The Nepal Chronicles

The Nepal Chronicles is a sometimes hilarious/sometimes moving, always entertaining recount of the journey of Joe Devoy  and family deep into Nepal, venturing where few normals dare to go.  Joe is the owner of Tellus360, an Irish pub, music venue, and community hub in Lancaster, PA, USA.
 
Introduction

Every night as I go to bed I rub my Buddhas bellys.  Seven different big glorious bellys and hearty smiles.  A collection I have collected for years never really knowing why, never really understanding the draw.

Nonetheless there is something tremendously soothing to me in rubbing their bellys.  It always brings a huge smile to my face and a feeling of calm.   So as my belly has grown to meet theirs I am thankful for their presence in my life. 

Carried with my Buddha fascination is a Nepal fascination and when the opportunity came to go visit my friend Brooke over there I jumped all over it, packed up the two lads, persuaded my sister to join us and took off .

This is the story of what was the greatest trip of my life.  It has taken me a year and a half to finally sit down to write it and it is made up of a mix of writings, notes, poetry and memories from a trip that has changed my life and my beliefs.

Chapter One

Last flight and all are asleep but I.  Woken by food, hardly surprising.  Flying from Mumbai to Kathmandu, the plane is 90% male and 90% Nepali.  Immigrants returning home for the festival, to see wives and daughters, to teach fast growing sons. 

All the inhabitants of the plane are wearing the hollow eyes of weary travellers.  Funny though as we get closer a nervous chatter has began to erupt through the plane.  Familiar and identical to those first trips I made to Ireland after leaving in the 80’s.  An inner energy bursting out, home, hearts home just around the corner. 

I feel an odd camaraderie with my ship mates, all of us the same all of us searching for our hearts home.  The Himalaya’s rising out our window reaching to the sky.  Snow covered and pure.  Each one bigger than the next.  Each one just a top floating in the horizon.  We turn towards them, banking to our left.  My heart is beating faster, pumping with excitement, nervous going home excitement! 

Lost for words I will leave you and lose myself in the godlike Himalayians.  To these men I wish safe travels and a triumphant return to their hearts home.  Our stories of immigration forever connected.

 himalayas

Chapter Two

Landed, a brilliant flight in, mountains and rice fields, dirt roads and motorbikes.  Through immigration, visa bought and I am officially of the cast of Joseph.  Six suitcases, 3 backpacks later we are rolling across the parking lot like true yanks.  There to meet us amongst the thousands of drivers and porters are our two fine men. 

Namaste and holy that’s a lot of bags!  We throw the first behemoth bag in and as it clatters to the floor of the van a cloud of dust bigger than Hiroshima forms and rises.  All loaded up and our 1960 Toyota fired up on the third try it is time. 

Driving in Nepal or in this case being a front seat passenger in Kathmandu is a bit like being a character in a Kurt Vonegut novel while taking acid at the same time.  Insane, nuts, certifiable and crazy all in one.  We bounce our way out of the airport and towards the city. We stop at the only traffic light in a city of 3 million and wait our turn. 

There are 28 million people  in Nepal and 26.5 million of them are on a motorbike beside us going to Patan Square!  The other 1.5 million are all on the back of the same Suzuki 125 going the same way.  We land in the parking spot like a jumbo 147 parking in a matchbox, we grab our six cases and 3 backpacks and start carrying after our smiling driver.  To my shock and horror, I am ran over by 3 cars, 6 motorbikes, 50 bicycles, 17 people, 4 dogs and a chicken on the way to the room. 

We meet Prim, our Swedish Landlord with a Nepali name.  He proceeds to give us a house tour.  Ceilings 5’ tall speak of a previous history and time.  Aidan slaps his head 4 times in four minutes like he is following his own personal Mandela.  Each is greated by a loud calling, his sound of meditation and a big belly laugh his sound of enlightenment! 

We place our bags in the rooms and see coming through the door our Nepali guide from Silver Spring, Brooke Laura.  We are instantly happy at seeing Brooke, who without we probably would not have made it to Nepal.  We talk and catch up and then head into the city. 

We walk to Dobar Square and doing so it starts to reinforce the gentle and beautiful rhytyms of the city.  Sitting in the square at the top of a temple looking at the local lads sing songs session style we have smiles plastered on our faces.  Kathmandu and Nepal are already stealing our hearts. 

