Run and hide

written by Elisabeth Mansel in Nepal on Thursday, the 28 June 2018, last update on Thursday, the 28 June 2018

We enjoyed a rest day in Tatopani next to the hot springs. Laying on our thermal mats I was reading a book aloud. Far of next to the bridge, which was under construction, was a young man starring at us. It seemed pretty normal, because every construction worker was starring at us from time to time. After some time he moved slowly closer. We made fun of it, because it looked like a same child failing to hide behind a too small bush. But with a closer look I recognised that the man was disabled. He had six fingers and water was dropping out of his open mouth. OK, so it wasn't his fault that he was starring more than all the other ones. After some watching he came even closer, formed his hands to a "Namaste" and sat down next to us. We also said "Namaste" and I continued reading. Now a lot more construction workers were watching us. Two more guys came down, spoke with the disabled man and sat down a bit more far of us than the disabled one. I stopped reading. Frieder said, he wants to try to invite them on tea, even so we only had two cups. I brought him the stuff we needed for tea out of the tent. Now three more men arrived at our camp ground. They all watched with amazement how Frieder started the petrol cooker. They didn't speak much English, but it was enough to find out their age. When Frieder tried to offer one cup of tea to five people, they said "No". Next he cooked some noodles as a snack for us. After the cooking was finished and we started to eat, the men said "goodbye" and went back to work. Everyone but the disabled one. He stayed and watched us. Our evening plan had been to go in the hot springs at night watching the stars and the moon. But I would not like to be starred at all the time sitting half naked in a pool. Also I was scared that he maybe would not keep enough distance. So we tried to walk somewhere else, but he just followed us. After we finished our tea, I suggested to go inside the tent and wait until he gets bored. It worked out fine. Just 10 minutes later we went out again and walked on the opposite side of the river to the hot springs. I was a bit worried about leopards jumping at us at night, because they are night active. So we turned on a torch even so the moon was bright enough to see. Only one time I saw the light of a torch above us, but nobody came down to us. There was some lightning far away on the sky, so we decided to go back to our tent. Gladly no leopard attacked us.
The next morning we continued our way to Dhule. We didn't use the bridge, because they finished everything except three meters. But with our heavy backpacks we didn't wanted to climb along the ropes like a local did yesterday. It was just too scary. Today would be a hard day, because we had to go around 1000 metres up. The second village we past had even a shop selling cookies. They also had bees but didn't sell honey. In the last village before Dhule a lot of people were sitting on the rooftops of their houses. I recognised the disabled man on one of them as well. The village had a lot of small walkways and we nearly got lost. But the villagers pointed us the way. We have been nearly out of the village, when the disabled man joined us and tried to show us the way. We didn't like beeing followed so closely, because he could not keep a normal distance. After a while of walking Frieder tried to say "goodbye" and show him to walk back to his village, but he didn't wanted to. It was mental stress to be followed for so long. We tried to ignore him a bit and he started to talk to us like the men usually talk to their horses to keep them going. So he was shouting commands to us, which we didn't understand and showed the way. Some while later he was showing up the hill and said "Dhule". But the walkway and our GPS looked like the trek would continue on the right side. So we went right. He tried to block our way with branches, but we just walked around it. After some time he seemed to try to block out way with his body, but Frieder walk energetic towards him. He ran of some meters and pretend to pick up a stone. I shouted at him. He also pulled down his trousers without any reason for a short moment. Some more walking and he was already singing again. He was now walking around seven metres in front of us, which felt totally fine. At some point he was starting to block our way with branches again. Frieder had enough of that and was stepping very hard on the branches. The man begin to ran up the hill. Then he was actually throwing real stones at us. And the stones hadn't been small. They were as big as half a head. We still stand out of reach of his stones and I was shouting at him angrily. I knew if we would walk closer he could kill us with one of his huge stones . While I was shouting he ran up further. He would always be faster than we are, so this seemed to me as the only option to outrun him. I turned to Frieder and said: "Let's run back down and hide."
And that's what we did. We hid in the bush and I could see him running down the hill "after us". But he could never reach us. I was pretty sure he was not smart enough to find out that we are not faster than he is and that we would hide and continue walking up. But you never know what's really going on in one's brain. He heard him screaming further downhill and decided to walk on. After a while we heard his calling nearer to us again and hid in a bush, but he didn't come. Later on I guessed that it just had been a bird. We felt so lucky and safe when we arrived at Dhule.
I was thinking quite a while about this man. He was quite small minded. But he learned some words we were saying to him. Not the meaning but single words. The things he did looked for example like he would copy a man leading horses or donkeys. I guess he was maybe also copied someone else throwing stones at him. Our gestures and shouting had also been copied by him. Maybe he was just the ugly mirror of the society. The ugly mirror of all of us. Or at least of all people he met in his life. People behave worse around him, so he learns more of the bad side of people than of the good side.
Sometimes I was afraid of leopards while sleeping in a tent. But it is so unlikely to actually see a leopard. It's more likely to see a bear and a bear is not going to attack you unless he can't find any food or feels like being trapped. I still believe that humans are the most dangerous animals in the world. It is more likely to be shot by a hunter who wanted to catch a leopard than to be eaten by a leopard. Being killed by a thrown stone, a car (most likely) or by a robbery is more likely than being killed by an animal. People can be more scary than animals. Except for cows, of course. Cows have that crazy look in their eyes.


Tags: english, hiking

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