September 20, 2010

Undulating sideways

We landed in Kathmandu on the 14th, drove to Nepalganj on the 16th, and have been festering since then waiting for the end-monsoon rains and clouds to disappear here on the Indian border with Nepal and about 250km north at Jumla so that we can fly into that town which has for weeks been cut off by landslips on the only road in. The weather has cleared here and it feels like a real transition from the monsoon. We have 4 tickets on a flight tomorrow thanks to our Sirdar and friend, Da Gombu Sherpa. So Garry, I, Amrit and Pasang will try to jostle our way onto a flight tomorrow together with 250kg or so of food and gear. Gombu himself will fly back to Kathmandu to attend to a medical problem and re-join us at base camp later if possible. Our cook, Rai, will follow us after. We'll spend a couple of days in Jumla getting set with local supplies and porters then head up the Jagdula Khola gorge towards Kande Hiunchuli, say 4 days trek. Once there Garry and I will spend 2 or 3 days acclimatizing before heading over a 5000m pass and down to our base camp by Changda Khola. Then comes the load carrying and clinbing attempt on unclimbed Kande Hiunchuli South (formerly Sisne, 6600m) which we attempted 26 years ago.

After the climb we'll head back to Jumla the long way round via Mugu, the Langu gorge, the Karnali river and Rara lake. We don't expect to see any Europeans after Jumla, if there.

It's rather normal to have this sort of delay. In hindsight we may have come out a little early, but if we do fly tomorrow we'll have reached Jumla a week after landing in Nepal which is much faster than in 1984 when we trekked much of the way across Nepal from south to north. It's a blow that Gombu is leaving, but it's unavoidable and we'll see what happens. You definitely need patience and fatalism in this game. Ripeness is all.

September 18, 2010

From Nepalganj, border with India, west Nepal

We drove here from Kathmandu on the 16th (12 hours), us + 3 sherpas + liason officer + the local leader of the maoists from Jumla where we're headed (very nice guy, young, strong, beautiful, all in black, great smile, a scent of the Khmer Rouge tho) and now we're waiting for the weather to clear to fly north to Jumla from where we pick up porters and trek north to our base camp. This team is small, but very strong (excluding us). We're stuck for now. The road to Jumla is closed by landslips and no planes have flown there for a week because of bad weather. So I'm hanging out at 'cyber office' and for those following what happened in Delaware this is a hoot :

Anyway Sarah Palin is looking awesome in Taiwan!

PS:"They call us wingnuts. We call us 'We, the people.'" Nice line from Christine O'Donnell.

September 11, 2010

Undulating Up

I'll be in Nepal for a few weeks from Tuesday. More info here.

"America today is governed by a ghost."

Obama isn't a muslim. He's an anti-neocolonialist, Islam-acculturated President who is way out of his depth. Becoming political kryptonite must be all the more harrowing for an affirmative action super-hero. Good. I wish him ill. My disdain turned to ill-will when I learnt of his active and crucial role in denying help to babies who survive abortion. Instead they die on a shelf, de-hydrated, panting, without a hand to hold or a voice to bless. That is the essence of this man. He did that.

Still here's some interesting stuff that came up - How Obama Thinks by Dinesh D'Souza:

Theories abound to explain the President's goals and actions. Critics in the business community--including some Obama voters who now have buyer's remorse--tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist--not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.

These theories aren't wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they could account for Obama's domestic policy, they cannot explain his foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse--much worse. But we have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history. In the process, we ignore Obama's own history. Here is a man who spent his formative years--the first 17 years of his life--off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.

What then is Obama's dream? We don't have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is writing about the dreams he received from his father.

So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anticolonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.

I know a great deal about anticolonialism, because I am a native of Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after my country's independence from the British. Anticolonialism was the rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the 20th century.
The climax of Obama's narrative [in Dreams From My Father] is when he goes to Kenya and weeps at his father's grave. It is riveting: "When my tears were finally spent," he writes, "I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America--the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I'd felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd witnessed in Chicago--all of it was connected with this small piece of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain that I felt was my father's pain."

In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that "I sat at my father's grave and spoke to him through Africa's red soil." In a sense, through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his father's spirit. Obama takes on his father's struggle, not by recovering his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr. failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.'s hatred of the colonial system becomes Obama Jr.'s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right defines his son's objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the family tomb, the father's struggle becomes the son's birthright.

Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anticolonial. Emerging market economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top, we have to compete in an increasingly tough environment.

But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

Thoughts for the day

'We are not and never will be at war with Islam' - Barack Obama

'You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you' - Leon Trotsky

September 01, 2010

The Shard is going up fast

The Shard will be the tallest building in Britain and Europe. It's by London Bridge,  a few minutes walk from my London apartment. Here's an album.