writ·er [rahy-ter] noun.
a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
What does it mean to be a writer, a player of words and crafter of emotions, using prose and mind as tools? More to the point, what does it mean to be a writer in Nepal?
Being a (good) writer goes beyond creating descriptive text—the end result of time, care and study. Writers can go by other titles too: researcher, investigator, adventurer, traveler, planner, reporter and more.
late 15c., “one who plays at games of chance”. Meaning “one who seeks adventures”.
Recently I made a 3,500km circumnavigation of Nepal researching, gathering, seeking fresh articles—in micro and macro—to bring to readers like you. At times I felt like an adventurer of aulde seeking hidden treasures, or, as a hunter tracking its prey far from the big city.
Midway I was enjoying a delicious, freshly-baked apple crumple on the dusty, windswept main street of Jomsom Bazaar in rugged Mustang, when came from behind crumble and I a burly voice, one swiftly recognized. “Hello there. Fancy meeting you here.” ‘Twas my writing mentor Dr. Don Messerschmidt, sporting a wistful smirk. Who else should be there, smiling at this surprise encounter but my fellow writer-brother Kapil Bisht. What pleasant shock took us at such an unexpected rendezvous, only possible because each in pursuit of his craft.
late 16c., from Old French re: ‘expresing intensive force’ + cerchier: ‘to search.’
Don and Kapil were on their way to the snowline above the valley to track, research, capture and document the lucrative, yet short-lived yarsagumba season. Yarsagumba is a unique caterpillar-fungus, part insect-part plant, highly prized in alternative medicines, reaching massive prices on open markets. It was now picking season (April-May) under Nepal’s high peaks and points. My two compatriots of prose were enroute to meet, greet and glean from those who knew.
In that moment (with now not-so-warm apple crumble) I realized we belong —to a tribe foraging and gathering colorful bounties. Travelling to unlikeliest of places, never sitting on successes laurels, hungry to seek-out and share short stories and tall tales about our world(s). I imagined characters on similar missions dotted globally in other strange junctions on unique journeys. In short I felt… cool (not just by gusts blowing from Annapurna’s bosom).
Next to doing things that deserve to be written, nothing gets a man more credit, or gives him more pleasure than to write things that deserve to be read—Lord Chesterfield.
The next time you read a gripping story about a place, person or culture, remember someone had to go and capture the succulent prose you enjoyed. Sometimes your writer shivers on trails, bakes under sun, soaks in pouring rain; risking all, so he or she can then sit down to decipher their cache of new-found knowledge creating the unique world we taste.
In the moment of this trio’s meeting there wasn’t time for coffees, meals and long-winded discussions—only the short-lived enjoyment of such a surprising meeting. A quick sharing of mission statements was all, before hands, hearts and minds returned to pragmatic tasks. For Don and Kapil it was finding porters, guides, gear, grub and eventually the elusive yarsagumba. For our crew it was a swift sweet-treat, petrol and servicing of motorbikes before our push northwards—bigger wheels were at work. Though we wished to sit and share we had prey to stalk and prose to capture in notebooks. Such is a wandering writer’s life.
Tally Ho! Write on; capture more and enjoy the apple crumble.