I wrote a poem starting in Mumbai airport and finished on the plane into Kathmandu.  

Faces all raised and looking

Watching TV through hollow eyes

Returning home from years away

Tired, spent and empty

 

Nike shoes and socks

Commercial world taken over

Well spent well used

Last leg still ahead.

 

Blue sky white horizon

Banking right to ride the ridge

Spirits up and life back

Nervous chatter of an immigrants return

 

All men all different

Some to visit some to stay

Carrying with them life’s story

Outcome predetermined yet uncertain

 

Chapter Three

 Day 4ish and Monkey for breakfast! 

Twelve hours sleep, bed by seven, jet lag gone.  We head to the roof for breakfast.  Sitting on the roof we look out on the Gold temple and watch our Bhuddist friends and neighbors say their prayers.  You can almost touch our excitement, our first full day in Kathmandu.  We were woke by a dove hooting like an owl on the back side of our window. 

Sitting together eating museli, toast and something that looks like a cornflake but sure as hell does not taste like one.  Mary’s eyes widen, a shout comes up, monkey!  Monkey! Monkey! And all of us turn and stare with our jaws touching the floor.  A monkey saunters across the roof beside us giving us the eye. 

Our Nepali friends laughing at our amazement.  Prim hears our story and starts to tell us of the monkey temple in Swineboo.  Eoin and Aidan light up, taking our rooftop monkey to be a sign.  We walk to the square and hail a taxi. 

So in its own beet box sort of way we bob and weave through motorbikes and people.  We duck and dive around three wheel buses and five wheel tractors.  We beep beep beep to gently warn the young Buddhist monks that we are coming behind them. 

In the craziness there is a gentle rhythm, in the horns there is a softness.  They bounce off your ears as “hello my friend I am behind you and I wish you well.  We are pulling out in front of a thousand of you cars and motorbikes and we mean you no harm.  We thank you for welcoming us.” 

We pass the butcher shop with the dead plucked chickens, throats cut and staring at us.  We start to climb a hill, disappearing into a pothole that is wider than the road.  On our left an army barracks which seems odd because the city seems so peaceful.  On up and up we go, glimpses of the holy city. 

Arriving we are greeted by monkeys and monkeys and monkeys and monkeys.  All seemingly enjoying the attention we are pouring on them.  We walk up, we walk down and everywhere we go monkeys surround us. 

We climb the steps to the temple and as we walk around we are greeted by a new friend.  He regales us with history and stories.  He tells us of the Holy man Mantras, the 16th century drought, the coming rains.  He shows us healing books and chakras; he plays the drums on my head.  He vibrates a bowl along my back and he tells me of healing. 

We travel on and sit with a Buddhist Monk, our friend introducing us and sitting in.  We start with Buddha’s life, story and progress to the Mandelas of life.  Moving in circles from the outside in, watching the stairs of life till we find our soul. 

Bowl bought, mantra spoken, Namaste exchanged and Dhanybad’s given we walk on following the sign of the monkey in search of our soul.  Returning to Patan we walk the markets, checked the shops and stop in the music store.  The proprietor regales us with stories of how he is the fourth generation of drum makers.  We play drums, mandolins, fiddles that weren’t fiddles and we blow horns that would have fit in the sound of music. 

Mary walked away with the storeowners newest invention.  A Nepali diggery do that made the beautiful sounds of the ocean as you turn it upside down.  Waves breaking over an Irish beach, rolling over sea washed stones. 

A remarkable thing happened returning to our house carrying this 6’ tall diggery do that plays the sounds of the ocean.  We were met with genuine stares of what the hell are they carrying. 

As we entered Dohar Square we were met with the incredible inquisitness of a beautiful people.  Every stall owner approached together.  We played the sounds of the ocean for them.  They took it and they played it.  A deep discussion followed as to how our music maker was created.  Such a wonderful instrument, was it funneled inside, did he mix rice, metal and stone, how does it flow so smoothly?  What was truly amazing from this conversation was that we were no longer tourists, we were the same, humans with a Nepali Diggery Do, our ideas equal, our thoughts welcome. 

The day ended sitting on a cushion raised high in the air sharing food, and thoughts, and religion, and nature, and nurture, talking and listening, learning and expressing, laughing and embracing.  4 hours of incredible food and all the things that make us human, all the things that makes life worth living. 

