After 5 years of first failed attempt (in 2009, injured my leg while coming down to Syabru Besi from Gosaikunda with another group of friends) and 2 years of longing (cancelled last year), I finally went on a trek to Langtang with a group of friends from 5-11 October, 2014. Altogether there were 8 of us, initially, six of us planned the trek over a month ago and at the last moment, a brother and a friend of the friends joined the group.
DAY 1: Kathmandu – Syabru Besi
As the season has kicked off, we decided to start our trek immediately after the day of Dashain Tika. We booked the tickets of the local bus to Syabru Besi and went on with the first bus after the Dashain holidays.
After almost 7 hours of bus ride, we reached to Sybru Besi which was the stop for the first day. We had sufficient time for some activity so, we reserved the vehicle and visited Rasuwa Gadi. I was not so pleased upon reaching there as there were not much for observation, it was sad to see the poor maintaince of the historic place while on the opposite site, China had giant gate and buildings. It was a disappointment. That was the place where my camera broke down and stopped working L We returned and prepared for the next day. I unpacked my bag and took out some of the extra clothes and broken camera to leave it behind at the hotel for some days until we came back from the trek. Friends enjoyed rest of the time playing cards with the sip of local kodo ko whiskey.
DAY 2: Syabru Besi – Riverside
We started early morning. We had planned to go upto Lama Hotel on the second day but as we reached early there by mid-afternoon, we continued and decided to take rest either at Riverside or Ghoda Tabela after having the lunch at Bamboo. Friends pushed to go further but I was not keen with that idea as we also needed to take time to acclimatize ourselves and go on average pace ensuring necessary rest for the body. I had severe headache at night due to cold weather. As there were few rooms, we had to adjust, 4 of us, in a bed for 3. the snoring of friends ZZZZ….waking up to pee at mid-night…and the full moon night with the illuminated mountain view. It was experience mixed with awe and discomfort.
DAY 3: Riverside – Kyanjin Gompa
Although we wished to start the day early morning, we somehow started little late. We had the lunch at Langtang Valley which had been ordered via a lady on phone who arranged to cook the food for us and serve it to us upon reaching there. We were delighted to have the food ready although the lady we met there initially pretended food had not been prepared and surprised us by saying she was not sure whether we would show up or not. She was kidding and after a while, she told the truth and asked kids to get it ready. We stopped at Kyanjin where I had a friend-brother, Lakhpa Jangba who had taken care for arranging the hotel rooms for us. We got a warm reception from dai and didi, had nice cake and coffee at his bakery as soon as we reached. Finally, I was meeting Lakhpa dai and his family up there. We were very happy. Doma and Tenzin was playful as ever.
DAY 4: Kyanjin Gompa
After breakfast, we climbed Tserko Ri (5033m) upto to 4500m for an incredible view of the Langtang range with a guide Tashi dai. We started late so, we could not make it to the top, 6 of us decided to return after covering little bit more than half the distance while 2 friends continued and completed the whole distance.
We were happy to see the views and take pictures from the point where we stopped for the lunch. As the hill was steep down, my knees started hurting which was injured over 2 weeks ago in Nuwakot landslide incident. I came down slowly and rushed to Bakery to have some coffee and cake to revitalize. I had a dinner with Lakhpa dai and his family.
DAY 5: Kyanjin Gompa – Riverside
Relaxed, chilled and enjoyed nice breakfast at Dorje Bakery Cafe & Coffee Center of Lakhpa dai. We had apple pancake, sandwich, and cappuccino for breakfast which made us feel very full. We spent a lot of time taking photographs around and some friends again started playing cards. So, we departed from there pretty late and continued with lots of brief breaks on the way back. We had the lunch break at Langtang valley and finally stopped at Riverside for night stay once again. It was already dark and my knees were hurting like hell. We noticed there were already a lot of visitors coming up so, the rooms were packed. Luckily, we got a room with 4 beds which we attached together to accommodate six of us. 2 friends enjoyed sleeping outside in the tent.
DAY 6: Riverside – Syabru Besi
We took time to get ready as there was just one toilet for many people in the lodge so, we had to wait for our turns to get in and do it. One of my friend took longer due to the constipation, so, we left him for the last in the row of toilet going among us. We had coffee and then moved as soon as possible. We stopped at Lama Hotel and met with Dawa sister who had greeted us few days back. It was a hotel run by women, it was nice to see the team work among them and how well they well running the hotel. Although they faced problems at times like the one I witnessed at the time of our arrival, one of the guides for asking for discount and commission for bringing in the guests. They dealt with that guy pretty and did not give in to his demands. We had breakfast there with Tibetan bread with honey, coffee and boiled eggs. Some of the friends could not have eggs as they were spoiled. We continued walking and stopped at Bamboo again for the lunch. There were a lot of people. The hotel owner requested us to pack up soon and move to Syabru as we wanted to make space for new guests. The way he said was pretty rude and straightforward and one of my friends remarked, `Had we ate here for free, I cannot imagine what what he would make us to do.` He picked up his bagpack and started walking angrily. I changed my clothes and got ready. We reached Besi on time and went for the bath in the hot spring place nearby. It was last day in Besi, so, we were playing cards and having fun by teasing one another. It got really funny at one time when the money was hidden and the way a friend reacted to that.
