house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


This is a series of blogs cold-pressed from a short journey to Nepal. 

Let me say first that, no matter how short the journey, the pre-journey stress and faff only tend to get longer. I know that mail I have been waiting for will arrive the moment I leave. I know that people will need my help, there will be bills to pay, contracts to sign, the school will schedule the parents' meeting, the doctor will make that appointment I've been waiting for for months - all while I'm away. I don't know yet, but I will receive my first hand-written letter of the year while I'm away. I will miss choir and flamenco. I'll be late returning library books, and get a fine. How tied up we are to a place - a thought too alarming to explore, especially now, from the departure lounge. 

We're meeting the MS's at the airport, off on their short skiing trip. They are immensely friendly and sweet - and whisk Kira away with them, with a vague promise (or hope) of no broken bones on the slopes in the weekend to come. More hugs, then they're off to their gate. I wave, Kira doesn't look back. 

Nothing left to do but stagger to my gate. I'm really going to Nepal. 

I have to wait for two planes - once in Edinburgh, once in Istanbul. In Edinburgh: surrounded by happy travellers, no emigrants, immigrants, labourers, refugees. These are people with laptops and donut pillows around their necks (a bizarre airport fashion trend, a bit like a revival of mediaeval ruffs). The lack of smiles says they're very important, and on very important missions. And because I'm not all that important and I'm really, really going to Nepal, I smile inanely (or insanely) at random faces, random donut ruffs. 

Then Istanbul, at midnight: a waiting lounge that fills with more and more people in transit. And what people: bright blue turbans, white djellabas and long beards; a child trying to sleep suspended on his father's back (the mother is petite, in jeans and house slippers); two men stride into the small cafe, straight from Turkmenistan (or Game of Thrones) - long coats, high furry hats. I look for curved daggers at their belts, and find instead boxes of Turkish delight from the tax-free. 

Someone's praying in a corner. Half past midnight. 

Someone's filming the chaos on a smartphone. 

The flight to Bucharest leaves from the gate next to mine. A virtual choice: go home? Or somewhere new and alien and far away? The flight to Kathmandu is boarding. 

Long flights equal films, curry meals, and lack of sleep. Watched The Queen of Katwe. Watched Genius. Both about big dreams and watched in the hope of finding out what to do with mine. 

It's morning now. I see mountains. 


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