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Date : 11th November, 2015
Time : GARMIN DATA CORRUPTED
Total distance run to date : 650 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/985116726 (part)
Baked Alaska. Porters carrying unfeasibly large loads. The overwhelming size of the mountains on the somewhat scary flight up to Pokhara. The memories of our long ago family stopover in Nepal came flooding back to me as my flight landed in Kathmandu. (I was particularly impressed by my first ever baked Alaska – but that’s nine year old boys for you.)
But nothing looked familiar as we drove to the hotel. In fact the streets seemed much quieter than I remembered. Turned out that this was partly because we were in the middle of Diwali and everyone was on holiday. And partly because of the fuel crisis.
Fuel crisis? Nepal adopted a new constitution in September 2015 and some feel that it discriminates against the Madhesis – Nepalese of Indian origin. This led to protests and the closure of the border with India.
The view I heard in Kathmandu was that the Indian government had closed the border. In the interests of political neutrality, I should mention that I heard a different view in India – that it was the protesting Madhesis who’d closed the border.
Either way it’s a huge issue as a large percentage of Nepal’s imports – including fuel, food and medicine – come through that border. UNICEF, amongst other bodies, have warned of the impeding humanitarian crisis if the problem isn’t resolved. Especially as its comes on top of last year’s devastating earthquake.
In researching the issue post my return to the UK, I also read commentary to the effect that the world’s media has been ignoring the issue. So this blog is my own tiny contribution to raising global awareness.
One of the trivial side-effects of all this is that I was able to get to my run rendezvous quicker than might otherwise be the case. There I met Sahadev Byanjankar, Sudeep Kandel and other members of the Nepal Dynamic Running Club and the Kathmandu Running Club. Included in the entourage were 2 fellows recently back from the veterans World Athletics Championships. Gulp.
We we’re in north Kathmandu and the run started uphill into what I want to call the foothills of the Himalayas. A geographically inaccurate description apparently but it got me breathing hard at the beginning of what was to be a great run.
We passed local villages, bands getting ready for the night’s celebrations, paddy fields and temples (we’re at one of those temples posing in front of a statue of Kali in the picture above ). All this plus great views of Kathmandu. I couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you Sahadev and Sudeep for one of my favourite runs to date.
As a postscript, that night I strolled out into Kathmandu and Durbar Square. Travel can be time-consuming, expensive and full of hassle. One magical, glittering Diwali night out in Kathmandu and I was reminded why it’s all worthwhile.