hired locals in Birganj to replace them.
The drivers were local bus drivers that the managers had hired the day before they were put on stage to perform. They were dead now, and the show had to go on. In fact, tomorrow’s is at 7 p.m.—if they can find some new drivers. I’m planning on going.
This is my first day in Birganj in six weeks. I’m home.
I guess what I want to say is that I decided some things while I was in the United States. I spent time with my family, which was great, and I got to see some friends. I had a cold beer in my old bar.
I ate Tex-Mex at every meal for a week. Most importantly, what I want to do after Peace Corps was revealed to me. I decided a few things, like that I want to teach at an inner-city school, maybe with Teach for America.
When I walked into the Loophole, the bar where I used to tend in college, I had no idea what I was going to do after Peace Corps in nine months. Before I’d gotten three feet into the bar I was cheered by friends who I had thought would have long forgotten me.
I sat down with Dylan and Chris, two previous employees at the Loophole who had given up the service industry to teach at inner-city schools in Dallas. I left the bar knowing exactly what I wanted to do.
I realized this, I realized that, and all of this could change. I’m not satisfied, because I’m envisioning my future, just because I have something to work towards.
It’s a great feeling knowing that tomorrow at the fair if the bamboo breaks and a Mahendra hatchback flies out of the arena and smears my brains across the dirty of streets of Birganj, I’ll die knowing that there would have been a lot more adventures to look forward to.
Well, maybe I’ll skip the show.