As we sat there the city closed.  We walked to find a taxi, all lights off, all people sleeping and the city now a city of dogs.  The dogs of Kathmandu seem to sleep all day and run at night, resembling college kids.  They also are in complete harmony with the city.  They live side by side with the people, wild in that they do not have masters but tame in their existence.  No chasing cars, no barking at passersby’s, just calm till night when they run, the city emptied of people and theirs to rule. 

Kathmandu and its people have opened its arms to us, pulled us close, hugged us tight, we have been instantly relaxed into its gentle rhythms and easy ways. I go to bed playing a gentle beep beepedy beep lullaby in my head.

 

Chapter Four 

Poem written in Pokara at the World Peace Stupa 

High on a hill top looking at the Himilaya’s as the sun sets. 

As the light goes down on my words

Turning the ink from black to red and red to orange

Clouds covered in hues of pink

Gently flowing through the gaps in the rail

Staining the pure white granite in brilliant lines of light

I follow the perfectly rounded top and

Throw my eyes down the stair

Eyes mesmerized by the burning tree

I see my words blowing gently on the prayer flags

Dancing in the setting sun moving to a sacred beat

Carrying with them peace, love, hope and wonder

And scattering happily all around the world and here

 

Chapter Five

Sleep Demons 

Bed early last night and up early this morning.  All of us having a hard time staying up resulting in a tough time sleeping in the mornings.  My wake up call came from Eoin this morning. 

I lay restless and distracted for an hour fighting the demons of my sleep.  There turn to win I finally struggled out, felt the great relief of a morning trip to the bathroom, pulled on some dirty clothes and travelled dead north to Kathmandu’s second city. The city of roofs.  Walking into a Swedish guest on the way I realized as I said Namaste that good morning did not take long to get replaced. 

Onto the roof greeted by the bells of the golden temple and the dance of the other roof dwellers.  There is the tooth brusher, vigorously doing his daily brushing, moving to the rhythm of the prayer.  The husband and wife feeding pidgeons, throwing the food to the metal roof, it landing with the rat tat tat of a machine gun.  The pigeons waiting at the start line all scuttle across the starting line like they have heard the starters gun. 

There is the lady in full dress washing her hands, the man drying his face with the white towel in what appears to be a simple meditation.  There are the Buddhist prayer flags sending their prayers to the almost non existent breath of fresh wind and the Buddhist flag flying proudly from many houses. 

And on the roof beside me a young lady painting.  A portrait of her grandmother, who sits gently brushing her other granddaughters hair.  One stroke at a time of both artist and brusher.  A simple, gentle start, love oozing from all three faces. 

Although thriving with life up here, it is gentle life, no angry voices, no dance music or heavy metal, no angst or thought, just the gentle stretch of a city pulling itself out of bed, the shaking of the sleep demons, pigeons, cats, monkeys and people.  Prayers, teeth brushing, bird feeding and bell ringing.  Clothes lines, solar panels, water towers and flat roofs.

 

Chapter 6

 After buying duck eggs at the outdoor market, paint on the street and paper in the sidewalk store we headed for Brooke and Paul’s.  Jumping in a taxi we ask for Bisipati Choke.  We went back and forth 10 times, me talking louder every time as that will make my Irish Nepali accent so much more understandable.  The conversation went like so: 

Nepali Joe Bisipati Choke?

Nepali driver No words just a look like I was speaking Martian

Nepali Joe (louder) Bisipati Choke

Nepali driver Still no words

Nepali Joe (Roaring now) Bisipati Choke! Bisipati Choke! Bisipati Choke!  (As if saying it 3 times in rapid fire succession would make it all the more understandable.

Nepali driver Nods like he understands and says “1400 rupees”

Nepali Joe Not sure driver understands but figuring we will give it a go anyway I say – 1200 rupees

Nepali Driver Nods his approval 

All of us pile in, smiles all around and we laugh at our newfound communication skills. 

So as the driver takes off, driving through the crowed streets of Kathmandu, avoiding tractor size potholes, missing families of 10 by the length of a cats whisker a thought creeps into my head. 

What if he didn’t understand me, what if his Bisipati Choke is different to mine.  We have no phone, no language, no clue where we are going and we are in a car with a lad who we cannot communicate with.  When Brooke was explaining it the night before it seemed like the most natural thing ever.  Grab a taxi to Bisipati Choke and just give a call when you get there and we will come down and grab you. 

