“The Chinese say that there is no scenery in your home town. They’re right. Being in another place heightens the senses, allows you to see more, enjoy more, take delight in small things; it makes life richer. You feel more alive, less cocooned.”
… a quote from A Glimpse of Eternal Snows
I found myself thinking about that observation as I flew in over London on the approach to Heathrow on Friday night. Yes, it is Christmas. London was glitterier than ever and I took in festive lights and the Ferris wheel and rides of Hyde Park’s winter wonderland but the lights looked brighter, more beautiful than I ever remember before. The yellows of the street lights, the reds of brake lights, the greens and ambers and cherry-colours of traffic lights all looked rich and exciting through seemingly crystal-clear air. Yes, the Boarder Agency man was a bit surly (he must be bored with ebullient returnees) but that didn’t dampen my excitement at coming home.
We’ve only been back in the Kathmandu Valley for three months and it feels comfortable to be there again but the twin cities are congested and chaotic – traffic comes at you from any direction – and dust coats everything so absolutely it is hard to see how urban plants photosynthesise at all. Everything tends to dust-brown, except perhaps the chatty parakeets and occasional passing butterfly. Even the air looks muddy.
I suppose I was mildly culture shocked coming back: the clear air (relatively speaking), speeding smoothly along with other traffic that was oddly, reassuringly predictable and with lights that functioned. And with logical signals – no indicating R when pulling in on the L.
Then I was back home and indulged in the wicked luxury of a hot deep scented bath.
In Kathmandu our drinking and domestic water is delivered by tanker so a bath seems like the height of decadence; eco-rapism really. And although I know we have to be careful with water in Britain, water shortages in Nepal are on whole another level. Brits may whinge about the state of the country, but we really really have got it good.
And for some photos of my latest adventures, take a look at my Instagram account @wilson.howarth
|Flying west out of Kathmandu gives wonderful views of most of the world's highest peaks