In 2007 I was in Kathmandu, Nepal doing a documentary of a Tibetan school (vimeo.com/14062779). One part of the Film was visiting a students home in the mountainous region of Nepal. This student was PEMA DEKYI. She was a 14 year old, who hadn*t been home in her village BIHI PHEDI for 3 years. She led us to her village even though she had never travelled the route in summer. The river BUDHI GANDAKI had swollen up through the monsoon, so many paths she knew were under water or washed away. We were often forced to skirt around looking for new ways to get closer to our destination.
We took a bus from KATHMANDU to ARUGHAT BAZAR. Unfortunately the roads were so bad that the bus dropped us off about a 5 hour foot walk before the village. The following day we actually started our planned journey along the river. About 30 kilometers and 8 hours later we reached MACHHI KHOLA, where we spent the night on moist, pested mattresses. The next day, after an extreme itchy night, we continued to SALLERI (not in the film), another some 25-30 kilometers and 8 hours walk. We had passed the gates into the MANASLU NATIONAL RESERVATION. Going through many formally MAOIST occupied villages we reached DENG, another some 25 kilometers and 8 hours walk. Even though we were close to PEMAs village, we decided to spend the night here and continue our last part of the journey the following morning. By now i had lost about 5 kg of weight, been covered by leaches and only ate DAL BAHT day in and day out since we started in ARUGHAT. On the 4th day we arrived at PEMAs grandfathers. A very intimate and emotional moment.
He tends a "shop" on the "main road" to PROK, further on in the north and close to the Tibetan border. Later on we went to her village, a 20 minute walk uphill. We remained there for a few days before we had to go back to KATHMANDU.
What you see here are outtakes of over 6 hours of material that i had stored in my drawer for the last 4 years. Maybe I needed some time away from these moments. They were very impressive for me.
I still have contact with PEMA and we write often. One day I will follow her again to her village. I hope.
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