Forgotten were the language barrier and the fact we don’t own a phone.  Ah well we are on our way now so I may as well sit back and enjoy the hair raising ride.  Up and down some massive hills we arrive a good 20 minutes later in the Choke.  Choke is the Nepali word for crossroads and meet me at the crossroads seems so very Irish. 

So in my best worst Nepali Irish accent I ask the driver if I could use his phone: 

Nepali Joe Can I use your phone?  (I’m a little embarrassed doing this but the fact that I am in the middle of no where, not sure if I am in the right or wrong place, in a foreign country that I don’t speak the language helps me get over my embarrassment)

Nepali driver hishhd uhiwg  howhww hodwoho (bunch of Nepali)

Nepali Joe Can I use your phone (louder and pointing)

Nepali driver hishgf ugsgd gaihdadh oahdohd

Nepali Joe Phone phone phone 

So the Nepali driver jumped out of the car and walks away into a store.  The three lads take a look at me and the look says “Ah no what have you done now?” 

Not sure what to do we sit tight in the hope that he returns and that there are no police or army with him to throw us out of the car.  Our driver returns 10 minutes later and we realize through sign language that his phone had ran out of credit and he had to go into top it up. 

Now amazed and incredibly grateful that he would do this for 4 random strangers I say “Namaste” and hear Aidan lauging in the back.  I know two nepali words Namaste and dhan’yavāda.  One means hello and good bye and the other thank you.  However for me they have become interchangeable and Namaste gets used in the wrong context always.  Aidan of course loves seeing his father make a fool of himself and especially loves pointing the fact out. 

So I call Brooke and there is no response.   Try again and still no response and again and again.  Oh no what do we do now.  We can’t keep this lad any longer, he has already spent what feels like 2 days with us.  One more try and we finally get Brooke, “we are here”.  Big thank yous, pay our bill with a good tip which does not go close to expressing our gratitude for all his help. 

We get out of the car, still hopeful we are at the right crossroad and find a spot to sit that isn’t to conspicuous for 4 westerners in a village of all natives.  What is nice is no one seems to care.  We get a few looks and smiles and everyone goes on about their business and although we feel a little out of place, nobody there seems to think there is anything strange in having us hang around. 

So as we wait for Brooke and Paul to come grab us we sit on this stone table.  Some young lads come up and gesture to move us.  We had turned their table tennis table into a bench. 

Happy to move we watch as six local lads play winner stays on the table.  One point and who ever wins stays on the table who ever loses gives up his paddle to the next in line.  The ages ranged from 6 to 16 and as we started to watch we realized quickly that first they were having a fantastic time and secondly they had complete and total respect for each other. 

No parents in site, the oldest looked out for the youngest.  They ribbed each other but it was always good natured, no tension, always loving always caring for each other. 

Brooke came and got us and brought us up to their house.

 

Chapter Running with Bhudda 

Eoin and I decided to go for a run, sadly lacking exercise since our arrival the time had come.  Directions given by Paul: 

Go around the yellow house and make a left, up the hill and make a right, through the crossroads, first left after that, followed by straight through at the big tree.

I don’t think I have got quality directions like this since I left Ireland as a young fellow. 

So we ran remembering quickly that this is Nepal and therefore incredibly hilly.  How I managed to forget this I am not sure but the confident long distance runner that left the driveway was quickly replaced by a voice in my head that repeated what were you thinking, what were you thinking, what were you thinking. 

Topping the hill at the big tree we rolled over the other side gasping for breath and our eyes gasping to take it all in.  Ahead stood a beautiful valley of rice fields, heaving with people.  Down the hill we went recovering every stride, left asphalt and joined dirt and stone.  We were welcomed by interested looks and Namaste. 

Harvest time and today was Saturday.  A day off school and work, the fields full with families.  All working and all laughing together.  It brought me back to the days of bringing in the hay on a friends farm in Ireland.  Starting early, working late, everyone there.  Multiple stops for tea and sandwiches, a break for dinner.  Riding on top of a load of bales on the way back to the shed, holding the ropes as the tractor pulled you like an Olympic water skier on the return trip. 

Tired but happy at the end of the day, part of something bigger, us like our new Nepali friends drinking water from Coke Cola bottles.

