Read more about Scott Harper�s trip to Nepal here.

Monday, 16th of September, 2013, 9:20 pm

Today marks one week into my stay in Nepal and its activities are as good as any for updating all of you back in the Western hemisphere. Before recounting today�s adventure, let me hit the other major points from the past week.

It all started with a 36-hour travel period from Austin to Kathmandu, which included a three-hour excursion to see the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque during my layover in Istanbul. Besides commenting that the monuments were breathtaking and the weather excellent, all I�ll say here is that I will have to return some day. Following an hour-and-a-half wait in line for a Nepali visa at the airport, Prashant Jha (Prabhat�s brother) picked me up and brought me to my Nepali base of operations at his home. After four days of adjusting to the time change and some brief visits to a couple of Kathmandu�s historical sights, Prashant accompanied me on the grueling 12-hour night bus journey to the Terai�village of Sisautiya. It was not an experience I enjoyed terribly much, but is one I will probably endure three more times.

Eejot's school house

Anyhow, since then I have also made it through my first three days of village life. Apart from a bout of stomach insubordination, which appears to have settled down today, the major hurdles have been to accept the inevitability of always being dusty and riding out the suppressive mugginess. After a shower you can�t tell when you finish drying water and when you have begun drying sweat.

Today started with the morning computer session, including a lesson about input and output devices, followed by typing practice. Eejot Center is rough around the edges, to say the least, but considering all the odds against it, it is a pretty amazing place for the local students. With six functional laptops, we have the ability to let students spend reasonably useful chunks of time with them. Whether good or bad, however, the rest of today�s story doesn�t involve any computers.

A street scene in a rural village of Bihar, India

A street scene in a rural village of Bihar, India

Following the morning session, Rakesh (the resident computer teacher) invited me to his sister�s house. Enlisting the taxi service of 23-year-old Eejot student Jay Prakash, we three set out south toward a destination that was, to my understanding, near the border with India. Oh, and this is three of us on a motorcycle driving on a road that is a miniature of South Dakota�s Badlands. It actually wasn�t all that bad with three on the bike, and the road felt more undulating than it did in the jolting bus. About 40 minutes into the ride, Rakesh pointed to a stone marker withBharatwritten in Devanagari and said �India.” And without much fanfare, I participated in my first illegal border crossing from Nepal into the Indian state of Bihar. Even if Bihar is one of India�s poorest and most overcrowded states, the poverty of Nepal�s Terai was soon indicated by the appearance of paved roads. A couple more kilometers brought us to our destination.

Rakesh with Jay's son, Michael Jackson

Rakesh with Jay�s son, Michael Jackson

�By the end of the day, I had gained a great deal of practice in the subsequent type of visit, which went something like: greet some strangers with a customary �namaste� and palm-together hand gesture; be invited into said strangers’ house; explain in rough Hindi that my name is Scott and that I am from America; be offered the obligatory chai and biscuits; and finally be left to twiddle my thumbs indefinitely while letting the familiars shoot the breeze to their hearts� content. The pace of life here happens at Indian speed, as steady and placid as the Gangetic tributaries flowing through the landscape.

After the good-byes and the request of one local villager for me to stay, we headed off again further down the road. I asked Rakesh where we were going. Jay needed to buy something.

�Only one hour more,� he said.

�Will we be back for the afternoon computer session?�

�Yes, yes. No problem.�

So on we went, shopping for sandals. After fruitless attempts at several shops, I asked if we were going back to Sisautiya. No, we were going on to stop by Jay�s wife�s family home next. It wasn�t very far.

Thunderstorm at sunset just back across the border

Thunderstorm at sunset just back across the border

By that point, I realized we certainly wouldn�t be back in time for the afternoon lesson. So I accepted the reality of the all-day affair it was sure to be. Three more sets of strangers, ‘Namaste,’ chai and biscuits, and four hours later it seemed like Jay had done enough visiting with local friends and family that we could depart. In the meantime, I met Jay�s two month-old son, Michael Jackson, and we were served the most delicious dinner of chicken and rice curry. In addition to getting an up-close and personal view of Indian village life, that dinner was worth all the waiting.

Finally, we got back on the road, and the subsequent couple of hours was quite fantastic. Jamison Warren, a very inspirational geography teacher of mine, always expressed the joys of seeing India by motorcycle, but up until now I had never understood how that could be any fun with the dust, pollution and unruly traffic. However, riding amongst mature mango groves and sugar cane fields with a fresh breeze and the hazy Indian sunset illuminating a late summer thunderstorm in the east is something I won�t soon forget.



Back in Sisautiya, the day ended with Rahul, a whiz kid of eight who reads an introductory book for computer science in his spare time, presenting me with a blank journal in which to write down everything I know about computers. He had been waiting for the afternoon lesson for four hours.

Follow Scott�s adventures using Google Earth:
Kathamandu to Sisautiya
Accidental Trip to India

New to Google Earth? Review Scott�s primer on downloading and using the app.