Monday, 15 March 2010

Monday morning and the Maoists

5am and I roll my corpse out of bed, into the shower and into a couple of layers of clothes. I load my pack on my back, gingerly make my way out of my room feeling for the light switches as I go, head down the five flights of stairs, mutter an unenthusiastic ‘namaste’ to one of the young sons of the couple who own the place, then step out into the dark.

I knock on Nicky’s door and we vaguely acknowledge each other. It’s getting lighter so I put away my torch as we make our way through the deserted streets of Thamal to a patch of pavement designated as a bus station. There’s virtually no one there. The street is empty and there’s no sign of a bus; only police in dark blue uniforms huddle in groups with machine guns to hand. The word is out that there is a strike or 'bandh' on today and we’re told to come back the following morning. The Maoists have called it and no one is keen to mess with them. Heads down and defeated, we make our way back to our respective hotels to check-in and unpack, with the knowledge that the whole process will need to be repeated the following following day.

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