We ran on, bouncing on the rocks, bobbing in the tire ruts, sliding to the side for the beep of the motorbikes.  We wound our way around the valley deciding on 10 more minutes out and we would turn around.  Up Heartbreak Hill and to what looked like a Buddhist temple and a soccer match in progress. 

So to set the scene we are on the side of a mountain, one flatish field, grass to our knees, our back drop being an old Buddhist temple 30 yards away.  There are six to seven young lads, between 12 and 14, playing soccer with a flattish well-worn football.  

We got questioned on where we are from.  A bit of back and forth in broken English and Nepali.  Ireland and America and a response of yeah. Finally a pass got kicked our way.  Controlling it well we passed the test and got invited to join the game. 

My job to provide the supply of crosses for the big men to head to the net.  Normally not to difficult but considering we were on the side of a mountain with grass up to my knees I found it slightly more challenging. 

We banged in a few good crosses; some on the ground and some snuffed out by the goalie with his cat life reflexes.  Finally we hit the big man and with a big leap to the air he struck a glancing header to the bottom left corner evading the outstretched hand of the great goalie. 

The crowd went crazy or at least all seven of us playing soccer did.  We started running around like airplanes, followed by high fives all around.  We slid to our knees, hands in the air, a celebration that would rival any world cup victory.  Celebration over we exchanged our names, hands to heart we exchanged our good byes, smiles to eyes we left on our run, glancing over our shoulder often not wanting to leave our new friends. 

Back through the valley, up the big hill (walked here, some of the greatest walks I have ever been on have started out as runs) Passing the rice fields, Namaste being shouted from the hilltops from excited children seeing a strange sight. 

Tired and happy, heart opened wider than it had ever been before we returned to Brookes for a cookout! 

The bus of hope!  Always room for one more! 

Up early, bags packed, farewell to Kathmandu and hello Archale.  We took a van from our guest house to the bus station.  We were greeted by thousands of people.  Buying tickets, selling food and water, going home, leaving the big smoke for the country and home for Tihar festival.  We were there early and thankfully Brooke came with us, we got our tickets and stood back and took it all in.  Like M&T Bank Stadium for a Ravens game, people everywhere, going everywhere. 

Bus arrived, assigned seating and we all piled on.  The bus was not built for big yanks like myself and after we squeezed both knees in like a sardine to a can and we were off.  We went up a road that no bus should be allowed up.  We slowly climbed out of the city picking people as we went. 

We were passing restaurants, people, water buffalo, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, cows and school kids.  From 2 to 16, each in uniform and each trudging up or down the road off to school.  There were no adults, no hassle, some in groups and some on their own. 

Now our bus was probably made to carry forty people at a stretch and we were currently running around sixty.  Every stop we made we added, children would be thrown through the window, passed up the bus, pulled in by a lady and made feel comfortable.  If a baby started crying a random women or man would grab her and rock her back to sleep. 

Although no one knew any one, every one knew every one.  It was like a big community outing, old friends and new friends bouncing and bobbing up the hill.  No families just one big family, laughing and crying and comforting and loving each other. 

Our bus playing chicken with the buses coming against us.  Both drivers staring at each other straight faced, not giving an inch.  Both conductors hanging out the door shouting and gesturing to reverse, reverse, get out of the way.  This went on for five or ten minutes at a time.  Shouting and roaring by the conductors, dead face I could kill you by the driver.  Finally one would reverse and all four would break into laughter.  Roaring laughing, the whole bus, it was all a game. 

Round the corner , smog gone and staring us in the face are the majestic Himalaya’s.  Almost not real, peaks so incredibly high that they belong to the sky not the earth.  Floating above us like gods home,  all gods both yours and mine.  Their snowcapped peaks calling out to me, to my heart, lifting me up from this life. 

The bus stops in xxxxxxx and we grab food.  It stops in Tricily for an hour and we talk.  We embark on the last leg, crawing up the banks of the Trishuli towards Santi Baazar.  We are five or six hours on the bus at this stage and there is still great camaraderie.  We are probably a hundred strong, seventy in the bus and thirty on the roof.  No tension, all friendly, people swapping seats with those less fortunate, babies laughing, kids smiling, adults talking, young and old in perfect harmony. 

Following the banks of the raging Trishuli it leaves you wondering what the river looks like during the Monsoon.  We land in Santi Baazar and are greeted by Sudan.  Principal of Shining Star academy and our friend.   

