My friend Anton

I have just returned from from the land  of the sickle and the mobile phone,from the people who believe in the spirits of the forest and desperately want a UK visa. The Sherpa people remain desperately loyal and send their greetings to the Great White Queen.Back in the Uk on Sunday.

You are never alone  with  Kindle.I loaded mine up with Mantel,Cheever, Tolstoy and Chekhov. Anton’s stories of the sullen, oppressed, drunken Russian peasants post Emancipation rang many bells in the world I was in.

The school although financed from the West is run and totally dependent on a  family which have dominated the local villages for several generations. Everyday at least one and sometimes several peasants-gaunt,malnourished,soiled and totally beaten by the pitiless struggle against an unforgiving environment turn up. To beg a meal and an hour’s comfort which is always forthcoming.The village postman is paid 30pounds a month to walk the six hours to pick up the mail. Sometimes he gets drunk and loses it on return. He supplements his income by being chairman of the local  disability panel. In the district of 6 villages and 4000 souls there are 36 on total disability. They get 1000 rupees a month. It is estimated you need 100rupees(75p) a day to live. Do the math

The local vetiniary officer is one of  a hardly exclusive club a habitual drunks in the locality.Local alcohol about 20R for  half a pint. The village joke is that he couldnt tell the difference between a cow and a chicken. He gets his salary nevertheless.

There is a 24/7 drunk who selling off bits of his house-windowframes, doors etc-a bit at a time to pay for his habit. His wife left him after two days.

There was a young girl who got foreign sponsorship for her education. Unfortunately her parents decided they needed help on the farm,married her off aged 14 and got four hands for the price of two!

The family of one of the largest houses in a nearby village struck dumb with depression when the father aged 64 died. He was receiving a Singapore police pension which mean they were  used to a very lazy life style. Now they were going to have to work!

The peasant woman who came in and told the story of her ill son. He had to go to Kathamdhu for treatment. The family coughed up for the bus fare plus.The next day she came back having confessed to having sent the money on food and clothes. This time they gave her a bus ticket.

In a school in Kathmandhu the students were fed up with failing their Maths exams. They insisted their maths teachers be sacked. Unfortunately these teachers had recently joined the Maoist trade union. The Maoists “won” the recent civil war and are now the dominant party. The teachers wouldnt go despite a student sit in,they begged the students to hit them,this didnt happen and eventually the Minister of Education had to intervene.

Some of the orphans  from the school who spend the holidays with their aunts and uncles often have their clothes sold.

And so it goes on. Although internet connection disappeared  over the last twelve months the village now has two tractors and at least eight more houses. These have been paid for by remittance money. Nepal has a population of 30 million and 7 million work abroad ,many in near slave conditions in the Gulf. Unemployment is officially at 50%. A trekking porter gets paid7 pounds a day a teacher 15 pounds a week.

So in this tide of Chekhovian fable all  shrouded in the incense of  interlocking traditional beliefs,customs and rituals,where do stand? I am the minor aristocrat who is forever staying in other people’s houses and wondering whether art, true love or a proper job is the answer.

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2 Responses to My friend Anton

  1. eric ormsby says:

    Well, the return of a familiar voice! Very moving message, though I assumed it was the other Anton, your old friend, whom you were blogging about. Does this mean we’ll now be hearing more from the Himalayan sojourner?

  2. Nick says:

    Also on the far side of the Atlantic, delighted to again start the day with your blogs and know that you have returned to internet.

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