June 05, 2020
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Deep Thoughts

Deep Thoughts
outlookindia.com
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I've been accused of descending to new depths at various times in my career, but I've never been lower than at one point in my journey down the Kali Gandaki valley in west central Nepal. Somewhere along this ancient trade route is the world's deepest gorge, and anyone wanting to plumb the depths can do no better than this. I walked with trepidation, expecting perhaps to share the trail with demons and spirits of the underworld. For after all, it's nearly 6,000 metres—that's six km—deep, if you measure from the floor of the valley to the summits of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, on either side of you. My fears came to nought. My company on this journey through the planet's deepest dent were fellow human beings: trekkers from various rich countries of the West, porters carrying expensive rucksacks and even more expensive beer and pizza makings to satisfy stomachs made hungry by trekking, and mules. Endless trains of them with loud gongs round their necks to warn the unwary on a narrow mountain trail, or at the bottom of a Stygian gorge. In fact, if there was an element of the underworld in my journey to the depths, it was the overwhelming smell of mule dung. It lay everywhere, and provided an uncomfortable contrast with the surrounding natural beauty. And of course I was to blame. My trekking made me crave pizza, beer, burritos, and imported Indian dishes too. I carried a pocket full of Nepali rupees to pay for it. It came in mostly by mule train. Ergo, I owned the dung. Beware the Kali Gandaki gorge oh brave trekker, its depths will make you think too much.
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