After hitting the bathroom and a few measured barbs from Sudan to the people of Santi Baazar we start the trek to Archale.  They show us the steps up the back of the village and politely tell us they will take us the easier way.  We walk together in good nature. 

Sudan shows us the mill along the way.  We exchange Namastes with all as we go and especially the kids.  The sight of Westerners with the combination of my beard is enough to send them into delirium. 

As we arrive in Archale, looking for our breath, school is still going.  We round the corner as the kids are waiting for dismissal.  They do a few jumping jacks, sing a few songs, all the time stealing glances over their shoulders at us.  Routine finished they come towards us a flower of welcome each.  One after another they came, giggling, laughing and smiling from ear to ear.  Giving us flowers and taking our hearts. 

Our stay in Archale was with two of the families that live in the village.  Mary and Aidan went to and Eoin and I got to stay with.  Mom and Dads English not very good and my Nepali non existent we talked through our new translator Birag.  A grade 3 student in shining star and all around legend.  We all fell into an instant friendship doing his homework.  He is brilliantly smart, going to be a doctor when he grows up and is going to take care of the people of his community when he grows up. 

Dinner was the traditional Nepal dal dish.  It consists of enough rice to feed a small country, a lentil soup and a curried vegetable.  All foods that I like in quantities that would not make Man Versus Food throw up.  Add to this it is disrespectful  if you do not finish completely and you got the picture. 

No silverware just the hands you were born with or in this case the hand you were born with because for reasons I will explain later you can only use your right hand.  You start by pouring the Dal over the rice, mix it with your hand and begin shoveling.  This resembles eating floury mashed potatoes in Ireland. 

All the dal mixed in and the lady of the house asks if I want more Dal.  Stupidly I say yes I will have a little and out she comes with the equivalent of a big saucepan.  Now remember none can be left over as this would be insulting.  Digging inlike a bulldozer, thought process the quicker I get at it the quicker I get done, I shovel more in. 

To wash this down I had a refreshing glass of warm lumpy water buffalo milk.  Picture the barfing scene from Stand By Me and you will be in the exact same place I was as I tried to gulp the warm, multicolored and lumpy milk. 

Rice finished and my soupy Dal still on the plate and my beautiful host comes again.  “You like more rice?”  I like a sadomasochist hear the words coming out of my mouth before they come.  Yes, yes I will have a small bit.  I have ate enough that shared out could have ended world hunger and I say yes. 

Out comes a pot the size of my head and she proceeds to three huge scoops on my plate.  She follows this with two more servings of curried vegetables and my heart, stomach and ass sunk deeper into the chair. 

Up to the task and afraid to offend the nicest people in the world I bear down on the rice.  Bite after bite with my hosts sitting directly across watching with huge smiles on their face.  (I found out after that they won’t eat their own dinner till their guest is finished theirs.  So on top of watching they were probably starving) 

Finally I crossed the finish line, 10 seconds before my stomach exploded and sent millions of pieces of rice all over the world like a blizzard in the North Pole.  My beautiful host declares “I am happy” and it was all worthwhile, the lumpy milk, the field of rice, the curried vegetables, it was all worth it because I too was happy.  I have never ever felt more welcome or accepted into a home. 

Following homework and math problems we go to watch TV with the family.  Best described as watching Benny Hill with clothes on, we headed off bed tired after another long wonderful day.

 

Chapter something:

 There is no good time to tell this next story but I feel in an effort to be honest in my reporting and true to my audience (I am hopeful at least one person is reading this and that in my mind constitutes an audience).  It is a story that deserves to be told if for no other reason than to warn prospective travellers of what lies ahead. 

If you are squeamish stop reading now!!!!!!!  Move on a section, move back a section, move somewhere but stop reading. 

Going to the toilet and specifically going number 2 in Nepal is quite an experience.  First I am going to lay out the main points and then I will develop on them from there.  Sorry if this looks like a business plan but going #2 in Nepal is a serious business. 

  1. The toilet is a hole in the floor.
  2. It is located in the middle of the room.
  3. There is NO toilet paper.
    1. Again there is NO toilet paper.
    2. NO toilet paper.
  4. There is a tap.
  5. There is a bucket.
  6. There is a jug.
  7. Otherwise the room is completely empty.

