My, oh my, what a day this was! It began in India when we woke up at 4:00 a.m. and ended nearly 20 hours later in Kathmandu, Nepal. In between, we spent six hours driving in a Jeep again. ‘Round and ‘round those hairpin curves we drove while dodging buses, overloaded taxis, and wild monkeys. Only once did I think we were going to die (no fooling!). A bus approached from the front when the road was extremely narrow and there was a drop-off of several hundred feet on our side. We were so close to the edge that I instinctively covered my head and laid low in the back seat. The adrenalin did a rush!
The scenery was breathtaking – tiered hillsides containing corn and rice plants, white water rapids on fast-flowing rivers, a massive concrete British-built bridge leading to Bhutan, teeny houses made of straws mats and grass roofs. Also enroute we saw an enormous engineering university and an even bigger hydro-electric power project – proof of Sikkim’s progressive forward movement.
Sikkim is heavily forested, but not so with other areas of India. Once out of the mountains, we traveled across plains where the scenery reminded me of photos in a National Geographic magazine. The area was alive with motion, like ants on an anthill. People were everywhere. Some sat in the shade, their eyes void of expression as they stared at nothing in particular. Others repaired bicycle tires. Some shaped raw wood into beautifully handcrafted bookshelves, tables and chairs. Others sold pineapples, bananas, oranges, and eggplant from wee wooden booths or from a blanket on the ground. I saw children picking up fresh cow and water buffalo manure and carrying it in straw baskets on their backs. Further down the road I saw a mother and two children shaping manure into patties and laying the heaps on a concrete bridge to dry. An old one-legged man on crutches hobbled at the road’s edge. A beggar with no hands cast a pleading look at passersby. A little girl, maybe five years old, carried a younger naked child whose skin was so dusty that she appeared grey in color.
It seems almost surreal that parts of the world can be so different. We, as North Americans, have mega surplus and still we often want more. “God forgive us for whining. Grant us contentment and hearts that see the world the way You see it.”