May 22, 2002
Double fisting - beer in one hand, cigarette in the other. There's a Nepali band slamming out a good rendition of Jimi Hendrix. This is work. *grin*
Pokhara is a bit of a ghost town. It is off season and there is a war on. Well it's not quite a ghost town, all the Pokharians are still about. The adults look mostly terribly bored, and make half an attempt to drag you into their shops whenever you walk by. The kids, as kids always do, are having a great time playing in the streets. But, the town is empty of tourists. There are more hotels here than tourists. There isn't much to do in Pokhara in the off season. I could climb the hill with the great view of the Annapurna range, but every day the view has been blocked by clouds. I could take a boat out on the lake and go fishing, but the other tourists I've seen fishing always come back without fish. I'm considering going golfing, but I haven't yet convinced another tourist to join me. So, I'm spending my days reading and spending my nights drinking.
For the moment, "Pack Light" has become do as I say, not as I do. Books are usually expensive and precious commodity for the backpacker. There was a book sale in Kathmandu, and I went a little nuts. I walked out with a dozen paperbacks. Not exactly the best way to travel light.
Guidebooks tell you to pack your bag, put it on and take a walk for a hour to check if your bag is too heavy. I've refined this technique - Take your bag in one hand. If you can throw it easily it is the right weight. It's much quicker. It better simulates backpacking. Often you drag your pack on and off of busses, only rarely will you carry it for long distances. And finally, there is a bonus check. Anything that breaks when you throw your bag the first time wasn't durable enough to survive the rigors of backpacking. Even with all the paperback, I still (barely) pass the "bag toss test". There is almost nothing else in my pack.
I've developed the habit of when reading books, bending back the corner of pages where I find passages that are particularly insightful, interesting or entertaining. Many books have no pages marked. "Hells Angel", autobiography of Sunny Barger had 3 pages marked. Did you know that in 1958 the Oakland Hell's Angels had a rule against swearing in their meetings? "On Writing", autobiography and writing guide by Steven King had a record 17 pages marked.
One of King's theses in his book is that to be a good writer you need to read a lot. Twelve books filling my bag - I'm on the right track with that. King tells us that every aspiring writer should have a moment where he is reading and says to himself "I'll never be able to write that good." I had that moment on the slow boat through Lao and amazingly wrote about it in almost exactly the same words. As for drugs "The idea that creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are intertwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of out time." On the other hand, it apparently doesn't hurt. Steven King was out of his mind on coke and beer while writing most of his books.
"You must not come lightly to the blank page." I love this quote. I am capable of better writing and need to start doing it. It amazes me that people were able to write books before there were computers. I lack the concentration to even edit a one page journal entry on paper. And so... I'm going technology shopping. Does anyone have any recommendations for small, light, durable, affordable laptops or handhelds? Any suggestions for transferring the data to cybercafes (hop on their LAN, bring along a floppy drive)?
Steven King also tells us "... rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects." This seems to suit me well, but it serves as a good reminder. I am not an alcoholic and I don't believe in a higher power. I think it's about time for me to find an AA meeting and write about it.
It feels as if recently I've done more writing about writing than writing about writing. Next stop: Bardia National Park. Between Maoist rebels patrolling the countryside and charging rhinos patrolling the park, I should hopefully have some good stories to tell in my next journal entry.