This is well… You can see what it is, it’s both a shame and an artsy attraction in itself, I spent about 3 months in Kathmandu, and continuously caught myself staring at these chaotic jumbles of wires – Chaos is supposedly good for creativity, but that’s not really what you want in an electrician – Good luck dude.
Close call on the way down the Himalayas
But as everywhere I’ve gone, people are curious and extreme friendly so they slowly get under your skin whether you want it or not. I’ll miss Kathmandu for sure, I’ll miss Wanderthirst, and the Nepalese mountains ensured I won’t forget it anytime soon with a last tummy tingling, nerve-racking, poop staining experience.
I took a different route back to India where the road wasn’t nearly as good, it was filled with potholes, rocks and some very steep switchback roads both up and especially down. I had been driving all day, a good 8 – 9 hours and the sun had almost gone down when I turn the corner of another switchback. I passed a car coming the other way and were doing about 30 kilometers an hour when I hit the brake to slow down.
For some reason, 5 – 6 hours earlier I had imagined what would happen if my brakes stopped working, what would you do in a situation like that – what could you do? Imagining the rickshaw with me in it taking the leap off a cliff just hanging in the air for a few seconds, with my mind racing to fire out as many “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” shit’s as it can before finally tumbling down the side of the mountain like you see in big Hollywood movies, only without the fiery explosion at the end.
To my horror, that’s what happened. I hit the brake and there was absolutely nothing there. All the tension had disappeared from my brake pedal, so it felt like pushing down a puff of air**. Frantically I keep pumping the brakes 5 or 6 times, all the while shouting “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” – it was shire dumb paranoid luck I had been imagining this scenario only hours before because with no brakes the rickshaw picked up speed like a bullet, and I was doing 50 in no time, and the best solution I had conjured up hours early was – Crash it! So, I did.
I turned the wheel to the left and start banging into the rock wall, the back left wheel drops into a gutter and stops the rickshaw from bouncing back out on the road, but now the rickshaw is tilted and my left leg gets caught between the rock wall and the rickshaw, but at this point I can feel the whole thing slowing down and I just manage to think “Well, maybe it’ll get slash up, but at least I won’t die”. Luckily after doing a bit of sliding the left front side of my blue tin can catches a big rock sticking out of the wall and the whole thing stops with a bang.
First thing I see is the driver of the car I passed, he had seen it all happen in his back mirror and had turned around to help me. My leg incredibly enough seems completely fine as the driver helps me climb out of the rickshaw and over to the other side of the road. Within minutes there are 15 – 20 Nepalese crowded around asking me if I’m alright and trying to pull the rickshaw back onto the road.
I get driven down to a village close by and find a guesthouse about an hour after the crash – My adrenalin had completely numbed any pain in my leg earlier, but an hour later, it was swollen, thumping, bleeding and stiff as a log – Still, that’s all that happened to me – How lucky is that?
A couple of Nepalese guys offered me to drive it down to the nearest mechanic about a kilometer away, but I kept telling them they shouldn’t do it because the brakes weren’t working properly anymore, but a very brave Nepalese guy had a look at my brakes before jumping into my banged up rickshaw and off he went. That was one long kilometer, even though I was in a different car, watching the blue box roll slowly down the steep mountain road was nerve-racking.
The mechanic usually only fixed scooters, because… Well, people usually don’t drive rickshaws in the mountains – He had a look at my brakes and gave me the thumbs up. So from there I drove about 10 km/h the rest of the way down until finally I reached Simara, one of the last city before the border where all of a sudden the whole rickshaw tilts to the right with a big thump, and I see a single wheel shoot by me like it had enough of my slow driving and just decided to go rogue “You to slow, see yah bitch!”
So I stayed another 2 days in Nepal to rest my leg and wait for the local mechanic to get the parts he needed to fix the auto. Simara isn’t exactly a touristy kind of place, but with a foreign-looking face, a banged up leg and a big ass camera the local Nepalese won’t let you be bored 😝
What a wonderful country <3
There’s always something going on, even though you see smartphones everywhere, people aren’t addicted to them like we are, they don’t have a house filled with screens to sit in front of all day, so the streets are always ridiculously busy, filled with colors and life even in a relatively small city like this – compared to the cities in Nepal and India the city I grew up that seems more like a ghost town.
A troublesome week of mechanical problems
After crossing the border into India I had problems with the rickshaw every single day for a week, I had to push-start it a bunch of times, which is quite hard with a bum leg and no one at the steering wheel. The back wheel was back on, but the brakes failed multiple times again until finally they completely gave up – Luckily I wasn’t going down any mountains so no more accidents.
At one point it just refused to start, no matter what I did – pushed, scream, kicked – nothing worked – so I let my long blond hair down and stick my leg out and as always in this region of the world – People stop to help… Well… At first, they point at you, laugh, call other people, they come over, laugh some more until finally, someone understands I need a mechanic, and slooowly gets things going. But this process can easily take an hour because they have to retell everything they’ve seen learned or said from the point they met me to every newcomer the stops by.
After a while, a guy called Atul stops on his Royal Enfield motorbike and shouts something at the little crowd of people assembled next to my rickshaw. He’s the guy in the village who gets things done, he helps people to get work and is the guy the local government contact when they want to start some new project. So we all push the rickshaw to his office, where a mechanic shows up and fixes my auto with about as much ease as you would when banging on top of an old tv.
He simply removed the spark plug, pours a bit of petrol on it, and that’s it. The spark plug needs changing, but this would get me going until I find a new one. Within an hour there must have been 25 – 30 people come by, to say hello, and sit and listen and look at me for a while.
The next day we have ice cream while I got shown around the village to meet several grandparents, mothers, kids, brothers, and nephews before I kick some life back into the rickshaw and get going.
Atul told me I had brought him good luck, because the local government had just chosen him as some sort official contractor for the village half an hour before I set off 👏🏻 Good luck Atul, and thanks for the help.
I never get tired of looking at these, it’s another story overtaking one as so wide that you’re literally driving underneath the big load it’s carrying. Now imagine not one but 2 of these overtaking each other on the same road width as here… Yes, that actually happened. There’s always something to look at or someone to talk to in India.
As good as new
A month later I’ve got a couple of cool new scars and the leg is as good as new – for the second time in a row I crash the rickshaw and come out of it with a couple of bumps and bruises. You might be thinking… “Wait.. second time?” – Yeah, I had another crash serious crash about 5 months earlier, which I’ve been keeping quiet with for one good reason. But now that’s over, so I’ll upload that story next week.