tattoos and trips


on the inside of his bicep flashes a tattoo of a leprechaun holding a spliff, wearing a doctor’s coat. ‘oh yah, I was so drunk when I got this’ he says with the most beautiful set of teeth I’ve seen in a long time. but then he explains he had discussed the tattoo five times when sober and so his tattoo artist obliged while the client was inebriated, still a sane decision though. “sane”. some 20 odd minutes later he goes into a small albeit entertaining spiel about how he’s off now and anything he says or does henceforth happens with the absence of his mind. everyone is in the know and they send their best through fits of giggles.

in my mind, i’m asking myself, what am I doing here. what am I doing here. what am I doing here.

how did I get here?

but that story is much too long, and much of it is irrelevant for now. for now, what matters is the group that I find myself in the company of. americans, germans, poles, Canadians, and some mix of Yemen and Russia–an eclectic collection of characters. here they sit in relaxed smoky respite all connected not by their indulgences but by this strange experience of having been part of a medical camp in remote post-earthquake struck Nepal.

the guy with the tattoo, did I mention he’s a medical student. and the guy with blonde dreads that’s been growing for 12 years—he’s the camp doctor.

and i, as the only nepali with Nepal in my heart and in my blood, i am the outsider. it’s impossible to miss the irony of this situation. i’m the outsider in their world which is but a pocket in my world, my country, my (what I suppose I must confess) home. and they are here, taking part in the larger good. living out what the professional respectable world of INGOs and institutions have struggled to do – stay in the mountains for two weeks straight, serving.

there are complications. A Nepali family opens their home and these oddities free of spirt and also so free of mind and body haven’t the sense to realize it’s offensive to get high and have sex while guests in a Nepali home. details. but these the realities of the situation i see myself an outsider-insider, insider-outsider to. regardless, does the socially inappropriate activation of their libidos undermine the hundreds that benefits from their collective effort? i think not.

the earthquake eh. there’s been so much said, written, thought, criticized, critiqued, conversed and it’s not stopping right away. over a month after and the one sentence snippet I catch off of passing by conversations—it hasn’t changed. where were you when the big one happened? and the second big one? no, the big tremor not the other big one. oh yeah, the government. INGOs. independent groups. media. tremors. another big one. So on and so on and so on.

i tire of it. i truly do. it fatigues me and i find it tedious.

all this talk. just talk.

but then there’s this group. and if nothing else, i am entertained. there, for how every many hours we remained in the mist the earthquake barely came up. the tragedies were just about irrelevant. and yet there is a presence. a song that doesn’t suit the vibe comes on and i hear a comment behind me from a boy who turned into a man after seeing his share of war, “as if we weren’t depressed enough already.”

they say, these trips you take—it’s an escape. you’ll lose yourself in it. but maybe people journey for another reason, and there is much to be found.

in light of events we can’t explain– the shaking of the ground beneath our feet so violent it leaves nearly 9,000 dead in the rubble, what god or ideology can offer sound condolence for that? what theory, what amount of money, can offer justification? Class-quake. Inefficiency. Poverty. People at risk. Development. Infrastructure. Politics. Corruption. words and phrases get thrown around and in the back of my mind i hear this voice singing this line, “i’ve smelled the stench of loss”.

and though the mind wanders, though you seek release, we have to confront this. we must. i do not know how he processes seeing villages collapse, watching bodies laid out, seeing death…smelling loss. a truck passes and previously unnoticeable sounds now causes my heart to quicken and my feet wonder if they should run.

run to what. run away from what. what brought these vagrant, shoe-less, borderline degenerates here? most of all, what’s most interesting of all, how do we end up in the same room, sharing the same air, all of us having our own thoughts.

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