As a working travel writer and editor, I enjoy the variety that the job brings. Sometimes I’m editing articles about luxury resorts in the Philippines, sometimes writing advice on trekking in Nepal. But definitely one of the most satisfying parts is seeing a carefully crafted personal narrative published. I’m not a writer who would want to spend her whole time writing personal or literary essays–they take a lot of emotional energy, as well as time–but they can be more satisfying in the end than a service piece.
So, I was pleased that my essay ‘Slowly Down the Sun Kosi’ found a home in the 2017 winter issue of The London Reader: Contemporary Voices in Creative Writing. The special London Reader travel issue is titled ‘Wish You Were Here: Writing and Reflections on Travel’. I’m a writer of non-fiction rather than fiction, but creative writing is not just limited to the latter.
I workshopped this piece at the November 2016 Himalayan Writers Workshop in Kathmandu, led by the wonderful and entertaining Eric Weiner. Under his–and the other participants’–encouragement, I decided that it deserved to see the light of day. And here it is.
If you’d like to read my essay–about a nine-day rafting trip in Nepal–please support The London Reader travel issue.
Here’s an extract:
“The sand at the Sun Kosi’s edge at Dolalghat is soft almost to the point of obscenity. Feet sink and are enveloped by the bronze liquidity of rock. It is as soft as mud but not as slippery, with less residue, and as stable as sea sand, but less exfoliating. I sit by myself at the edge of the water while the rest of my group, who all seem to know each other, try out their kayaks and bask in the November sun. I am sulking.
The guides bustle with little concern for what their clients are doing. One blows up a raft with an arm-powered pump. Three stand ankle-deep in the water, bare-chested, smoking cigarettes. In Kathmandu, I would have mistaken them for the bus boys who hang from open doors and shout garbled strings of destinations. When these guides were wearing clothes, it was impossible to notice their lean, taut physiques, a testament to their physical work.
Two children freestyle with the current and wash past where I’m sitting. I gaze up at the hills, low by Nepali standards, and see that dust has been flicked up by something. A bus. It was impossible to see that a road was carved there before the dust appeared. Such roads are cut through the hills, mountains, and valleys of Nepal, but most remain invisible because of the undulating terrain. Only if you fly by helicopter or low aircraft do you see how many paths have been carved. Cut, but not well maintained, so the clouds of dust billow over the soft green-watered, bronze-sanded Sun Kosi River.”