MIDWAY: Hitting the road

The choice is yours. One, a 40-minute luxury cruise through the clouds. The other, a tedious and grimy 12-hour jerky ride. One is tempted to jump at the first option. But I fall for the second. The distance in question is between my home in eastern Nepal and Kathmandu.

The airfare, a tad too expensive for my pockets, added to the tedium of sitting quietly strapped to your seat, explains my bias for a bus ride. I might have traversed the route hundreds of times, but each time brings with it the same joys plus new experiences which pack wonder and entertainment, leaving me lusting for more. An ignored flower here, an abandoned and strange-looking tree there, the puny gorge — all thrill me no end.

Yes, there are things that dissuade you from making a bus journey: horrible food and terrible restrooms, for instance. Certainly no pizzas and burgers on the road. Not all food is bad though. It’s a matter of chance. You might stumble upon food that’s not even served in most of the expensive restaurants in town. Or you might end up fretting over the food you had to eat. But don’t ask about the sanitary conditions. Silence is golden here.

“The road is one of the great fundamental intuitions of mankind,” Hillari Belloc, a British writer and historian, once said. Road access determines the establishment of regional headquarters and land value. The level of development is also directly proportional to road access. Hence, you come across different cultures, dialects and traditions. You might also get a glimpse of the level of development of areas you pass along the highway. Just a peek through the window will do.

With the ongoing talks about the establishment of railway, we surely have much more fun in store. But, if the dream materialises, future generations might never get the privilege of experiencing the many cultures and traditions that remain beyond the purview of most Nepalis.

Nothing beats the joy of a long bus ride. Those who have not done much travelling might have no clue of what I’m talking about. But those who have ventured out to hinterlands via different highways surely realise the charm of a long road travel.