I had been warned about this experience previously but no warning prepares you for this.  So as I throw my two cents in I apologize in advance for its inadequacy. 

OK I am past the point of no return.  I have held as long as I possibly can, I have eaten rice, curry and lentils like my life depended on it .  It has become a case of Crouching Tiger exploding stomach, Hidden Dragon exploding __________ well I will let you fill in the rest. 

Pants to my ankles and just about hanging on and I happen upon my first predicament.  How do I get my butt back far enough that I don’t ruin my pants and boots with pee and poop.  I go hunch back, like a yogi, concentrating on holding my stomach.  I gracefully keep going backwards, ass heading for the hole in the ground. 

Mind picturing me stuck, butt in hole in the floor, legs, hands and head in the air like  Humpty Dumpty.  Last second I get my hand down for the save of my life. 

Back to a semi standing, squatting position.  I wrack my head for a solution.  I dig deep to my problem solving school days.  If a train leaves Dublin at 9am travelling to Waterford at 35 miles per hour and a train leaves Waterford at 10 am travelling to Dublin at 60 mph (because we are much quicker in Waterford).  What time would they meet? 

So if I lean at this angle to the left wall put my head at a 110* angle to the right wall.  Put my right hand at an inverse angle to Newton’s laws of Physics, kick my butt back, my head left, belly up and feet at backwards ballet dancer pose, remember E=MC2 and slow my breathing down, I can do this! 

I should have never taken down my pants as the need now is beyond pressing it is pushing.  Effort #2.5 is underway, contorted like an Olympic Twister contestant from Ireland, green in the face, white in the belly and well you know……….  I reach for the back wall with my hand, squat low and just go for it.  Green coming out of my face, relief seeping through my body like ice cold beer pouring down my throat on a scorching day in the desert. 

I have achieved success; 5 minutes later I finally start to feel empty and tremendously satisfied.  Still though there is something niggling in the back of my head.  I leave it go and revel in my new found problem solving brilliance, enjoying the mild aching that I am feeling in my legs.  Whatever that niggling is it can wait!

Niggling worry sitting in stomach and I am starting to feel a little anxious.  Nothing terrible, tighs and back starting to ache a little more from holding the pose. 

My mind goes to the portrait painter capturing the beautiful moment, niggling thought, niggling thought.  I feel flipping great, days of relief in a few minutes, niggling thought, niggling thought. 

Niggling thought, niggling thought, niggling thought, gentle ache becoming more burning ache.  Niggling thought, niggling thought , burning thighs, burning thighs followed by Einsteins eureka moment. 

Niggling thought, niggling thought, burning tighs, burning tighs, dirty ass, dirty ass, no toilet paper, no toilet paper!  Niggling thought, niggling thought, burning tighs, burning tighs, dirty ass, dirty ass, no toilet paper, no toilet paper! 

A roar heard back in Lancaster “No Toilet paper!!!!!!!! Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

So I have a bucket of water, a jug in the bucket, no toilet paper and a 5 minute old dirty ass.  I had been warned but no warning prepares you for the reality, pants around the ankles, the great incredible freeing relief of relieving one self followed by the holy excrement moment of sitting in a pitch-black room realizing that you are now paperless with two burning tighs that might just let go any second and send you spiraling into a black hole of cosmic significance. 

A time for action not reason, I threw water at my butt with the jug, splash, splash splash, getting pretty much everything wet and nothing clean.  Ass getting closer to the hole with every sink, hand failing with every reach for the bucket, tighs ready to crumble into pieces under the weight they are carrying. 

Try the jug again and realizing in a burst of pain and enlightenment that there is a reason that Nepali people only use their right hand to eat their food.  Ah no, Ah no, Ah nooooooooooo! 

Out of options and stamina, disappear down the black hole of 3 day poop or use the left hand of salvation.  Face to face with my sudden understanding, I dip my hand in the jug burying it in cold water, covering every part I can and I reach for my ass.  Disgusted with myself but oddly inquisitive as to how will this all turn out I start to wipe myself clean. 

And so it went and so it went an incredible feeling of relief mixed with I have just killed a family member sense of self disgust and a Sherlock Homes type satisfaction in solving one of life’s great mysteries.  I came I conquered and I lived to smell the story!

 

further enlarge tall toilet
not Joe’s toilet . . .

 

Chapter something – The Poitin Still:   coming soon . . .