The man wears a well ironed suit and shined shoes. He puts on a baseball cap, grabs his briefcase and heads out to the mountains to go to work. He walks miles on a rocky road, crossing muddy paths, jumping over streams and transversing shaggy bridges to make it to the meetings he occasionally has in a school in a neighboring village.
Durga Dhakal (48) is the Principal and an English teacher at Shree Janabal Secondary School in the small village of Marpha, in Nepal. Surrounded by the Himalayas and beautiful landscapes, his trips to the neighboring villages are quite unique, not for him necessarily, but for a foreign observer, perhaps. He often walks, to avoid waiting for the bus which might never show up.
He's been based in this region for years and lives in the school hostel along with his colleagues. Besides sharing a room to live in, a stove to cook on, and the same jobs, they share another commonality, their wives and children live away, far enough that visits are rather rare. Durga's family lives in Pokhara. He occasionally flies there to visit them. Not too often, he sadly adds.
Having a job he loves and colleagues he enjoys makes the lack of other options more bearable.
He talks on the phone with his wife regularly, however those conversations are rather brief. They don't discuss much, intimacy is gone after years of being apart. It's not a long distance romance, it's mostly logistics.
Durga sits in a restaurant, his face candlelit, as the power is out. He drinks Roxy, the local drink that keeps one warm on a chilly night, which happens quite often at at that elevation. "Our life is brutal in a way," he shares as he remembers his distant family.
Loneliness is a tough void to fill, even with incredible landscapes from the top of the world. Heart and soul have different priorities, let alone the brain.
The last time I saw him he was in a classroom teaching English to a handful of students. He was quite sick and it was obvious how tired and unwell he felt. He kept walking around the class however, joking with his students, teasing them and encouraging them at the same time.
"It was kept as an extraordinary life of loving …" he wrote on the blackboard.