It was World Mental Health Day and I took time in between while walking to think about possible advantages of travelling and being with Nature on mental health. I realized there are a lot of benefits to it.
DAY 7: Syabru Besi – Kathmandu
Finally, we were going back HOME after a weeklong trek. We had booked the seats in a jeep. We had to adjust in the middle and back row seats which was congested for us. We started at 7.15 am in the morning and reached 2.30 pm in Ring Road, we took taxi and went home after that. Upon reaching, had snacks and then, had rest. I had taken few days off after that from my work so, I had time to relax and recover from the fatigue. Very happy to reach back safe with a lot of memories.
Once is not enough for the place like Langtang so, lets see if I will get to visit it again in the future. The route is not so tough, and the budget is also average. It is a life time experience to visit such places. Wonderful… Langtang, I hope to see you again. Namaste!!
Please, find herewith our article published in Annals of Global Health titled ‘Authorship in Global Mental Health Research: Recommendations for Collaborative Approaches to Writing and Publishing’.
Henry Dunant, the father of Red Cross movement and Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis are two great personalities who have inspired millions of people around the world. Unlike what the title of this post might look like, this is not the biographies or comparisons of two renowned persons in their respective fields of humanitarian action and human psychology, it is about my personal reflection regarding my work in ICRC and prior experience as a student of psychology. I picked it up as this title often came in my mind whenever I visited National Red Cross Society offices around the country which again reminded me of taking up psychology textbooks to see the pictures of Freud as a student.
Today I have completed the 2 years of service in ICRC Nepal as a field officer for Hateymalo program, comprehensive psychosocial support for the families of Missing in Nepal. It has been quite some time, time has gone so fast, everyday felt similar and just the routine at times but now when I look back I notice some many changes in my own life and of others with whom and for whom I have worked. I feel proud that the period of hard work has been worthy though I have mixed emotions regarding certain things.
As a student of psychology, I have worked and collaborated with a number of researchers from international universities since 2006. It was back in 2012, I was on a research trip to Taplejung to help a student of Conflict and Human Rights from Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Due to several reasons, the research project had to be dropped and we had to return back from the field. Upon returning, he decided to do his thesis on the different topic and then, we took our separate ways forward. Just after that, I received a message from Jamuna Maharjan Shrestha di (senior Nepali counselor) informing me about the vacancy in the ICRC and encouraged me to apply for it. I looked over the advertisement and I had an ‘aha’ feeling and thought I should definitely give it a try as it was vacancy for the comprehensive psychosocial program supporting the families of missing in Nepal. In 2009, I had worked with another Dutch student from Queen Margaret University, UK on the research topic ‘Psychosocial challenges and Coping Mechanisms of Families of the Disappeared in Surkhet, Nepal’. We had worked in Surkhet district for over three weeks doing field work, visiting families and exploring about their psychosocial wellbeing. They clearly were in need of psychosocial support and I wished so much that I could help them. I had hoped that some kind of intervention would result for the families from the research, and I felt bad as I knew it would not happen overnight as it takes quite some time to transform research into program. That is how I felt motivated to apply for work in ICRC. I had already been working in other thematic areas of political violence like use of child soldiers and other aspects of armed conflict in Nepal. I then requested my senior collaborator and mentor Brandon Kohrt for the recommendation letter. It proved to be the stepping stone in the process. I would like to thank Jamuna didi and Brandon for their support once again at this moment. The rest is the history now. As I look back I see the connecting dots and forming the line of my career. Coming back from Taplejung proved to be good coincidence. Had I been there for two months as we had planned initially, it would have been completely different story now and I surely would not have been writing this. You might have been reading completely different post right now which would be fascinating to imagine!
Two years in a program, I have worked through different phases with different people. I am glad to see the people with whom I have worked grow, become skilled and competent over time. That gives a sense of satisfaction and I have always emphasized that we are on the journey of learning and providing service to the families at the same time. But it has not been all rosy along the way; I have encountered a number of thorns and obstacles too which have taught important lessons. I have experienced competition, deceit, mistrust and lack of cooperation at times while enjoying friendship, sharing of knowledge, cooperation most of the times. I am also very happy to share that ICRC has started Hateymalo program in Surkhet district as well since 2013 for the families of missing.
Let me go back to being the student of psychology now that is how Freud comes in for this post. He is the rock star in field of psychology even today. He is one of the greatest psychologists in the history of psychology. In the survey that I had conducted in 2009 among university and college students, he topped the list of favorite psychologists. He is an inspiration to many but we know he focused too much upon the negativity and problems of human psychology. Now, after finishing my MA in psychology, I firmly believe we need to balance that perspective and we have to take side by side the study of psychological well-being too (which is taking place but is often overshadowed by focus upon problems). The teachings of Buddha, mindfulness and many scientific studies being undertaken (popular as positive psychology) are useful for to learn about positive aspects of human well-being and mental health.